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Eclipse Rolls Out PHP Development Tools 2.0

The PHP community is finally getting an update to the Eclipse Foundation's PHP Developer Tools (PDT) project, an important set of tools for developers that has not been updated since the initial 1.0 release in 2007.

PDT 2.0 expands on the first release with new usability and object-oriented programming features for PHP developers. The new PDT 2.0 release comes as the PHP language itself continues to evolve and as new languages like Ruby challenge PHP in the web application development space.

"To make things clear, PDT 2.0 is focused on creating better usability for PHP developers that create Web applications," Roy Ganor project lead for Eclipse PDT, told InternetNews.com.

One of the key additions is a new caching and indexing engine that Ganor claims improves the overall performance of PDT. The new engine is based on the Eclipse Dynamic Language Toolkit (DLTK). DLTK is a dynamic language toolkit and extends Eclipse to make it easier to build IDEs for dynamic languages. Ganor explained that by using DLTK, PDT now has similar behaviors as other Eclipse Platform elements.

That means that for existing Eclipse users who might just be developing applications with Java, moving to PHP with PDT will offer a similar environment with more familiar programming environment elements.

PDT 2.0 also includes improved code completions options as well as a code searching element called Mark Occurrences that identifies where a particular item is utilized.

The PDT project itself has been in the works since October of 2005, when PHP vendor Zend Technologies originally announced the effort. Ganor claimed that all told, PDT has had over a million downloads of the IDE so far.

Left behind

Though PDT has enjoyed a good number of downloads, the project to date has not been part of the yearly release train of Eclipse projects. Every June for the past three years, the Eclipse Foundation has released a bundle of Eclipse projects in a combined release effort. In 2008, the Ganymede Eclipse Release Train included 23 projects.

For the upcoming 2009 Galileo Release Train, PDT will be included. Ganor noted that the next release of PDT, version 2.1 will be out in June of 2009 as part of Galileo.

"We think it's an important thing that all projects in the Web space align with the date for the release train, it's a big announcement," Ganor explained.

As well as being a big announcement, PDT itself is now aligned with other key Eclipse releases like DLTK (Dynamic Language Toolkit) which is part of the release. By having a synchronized release, PDT users benefit from the improvements made across the Eclipse Platform.

The PDT 2.1 release will have a very specific focus according to Ganor. That focus will be on adding support for the upcoming PHP 5.3 release. Currently PHP is at the 5.2.8 release. The PHP 5.3 is being targeted by the PHP community for release by the end of the first quarter of 2009.

PDT is currently used as the basis for the Zend Studio for Eclipse commercial IDE, though Ganor noted that others beside Zend benefit from the PDT project as well. Among them is IBM's Project Zero, which is platform for developing Web applications.