BCD Brings Mobile App Goodness to WebSmart PHP Edition
December 3, 2013 Alex Woodie
Business Computer Design Int’l. last week unveiled the latest version of its flagship Web application development and runtime environment for IBM i servers. A big part of the WebSmart 10 launch is WebSmart Mobile PHP, a new component that combines server-side PHP code generation with new Mobile jQuery templates to speed the creation of Web-based mobile apps on IBM i. The company also took a big step toward object-oriented PHP development.
The key takeaway with the WebSmart 10 launch is that the same three application templates that BCD released earlier this year for the ILE RPG version of WebSmart Mobile are now available for the PHP version. BCD sells two versions of WebSmart, one for creating RPG-powered Web and mobile apps, and another for PHP-powered Web or mobile apps. The capabilities are nearly identical for each, although the inner plumbing looks very different.
The new jQuery Mobile application templates are all about unlocking the inner speed demon in WebSmart PHP developers, says BCD product manager Marcel Sarrasin. “The key feature is that we now ship templates and they’re based on jQuery Mobile,” Sarrasin says. “So within in a couple of minutes, you can create a touch-friendly mobile application, whereas, if you didn’t have these templates, you could do that, but you’d have to do it yourself.”
The templates make mobile app development easy, Sarrasin says. “When we did the beta a few months ago [for ILE RPG], I sent it to several people, and within 10 minutes, they had created a list of contacts,” Sarrasin says. “You don’t have to worry about the architecture or what is jQuery Mobile. You don’t have to worry about any of that. It’s all about the templates. Instead you can start thinking about what fields do I want on the screen? What kind of validation do I want to put on them?”
BCD also took its first step into the object-oriented PHP waters with WebSmart 10. All PHP applications generated by WebSmart PHP’s DB2 templates are now wrapped in PHP objects, the company says. Inside, the PHP application is still laid out in a procedural format, but the object-oriented wrapper will provide for easier maintenance, testing, and reuse of application objects, Sarrasin says.
“What we’re selling is an introduction to object oriented PHP,” he says. “Most of the code within in the application is still written in a procedural way. The database access is in that application . . . hasn’t been externalized in a class on its own, because we know we have to do this in steps. To the programmer, it will still be fairly step-by-step procedural coding of applications, but we’re setting them up to actually creating objects. It’s not that different. There are a few higher level concepts they have to understand. But for the most part, it’s not that big of a leap.”
WebSmart 10 also brings integration with the open source IBM i toolkit for PHP that was developed by IBM and Zend Technologies. Many WebSmart PHP edition customers call existing RPG programs sitting on their IBM i servers. Previously, BCD included code snippets that allowed WebSmart PHP developers to call RPG programs using the old toolkit, which was based on the Easycom product from Aura Equipements. The new open source IBM i toolkit requires fewer lines of code to call a program, BCD says.
BCD has also improved PHP file validation with this release. Developers will no longer receive validation errors related to certain types of files, the company says.
While most of the focus with the WebSmart 10 launch is on WebSmart PHP, there are some new features in the ILE version, which is also at version 10 now (the previous release was version 9.6). Among the new features is the capability for an ILE program to support multiple active pipes and named pipes. This allows multiple outputs for one action, such as a Web application capable of emailing a form output and a diagnostic email related to it, the company says. Version 10 also brings new “htmlencode” and “jsonencode” functions to protect programs from malicious user data, as well as new find-and-replace functions; new IDE shortcuts; support for opening documents from Windows Explorer’s context menu; and support for mass generating programs.