PHP development comes to Google Android

Spanish open source venture provides tools and documentation for PHP developers who want to create Android apps

Developers at an open source company in Spain are leading an effort to boost PHP application development for Android-based phones.

Called PHP for Android (PFA), the project supports Google's Scripting Layer for Android (SL4A) project, formerly called Android Scripting Environment (ASE).

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"PFA aims to make PHP development in Android not only possible but also feasible [by] providing tools and documentation," said PFA founder and developer Ivan Mosquera Paulo, a software engineer at Irontec, near Bilbao, Spain, in an email on Friday. More information and releases are found at PFA's website.

PHP support would follow the availability of Android interpreters for Python, Lua, and JavaScript, Mosquera Paulo said.

"I thought that there was no reason why PHP support couldn't be added, so I started to work on it with my team at Irontec. We were really interested in achieving this because we had already worked in Android development (in a project for Vodafone) but our favorite tool is PHP," said Mosquera Paulo. "We thought that it would be great having PHP available.

"We thought that this project would be really interesting for any PHP developer. And we have had far more than 10,000 unique visits, so this proves that we were right. We want this project to be a chance for a lot of people for whom there was a huge development wall: Java," Mosquera Paulo said. The Java language is the primary means of authoring Android applications.

Currently, it is possible to run PHP scripts on Android via PFA's unofficial ASE build or its PhpForAndroid application.

"Our current APK (Android app) provides support to SL4A," Mosquera Paulo said. "Thanks to this, PHP developers can run scripts and test their PHP code on their Android phone or emulator. Our APK installs a PHP version compiled for Android phones and a few extra needed files."

Soon, it will be possible to distribute that PHP code as an Android application.

"We're working on this, and this will mean that PHP developers will be able to sell their apps like Java developers do," said Mosquera Paulo.

The success of the project depends on community feedback and support, Mosquera Paulo said: "We have seen a lot of interest, so we hope that more and more people get involved."

SL4A brings scripting languages to Android by allowing developers to edit and execute scripts and interactive interpreters directly on the Android device, according to Google Labs.

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