PHP may not be the hippest programming language these days, but it’s still the workhorse that most web application were built with. To make it simpler to build those applications, Zend this week announced the availability of its Zend Server 7 platform, which includes tools that immediately allow developers to spot potential issues with a piece of code as they write it.
Zend CEO Andi Gutmans says a challenge all developers face is that the majority of application testing takes place after the application has been built. And even when the application is being built, a new generation of continuous testing tools still requires developers to leave the development environment they’re in to access a tool that usually has a completely different user interface.
Z-Ray is a new set of facilities embedded inside Zend Server 7 that allows developers to access a tool bar through which they can drill down to see, for example, how much memory a piece of code is consuming and how much time a particular process is taking to execute.
Gutmans says the idea behind Z-Ray was to come up with a way to fundamentally improve the quality of the code finding its way into PHP applications at a time when it’s easiest for developers to take corrective action.
The impact of that capability on DevOps, says Gutmans, should be profound because it means that the overall quality of the applications being rolled into production should be much higher than it generally is today.
Gutmans says this is only the tip of the improvements that Zend intends to deliver as it extends the capabilities of Z-Ray. Armed with this information, it should be possible for Zend Server to optimize applications based on policies set by developers or apply analytics in a way that suggests alternative methods for writing a particular piece of code.
The degree to which Z-Ray may lead to a resurgence of interest in PHP remains to be seen. There is certainly no shortage of developers with PHP skills. But many of them have also embraced other programming languages over the years. If the quality of the web applications written in PHP increases dramatically, it’s more than possible that demand for PHP applications is going to significantly increase in the months ahead.
Gutmans says Zend hasn’t decided how the Z-Ray capability might find its way into other programming languages. But at a time when the number of applications that developers are being asked to create has never been higher, the less time spent rewriting the same code over again, the better it is going to be for all concerned.