RealTime IT News

PHP IDE Space Gets Competitive

Borland's CodeGear unit this week released its new version of its Delphi for PHP IDE -- introducing a number of enhancements geared to make PHP developers more productive.

But the new release may also signal growing competition with Zend, PHP's lead commercial sponsor, and the maker of Zend Studio IDE.

Version 2.0 of CodeGear's Delphi for PHP follows the launch of Zend Studio for Eclipse and Zend Platform 3.6 in January -- efforts that together come as enterprise adoption for PHP continues to grow, as do the number of tools for developers.

Among the improvements in Version 2.0 of CodeGear's IDE is support for Templated Forms, which provides a degree of code separation impossible in the previous version.

"It supports embedded PHP in the HTML at design time, allowing developers to manage their HTML as part of the project," Nick Hodges, Delphi product manager at CodeGear, told InternetNews.com. "It also enables developers to separate code and HTML presentation, like ASP.NET, by using embedded tags in place of components."

Other improvements include broader database access and a vastly improved editor with new, productivity-enhancing features.

Despite what might seem to be treading on Zend's turf, CodeGear's supporters say the two offerings have widely different focuses.

For one thing, CodeGear promotes Delphi for PHP 2.0 as a Rapid Application Development (RAD)-based IDE -- as a result, it differs dramatically from the Eclipse-based Zend Studio IDE.

"This is an entirely different animal, different that any Eclipse project," Hodges said. "Delphi for PHP is not Eclipse-based. We have our own IDE that includes a powerful RAD form designer and a component-based framework built in 100 percent native PHP."

Additionally, Delphi for PHP 2.0 actually integrates the Zend Framework into the IDE. Zend Framework is an enterprise-class deployment framework for PHP that has the backing of Microsoft, Google and IBM, among other big-name IT vendors.

"We view Zend as a partner and a powerful framework that we can leverage for our customers," Hodges said.

Nevertheless, Zend spokespeople are critical of two aspects of CodeGear's involvement in PHP-based development: Though the company's Delphi for PHP 2.0 integrates Zend Framework, the Borland division confirmed that it does not officially participate in the Zend Framework open source development community. Nor is it active in the development of the actual PHP language, spokespeople said.

"We don't see their staff at php.net and they do not have a contributor license agreement for Zend Framework," Mark de Visser, chief marketing officer at Zend, told InternetNews.com.

That said, de Visser said CodeGear's Delphi for PHP does offer at least one unique feature.

"They are indeed the first to deliver on a Visual Basic-style designer, where you can drag-and-drop components on a design canvas," he said.

Yet regardless of whatever rivalry may exist between the two, having CodeGear's IDE in the market still represents a positive development for PHP, de Visser added.

"Choice is a positive for every community," he said. "That applies to the PHP community as well. We think that the Delphi approach is mostly interesting to the users of the Pascal flavor of Delphi, and we are happy that they will find a reason to join the PHP community."