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PHP Project Launches Alternative to .NET, J2EE

Middleware is more than just .NET and J2EE . That's the message coming from Zend Technologies, the corporate backer of the open source scripting language.

Zend and its partners announced a new PHP Collaboration Project that will build a new PHP Web application development and deployment environment.

The Zend-led effort to drive PHP adoption as a middleware alternative to .NET and J2EE is not the first effort from the group.

Earlier this year, it launched the Zend Platform, which was updated in September to version 2.0.

The Zend Platform includes enterprise management and intelligence features that simplify the administration of multiple PHP servers across an enterprise.

PHP is a core component of the LAMP (Linux/Apache/MySQL/PHP) application stack that has emerged as a viable enterprise challenger to .NET and J2EE.

The PHP Collaboration Project is actually made up of two components, including a proposed PHP project at the open source Java tools Eclipse Foundation and a new PHP Web application framework (called the Zend PHP Framework).

The PHP Collaboration Project has already garnered the support of industry heavyweights such as IBM, Oracle, MySQL and Intel, among others.

The Eclipse PHP project will be led by Zend and has a goal of bringing "a greater focus on PHP to the Eclipse world and the Eclipse Development Platform."

The Zend PHP Framework is an effort to create a body of PHP code that standardizes PHP application development. It's envisioned to provide services as well as structure enabling developers to build and deploy mission critical PHP Web applications.

Michel Gerin, vp of marketing at Zend Technologies, explained that the PHP project will be managed through the Eclipse Foundation infrastructure.

"For the Zend PHP Framework it's still a little too early to talk about it. We haven't set up the infrastructure yet," Gerin told internetnews.com. "We haven't chosen where it will be hosted -- whether it's Sourceforge or another host. Right now we're looking at doing it internally at Zend."

The work on the PHP Framework will under an open source license. Though the decision has not been finalized, Gerin said the group is mulling a PHP-type license, which makes it very easy to reuse the code, similar to a BSD type of license.

Zend already has a development environment called Zend Studio which released its enterprise version 4.0 just in May.

According to Gerin, Zend wasn't in a position to extend Studio to become part of the PHP Collaboration Project.

"Zend Studio doesn't have an open API, so that's something we would have had to create," Gerin said. "We would have had to convince partners to develop and support that new API that no one would be familiar with because it's a proprietary product."

Zend is not going to be leaving its Zend Studio users out it the cold and has stated that it will continue to support them.

"By joining Eclipse, existing Zend Studio customers will get a standard development platform, an open API and a huge ecosystem of third party tools and applications," a Zend FAQ states.

The PHP Collaboration Project will use PHP 5, Gerin added. PHP 5 was launched in July of 2004.

Zend also recently got a vote of confidence from browser pioneer Marc Andreeson who joined the Zend board of directors last month.