Zend Studio 9 Hits the Gym and the Cloud
Published: November 29, 2011
by Alex Woodie
A leaner, meaner version of Zend Studio is now available that will start up faster and consume fewer resources than it did before, thanks to new capabilities for turning off unneeded functions. Also, Zend Technologies has added new cloud connectors to the Eclipse-based development environment that makes it easier to run Zend Studio development workloads on a Zend cloud, or production workloads on an Amazon, Rackspace, or IBM cloud.
It wouldn't be fair to say that Zend Studio--which supports development of PHP applications for deployment on IBM i, Windows, Linux, and other platforms--had let itself go and gotten fat over the last few releases. After all, when you're the world's most popular development environment for writing PHP applications, you've got a big incentive to keep your friends and fans happy.
The problem is that the Eclipse Framework wilts under the weight of so many options, which Zend Studio users didn't always know they had activated. So with Zend Studio 9, the company really focused on making it "dead simple" to turn on and off the features and tune the environment to be fast and responsive. As a result, the company claims that system startup will increase by an average of 67 percent, its default disk footprint will decline by 40 percent, and its memory footprint will be smaller, too.
Zend Studio 9 also introduces support of the Git version control system (perhaps this was the veritable straw that broke the camel's back). Git is an open source, distributed version control system that's hailed for its speed, and its capability to handle large development projects, such as Linux. Originally developed by Linus Torvalds, every Git directory node is a full-fledged repository that includes the complete history and isn't dependent on a central server.
Obviously Zend Studio 9 users don't have to use Git, but with Git gaining popularity in the Linux world, the capability to use Git to handle PHP development projects is a welcomed feature. This release also brings support for the GitHub, a Web-based hosting service for Git-managed projects. Zend boasts: "Armed with Git/GitHub support, Zend Studio 9.0 users can bring in code from a repository to clone, share and branch it, working and collaborating more efficiently than was possible before."
On the cloud front, Zend Studio 9 introduces several welcome features. For starters, this release gives users the option of writing PHP apps in the Zend Developer Cloud, which is based at www.phpcloud.com and includes a PHP runtime, a set of PHP extensions, the Zend Framework, and several debugging and code-tracing capabilities (not to mention Git integration).
Zend Studio 9 also brings new options for promoting PHP apps from the Zend Developer Cloud into one of several production clouds. The easiest cloud hosting company to work with may be Amazon, thanks to the inclusion of Amazon Web Services (AWS) toolkit in Zend Studio 9.
But developers can also feel confident about moving their PHP apps to a cloud hosted by Rackspace, IBM, or RightScale thanks to new test deployment packages that leverage the Zend Application Fabric, the Zend Server-powered "elastic cloud platform."
Zend announced last month at ZendCon that it's supporting IBM's SmartCloud initiative with its www.phpcloud.com and Zend Developer Cloud offerings. Obviously, there are no options here yet for running an IBM i-based PHP app in the SmartCloud, since IBM has still not announced any intention of rolling out a production cloud environment for IBM i workloads. But that doesn't mean that Zend Studio, coupled with the IBM i-specific hooks found in the forthcoming release of Zend Server for IBM i version 5.5 doesn't make an excellent environment for writing on-premise, IBM i-based PHP apps.
Zend Studio 9 is available now for Windows, Linux, and Mac OS/X platforms. For more information, see the vendor's website at www.zend.com.
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