Aldon Brings RPG and PHP Development Closer
November 10, 2009 Alex Woodie
For the first time, RPG and PHP developers can access change management functionality from the same screen and the same integrated development environment (IDE). Thanks to a new Eclipse plug-in released last week by Aldon, developers won’t need to jump back and forth between IDEs from Zend Technologies and IBM. Instead, they can view code and change management tools for PHP and i OS languages like RPG, from either Zend Studio or WDSC.
Aldon has been at the forefront of the System i community’s attraction to PHP as a route to application modernization. For some time, it has supported PHP in its application lifecycle management software, enabling PHP programmers to track the ongoing development of applications. It has also worked with Zend to create plug-ins for its IDEs, as it does with IDEs from IBM, Microsoft, and other development tool makers. Users have even been able to store PHP code in the same underlying repository that Aldon stores changes to RPG, COBOL, Java, .NET, and other languages.
But there was a roadblock to productivity when it came to System i types who wanted to view and work with System i objects and PHP code in the same place. Several Aldon customers asked their vendor for an answer, so Aldon and Zend went to work on it.
The companies attacked the problem at the plug-in level. First Zend released a plug-in for Zend Studio that brought compatibility with WDSC (and newer releases of RDi). Last week, Aldon announced the release of an updated plug-in for Zend Studio 7.0 that’s compatible with Eclipse versions 3.4 and 3.5, and which brought it all together.
As a result, System i developers can, for the first time, access System i objects and PHP code from the same IDE, says Modi Ronen, director of sales engineering for Aldon. “Now you can edit RPG code and PHP on the same screen,” he says. “We could work with both of them [Zend Studio and WDSC or RDi] before, but we could not put it in one IDE together, until recently.”
The plug-in compatibility should be a boon to worker productivity for Aldon customers doing development in PHP and RPG. One System i shop that’s already utilizing the new capability is Eldorado Hotel and Casino in Reno, Nevada. As a longtime System i customer, Eldorado has used Aldon’s software to manage RPG and Windows development and provide audit trails to meet state Gaming Control Board and Sarbanes Oxley requirements.
When Eldorado started developing kiosk applications in PHP, however, the smooth application management lifecycle was thrown for a bit of a loop, with manual processes required to reconcile PHP development tasks that were separate from RPG and .NET development tasks.
“With the PHP development, I was finding myself having to copy whole directories to move a package through the lifecycle, instead of just the objects that I needed,” says Ken Berg, director of information services for Eldorado. “One Web page would be so enormous, when I knew it didn’t have to be. That’s when we decided we needed a change management solution like Aldon for the PHP side of the house as well.”
Eldorado was one of the earlier adopters of the new Aldon plug-in, and it has already paid dividends. The company is able to track development processes for all environments in a single Aldon repository. Compliance is also made easier, as is the promotion to production process, and inventorying software assets. “It was a no brainer to go with Aldon for PHP,” Berg says.
Aldon has just a published a full case study on Eldorado, which is available on its Web site.
The new plug-in is available as a free download to customers on Lifecycle Manager (Enterprise Edition), so customers on Lifecycle Manager (IBM i Edition) will need to purchase additional software to get the functionality, if they don’t already have it. The plug-in works with Zend Studio version 6.1 or version 7.0, WDSC or RDi, and Eclipse version 3.4 and 3.5.
The availability of the plug-in also marks an industry first for Aldon, which is the only vendor that’s figured out how to accomplish the co-habitation of PHP and i OS objects in an IDE from a change management tool’s perspective.
Ronen says the design of Aldon’s code repository gives it an advantage over other change management vendors. “I think they will have a really tough time because of the way we interact with an IBM i object,” he says. “I don’t think they can do it the same way.”