February 25, 2005 8:05 AM PST

IBM backs open-source Web software

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Zend buffs up corporate open-source effort

January 10, 2005
IBM is putting its corporate heft behind a popular open-source Web development technology called PHP, in a move meant to reach out to a broader set of developers.

On Friday, the tech giant announced a partnership with Zend Technologies to create a bundle called Zend Core, which includes IBM's Cloudscape-embedded database and Zend's PHP development tools. Zend sells tools built on the open-source edition of PHP and offers related services.

The two companies intend to devote programmers to make PHP work better with corporate databases and Web services protocols. IBM also plans to establish an area dedicated to PHP on its developer Web site, which will include technical resources such as white papers. Zend Core will be available as a free download in the second half of the year.

PHP, originally known as Personal Home Page, is a widely used scripting language for generating Web pages. Unlike compiled languages such as Java or C, scripting languages like PHP are easier to learn. They are generally used for simpler tasks, rather than for complex number-crunching jobs.

Big Blue's public commitment to PHP is significant because the company has the technical and marketing resources to accelerate usage of the open-source product. IBM's investments in Linux and Java, for example, were crucial to mainstream corporation adoption of those technologies.

"We've got ideas for improving things," said Rod Smith, IBM's vice president of emerging technology. "We worked on specifications in the Java community that weren't language-specific and are applicable to the PHP world."

Staying committed to Java
PHP has a vibrant open-source community around it and is often used to build applications that run on Linux. The latest enhancements to the language are designed to help Web developers better handle XML-formatted data and Web services protocols.

IBM has made significant investments in Java software and will continue to invest in Java industry standards and its WebSphere-branded line of server software and tools, Smith said. Its commitment to PHP is a way to reach out to more developers, particularly in small and medium-size businesses, he said.

Smith said that the simplicity of PHP is one of its greatest assets. Business analysts without a background in computer science, for example, could create Web pages that pull data from back-end sources, he said.

"We're in a better position to look at a language that fits people's background and what they want to accomplish, rather than saying everything has to be written in one particular language that scales from easy-to-use to high-performance systems," Smith said.

Scripting languages such as PHP, Perl and Python have been around for several years and their use appears to be growing, according to analysts. IBM's participation in the open-source PHP community will help make development more professional, said Anne Thomas Manes, an analyst at the Burton Group.

"There's always been a huge interest in scripting languages...It makes sense for IBM to get into it," said Thomas Manes.

IBM could also benefit from smaller companies that build an initial Web application with PHP and then later upgrade to Big Blue's WebSphere server software, which is better suited for transactions, noted Thomas Murphy, an analyst at the Meta Group.

"People recognize that scripting languages fill a certain space in the market, including others in the Java community," Murphy said. "As IBM pushes into the small and medium-size market, which uses a lot of scripting, they need to make a play there."

One industry executive who requested not to be named said that IBM's push into PHP and scripting reflects IBM's disillusionment with the Java standardization process and the industry's inability to make Java very easy to use.

"IBM's been so fed up with Java that they've been looking for alternatives for years," the executive said. "They want people to build applications quickly that tap into IBM back-ends...and with Java, it just isn't happening."

For his part, Smith said that Java and PHP can be used for different tasks and said that IBM remains committed to Java.

Separately on Friday, IBM announced plans to submit about 30 projects to SourceForge.net, a Web site that hosts thousands of open-source projects. Included in the IBM donations are the Jikes product, which is designed to speed up Java development.

12 comments

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simpler tasks, Yeah Right
PHP can do anything java can but better. I used to be a java programmer. Not anymore. PHP have the perfect balance of object orientation and function like easy of use. Java designers when to far designing object for everything.

You should have written, PHP makes complex task, easier. That's a better statement.

At work we orchestrate a huge number of task and schedules and processes , all using PHP. And it just work.
Posted by (1 comment )
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Not 100% accurate
Java is not 100% objects. It has static classes and primitive types. I know java way better then php, but I seriously doubt php can do everything java can. Java can do everything C++ can do, usually slower, but far prettier, syntatically. Can php do everything C++ can? Maybe it can, like I said, I don't know php that well.
Posted by Bill Dautrive (1179 comments )
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I would like to see...
more support of object pascal. It is unfortanate that Object Pascal is falling behind (excluding delphi). Object pascal is one of the best laid out programming languages I have ever seen. Unfortunatly it is sorley lacking in many areas due to lack of support.

I have been learning Java, PHP, perl, C++, C#, JavaScript, and Visual Basic over the years and none of them compare to Pascal. Even so I think that a lot could be done to create a far better programming languages.
Posted by System Tyrant (1453 comments )
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"compiled language like java or C"
Since when is java a compiled language like C? I would hardly consider "compiling" it into java bytecode true compilation.
Posted by (2 comments )
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It is not true compilation
But it isn't a interpreted language either. Its functionality and design is far closer to real languages, then it is to scripting languages. Java compilation is a hybrid process, but calling it a compiled language, especially on this site isn't that far wrong. Most people who frequent this site aren't computer scientists, or even programmers. Mainly people who learn how to use and configure a program and thinks that makes them computer pros. If this article came from Dr. Dobbs Journal or some such publication, then it would deserve scorn.

You can compile java code into machine code but it is unsupported and can be flaky.
Posted by Bill Dautrive (1179 comments )
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various errors in posts here
(1) Java does not have to be slower than C++. Java is a language... choose a different runtime implementation. eg: Excelsior Jet for Windows, or GCJ: this is GNU C++, with a slightly varied set of C++ semantics, and compiles up a java program into an ELF binary for execution on Linux and so on. In my tests the ELF produced runs (unsurprisingly) at the same speed as compiled C++.
Note **you do not need Java bytecode at all to compile and run Java**.
My perception is that Java bytecode GUI stuff runs faster on OSX, Linux and Solaris than on Windows. Maybe a "fit" issue, or by design by MS.

(2) Pascal is just horrible in my opinion. AFAIK hardly anyone uses it.

(3) PHP is great, Java is great. PHP is pretty well limited to web apps as far as I can tell. For my money, I'd always use Java Taglibraries if I was going to do web stuff in Java.

But I think as a web language, PHP is superb. The biggest evidence of this to me has been my two websites' hosting packages Cpanel and Fantastico installer, plus chatrooms, discussions, webshops, are all written in PHP.
And there are so many other PHP programs out there: Groupware, entire business automation packages. Often these programs are very simple,and Free (GPL Free).
The evidence is what these things do.
In my web surfing, I've seen a near total move to PHP, with the following technologies only being seen on unusual websites:
Java, Lotus Domino, ASP.

I'm not being partisan here (I used to program Domino a lot). ASP is not only implemented by Microsoft, there is a free version for linux, but I haven't seen it in a long time.
I think more folks should try to implement in GCJ instead of C++ for rich client GUI apps, and console programs.
But every time, at the moment, I'd be looking at PHP for a webapp.
Posted by hipparchus2001 (12 comments )
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True
I know that Java isn't always slower then C++, but the fact that you can not directly access low level hardware instructions and that there is always an extra layer between your java program and your hardware(JRE) makes it generally slower.

They have really optimized java, so speed isn't as nearly as huge of an issue as it once was. Just like C++ can be as fast as well written assembler, java can be as fast as C++. But it isn't a false statement to say that assembly is faster then C++, neither is it for java vs C++.

I really like the syntax of java, it is way more cleaner then the syntax swamp that is C++, although the new generics crap muddied up the waters a bit for such small gains. If only, java could be compiled into machine code by design, I think it would have taken much from C and C++. If you need it, C and C++ can be just as platform independent as Java.
Posted by Bill Dautrive (1179 comments )
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PHP WebDevelopment
PHP is coming up like any thing.
Easy to learn. Language features are like c and java.
OPPs looks like Java. No need to worry about the data types if speaks in technical terms.

Full fills all the requriments of a web application. Even we can use with GTK which increases the usability of the PHP.

It is like one has to use in his web applications.
Posted by (1 comment )
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PHP is coming up
<a class="jive-link-external" href="http://www.analogstereo.com/peugeot_407_owners_manual.htm" target="_newWindow">http://www.analogstereo.com/peugeot_407_owners_manual.htm</a>
Posted by Ubber geek (325 comments )
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