The IBM i 25th anniversary celebration continues with another chapter: PHP. In this blog post Mike Pavlak, solution consultant for Zend, explains how this unlikely pairing became so wildly popular. Mike helps IBM i customers worldwide explore PHP as a business solution. Read his story, and then join the conversation on facebook.
PHP Hypertext Preprocessor entered the IBM midrange scene in 2005 as the result of several IBM advisory groups’ requests for an easy to use Web scripting language. Zend and IBM worked very closely together to deliver an integrated, optimized and supported PHP environment for IBM i.
The initial goal was to provide a simplified development solution for Web applications that would run quickly, securely and natively on IBM i. Today, we see businesses and ISVs developing business-critical applications in PHP to run on IBM i. Thousands of companies around the world now run PHP Web applications that talk to directly to DB2 as well as integrating with programs written in RPG and COBOL. A couple of unplanned side effects of introducing PHP, however, were to make thousands of open-source applications readily available on IBM i, plus to provide IBM i developers access to a new and very valuable source of OPC (Other Peoples Code). It’s not only a great source of new apps and OPC, it’s also an approach to application modernization that is a near perfect fit for the IBM i community.
Many popular open-source PHP-based applications, like SugarCRM, Drupal and Wordpress, provide working solutions that install in minutes and run natively on IBM i. They are tremendous examples of how to create modern Web applications that–like RPG apps–let you focus less on the technology and more on the business process.
PHP as an open-source language is built by the community for the community. This democratic method of language evolution means that many of the functions that make up the language started life as small examples someone developed for themselves and decided to share. These examples of OPC begin the contagious value proposition of developing business solutions in PHP on IBM i. It also allows developers to focus less on the language and more on the business application of the language. There is simply no computer language on the planet that boasts such a passionate community of developers constantly offering up their code examples for public consumption. Literally billions of lines of PHP-based OPC are available for IBM i developers to choose from on sites like sourceforge, hotscripts.com, phpfreaks, phpclasses.org and many more.
Just like with RPG, a relatively new PHP developer can become productive very quickly. One reason for that speed is that object-oriented (OO) development is optional. Many agree that OO development styles are important for solid application modernization. But when you can put the OO model to the side and focus on simple language syntax and business processes, you have a formula that’s familiar to many RPG developers. All of the energy that goes into developing procedural PHP applications fuels the long-term development using all of the many features of PHP in the OO paradigm and developers can “modernize on their own terms.” This brings tremendous value to organizations where the needs are great but the resources may be few. Developers can pick up as much about PHP as they need through the daily requirements of interactive Web page building. Starting with simple data inquiry applications is a great launching pad and, as the skills grow, the addition of updates and then framework based applications begins to take hold.
In addition to our close cooperation with IBM on PHP, Zend creates products that enable developers to deliver high-quality PHP code faster to production, and help system administrators ensure high performance and availability. Our Zend Studio for IBM i is a professional grade Integrated Development Environment for developing PHP applications. In addition, Zend Server for IBM i contains a complete PHP runtime environment, with additional performance optimization, monitoring, root cause analysis, and more.