Zend mixes PHP and AJAX for rich internet apps

Client-side AJAX and server-side PHP mixed

With the release last week of an upgrade to its software development framework for PHP, Zend Technologies is mixing in client-side AJAX capabilities with server-side PHP functionality.

Zend PHP’s framework-upgraded Zend Framework 1.6, the company's open-source framework, integrates with the Dojo Toolkit for AJAX. The result is that developers will now be able to access front-end rich internet application capabilities via Dojo. Version 1.1.1 of Dojo will ship with Zend's framework. Integration between Zend and Dojo is made possible via a piece of software called Zend_Dojo.

Using this approach, developers will be able to use Zend Framework to build JavaScript-enabled web applications that Zend Framework will then render, says Wil Sinclair, project leader for Zend Framework.

Although Zend worked with the Dojo Foundation on the Dojo integration, the Zend Framework can still be used with other AJAX technologies.

Full support for SOAP web services has also been added to version 1.6. With this support, developers could build integration with an application based on Microsoft's .Net Framework.

Forrester Research analyst Jeffrey Hammond lauded the SOAP backing in version 1.6. "SOAP support is something many enterprise IT shops will find interesting. Many have made significant investments in SOAP-based SOA strategies, but would still like to take advantage of lighter-weight web-based frameworks that use dynamic languages like PHP or Ruby. The updated version of Zend Framework should help them significantly," says Hammond.

Another capability highlighted in Model/View/Controller-enabled (MVC) Zend Framework 1.6 is for controllers on top of the existing object-level unit testing. This benefits agile and test-driven development, says Zend's Sinclair. Unit tests on controllers allow developers to test realistic user scenarios, such as log-ins or balance transfers, he says. The MVC support allows developers to separate applications into presentation and business logic.

Version 1.6 also features a preview implementation of the Zend_Tool project, for creating projects and project assets, and managing them. This capability is important for rapid application development, says Sinclair. Zend Framework also features a "use at will" architecture, enabling developers to use separate components such as a forms-creation component.

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