Zend mixing PHP, AJAX for RIAs

Integration provided between the open-source framework and Dojo Toolkit

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

Zend Framework 1.6, the company's open-source framework, integrates with the Dojo Toolkit for AJAX. Developers thus gain 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 accomplished via a piece of software called Zend_Dojo.

In this approach, developers would use Zend Framework to build JavaScript-enabled Web applications that Zend Framework renders, said Wil Sinclair, the Zend project lead for Zend Framework.

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

Also added in version 1.6 is full support for SOAP Web services. With that support, developers could build integration with an application based on Microsoft's .Net Framework. Jeffrey Hammond, a Forrester Research analyst, 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," Hammond said.

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

Version 1.6 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, Sinclair said. 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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