BCD Adds More Automation, Customization to PHP Tool
August 19, 2008 Alex Woodie
Business Computer Design Int’l last week unveiled WebSmart PHP 2.0, the latest version of its PHP development environment for the System i and other platforms for running PHP code. With version 2, BCD has enhanced the tool’s PHP code generation wizard with the addition of programmer prompts. It also introduced new template customization capabilities that make it easier for programmers to copy elements of existing PHP applications in the creation of new ones.
WebSmart PHP is a new development tool that BCD modeled after its popular RPG ILE code generation environment, WebSmart ILE. The software, which was first announced in May 2007 and delivered in September 2007, is geared toward System i servers and customers, but works with open source platforms like MySQL and Linux, in addition to i OS and DB2/400.
BCD’s goal when it designed WebSmart PHP was to make it easy for RPG programmers to make the move to the PHP language. By utilizing wizards and templates to generate PHP code, and providing documentation of the more than 5,000 PHP commands in a way that RPG programmers are more apt to understand, BCD hopes that RPG programmers will get a head start in PHP development, and not become frustrated and quit (as so many did when faced with Java’s steep learning curve).
BCD continues that trend with WebSmart PHP 2.0, which became available last week. The company says it has developed a new wizard that takes even more work out of the creation of PHP applications. Instead of manually writing code to call existing RPG programs, the new wizard prompts programmers for information about the program, such as its name and location, and then automatically generates the PHP code based on the input.
New templates and template capabilities in version 2 will further reduce the amount of work required of WebSmart PHP developers.
In the first version of WebSmart PHP, BCD shipped about 50 templates that provided a head start for certain types of development projects, such as creating a DB2/400-based PHP application with record-level access, or a MySQL-based PHP application that uses SQL. The number of templates has been bumped up to 75 with version 2.0, providing more out-of-the-box functionality than the previous version.
A new Copy Templates feature will also make it faster and easier for developers to create applications with specific characteristics. The feature allows developers to create new template families that include elements from other program templates, including all the cascading style sheets (CSS) that define how the Web application looks and feels. BCD says it added this function as a result of feedback from customers who were looking for an easy way to match the appearance and functionality of other programs in the enterprise with their new PHP application.
Another handy new feature is the inclusion of separate System i repositories in version 2. Each time WebSmart PHP is installed on a new System i server, a separate repository is created for all of the business rules, BCD says. Programmers in multiple System i environments can toggle between the repositories from the Windows-based WebSmart development environment.
Since its launch 11 months ago, WebSmart PHP has been adopted by some of the most forward-looking System i developers, including Trevor Perry, the popular COMMON speaker, MIDRANGE-L contributor, and CTO of KMR Systems, a System i software developer and consultancy based on Long Island, New York.
KMR is using WebSmart PHP to modernize its green-screen interfaces, improve access to information, and expand the deployment options of its current solutions, Perry says. “KMR is also developing new application modules with WebSmart PHP and Nexus Portal for application frameworks, allowing us to extend our existing DB2, SQL, and ILE RPGIV applications beyond their limits, without losing the investment we have already made,” he adds. “And with BCD’s attention to training and support, rapid development is a reality.”
WebSmart PHP requires core PHP components from Zend (available as Zend Core) to be installed on the System i server. The software runs on i5/OS V5R3 through i 6.1 (i5/OS V6R1), although users should be aware of certain conditions of running on i 6.1; contact BCD for more details and pricing and bundle options.