In 2013, life for developers is going to get interesting, say industry watchers -- which sounds great until you remember that old (purportedly) Chinese curse. Living in "interesting times" is likely to prove challenging to hard-working codederos.
Dana Gardner, president and principal analyst for Interarbor Solutions (and a must-read blogger) sees 2013 as the time for developers to make strategic bets on both mobile and cloud, but he also advises caution.
"Sorting out the Web-vs-native development equation (and how to best target the most devices) gets trickier in 2013," he said. "Selling software as native apps is costly and high-stakes. Web-only is lower in costs and may get better adoption, but with really low margins, usually. The bottom line is that developers need to be better at forward-looking business development and micro-economics, no matter how good they are at their coding crafts."
If you want to see where this particular debate is headed, Gardner said, keep your eyes on current trends in game development. He points to cross-platform PC-based virtual environments with cloud services, such as Steam, vs. proprietary consoles, or more pure SaaS games, such as Minecraft.
While you're sorting out "Web-vs-native," you're also going to have to think carefully about picking cloud partners, both in terms of the technology and the relationship, Gardner said. Start by asking yourself a lot of questions.
"PaaS strategies and making the right choices about them have huge implications for next five years," Gardner said. "Losing control to a PaaS may be advantageous in economic and risk terms, but it's still a big bet. Are there ways to hedge? Should a multi-PaaS approach hold for the near term? If tools and IDEs are nearly the same, what not chose a multi-PaaS approach? Write once, PaaS anywhere? Will enterprises also go for multiple sources on PaaS or pick one? Developers should have a say in these decisions, as ISVs and as enterprise dev players."
"The good news," Gardner added, "is that CIOs and enterprise strategists are sorting this out too, and a developer with strong insights can rise quickly by reducing uncertainty and bringing clarity to the planning process. So developers should raise their hands and be heard, not sit back and wait for the dictates from above at this dynamic stage in the business."
Randy Heffner, vice president and principal analyst at Forrester Research, is a leading expert on architectures and design approaches to building enterprise applications (and another blogger worth reading). He agrees that 2013 will a big year for developers defining their mobile strategies, but he argues that those decisions need to be made within the context of "cross-channel interaction."
"It is easy to be all about getting a mobile app out there and to forget that what your customers and employees really need is to be effective across mobile, Web, voice, e-mail, social, and other channels," Heffner said. "Even if today's challenge is focused on mobile, if you don't consider how today's mobile app will, in the future, grow to be cross-channel, you're building in significant rework."
Heffner goes into this point in detail in his November 2012 report, "Use a Reference Architecture to Speed Cross-Channel Digital Experience Delivery."
Heffner also believes that finding a new way to think about integration is going to be a critical developer challenge in 2013.
"The old mindset for integration is that its purpose is to connect and reconcile among siloed applications," he said. "When you add to this the proliferation of integration technologies and patterns (SOA, BPM, CEP, business rules, etc.), you start adding technology silos on top of the application silos. What we need is an integrated view that focuses on the real goal of business technology: building an effective, agile business. Rather than putting siloed applications at the center of the design model, we need to put the design of our business at the center.
Heffner calls this idea "digital business design," and he blogs on the topic here.
Al Hilwa, program director for IDC's application development software research, believes that the biggest challenge facing developers in 2013 boils down to effective navigation of their platform choices.
"The world is quickly shifting to one where applications, both on the client and the server, have many choices of platforms competing for developer affectations," Hilwa said. "For applications targeting consumers, and even for those targeting enterprises in the age of BYOD, choices have to be made about which platforms to support and which to leave behind or defer until a later time. For each of the major platforms, like iOS or Android, the developers are aware that their potential users are making selections between ecosystems of content and services, and so they must make choices that are similar to target those users. Once a platform is chosen, then decisions have to be made about whether to approach the application development with native tools or with Web tools targeting mobile browsers, where much of the code can be leveraged for supporting other platforms."
"However, targeting HTML5 involves compromises in functionality and performance that also require careful navigation," he added. "On back-end platforms, developers have to choose cloud services, whether to operate on IaaS and spin their own machines or whether to use more curated models which support certain programming languages in a more intimate fashion. Fundamentally, 2013 is a year of developer choices to an even greater degree than any other which preceded it, and with these choices come a lot of anguish and agonizing."
Hilwa's latest research reports are available on the IDC Web site.
Mike Gualtieri, principal analyst at Forrester Research (and no-nonsense blogger), offers a succinct New Year's recommendation for developers:
"Write a mobile app already," he said. "You gotta have mobile app development on your resume. Even if it just means you downloaded the Android SDK or Apple Xcode and hacked out a test app. Carve out a Saturday afternoon and just do it. That's all the time it will take if you are already a pro Java, C# or C++ developer. Now you can talk with some authority about mobile app development because your next job will probably depend on it."
Posted by John K. Waters on 01/07/2013 at 1:13 PM1 comments
I should probably send Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg a thank-you note. Ever since he told reporters that the biggest mistake his company had made so far was "betting too much on HTML 5 rather than native" in its mobile software development strategy, I've heard from a lot of interesting and creative HTML 5 users with, as you might guess, a slightly different view of the latest incarnation of the venerable markup language. Last week I sat down with two developers who took Mr. Zuckerberg's comment as a challenge.
"We don't want to dis the Facebook team," Jacky Nguyen told me. "The Facebook app is hard, and there are a lot of things about it that make it difficult to build an awesome app that these guys grappled with. But they threw HTML 5 under the bus instead of facing the fact that this was a difficult programming problem that's just as hard to do on native."
Nguyen is lead architect for a Redwood City, Calif.-based company called Sencha, which makes standards-based Web development products, including some HTML 5-based frameworks. He and Jamie Avins, who leads the company's graphics team, were "irked" (their word) by the fear, uncertainty, and doubt Zuckerberg's comment seemed to spread about HTML 5. And they set out, in their spare time, to prove him wrong.
"We got a little mad," Avins admits. "There are a lot of us who believe in this technology, and we don't like it when people say it sucks. We actually saw [Zuckerberg's comment] as a real problem. I went to Jacky and I said, OK, what's it going to take to do this thing? We spent some time researching exactly what they were doing [at Facebook] and what the challenges would be, and Jacky went at it head on."
The two looked under the hood of the FB mobile application, where they say they discovered that most of the so-called native iOS app actually used Web technologies. But the news feed -- the hardest part from a technical standpoint -- was definitely native. That's the part Nguyen rebuilt in HTML 5. He used his company's mobile app framework, Sencha Touch, which is the cornerstone of the Sencha HTML 5 platform. Nguyen matched the look and feel of the FB app, though he didn't build in every feature. In addition to the news feed, he built a multi-touch photo viewer (including pinch, pan, zoom, etc.); the user profile page; the overlays for notifications, friend requests, and messages; and sliding menus.
On Monday, Sencha unveiled the fruits of Nguyen and Avins' labors: "Fastbook," an HTML 5 app for iOS and Android, built entirely in HTML 5, which mimics Facebook's native app, including real FB data access via Facebook's API. A video demo of the app is available on Video. Nguyen and Avins also blogged on the release.
I got to see a demo of the new app on a basket of Apple and Android phones -- including my own iPhone 4S. It performed as advertised.
"When people go wrong with HTML 5, nine times out of ten, they're thinking of it as Web-dev technology," he said. "But it's really a set of app-dev technologies designed to make the browser a legitimate app runtime."
Kopacki also reminded me that there was a bit more to Zuckerberg's now infamous comment than typically gets talked about. He went on to say that "…it's not that HTML 5 is bad. I'm actually, on long-term, really excited about it."
"HTML 5 doesn't have a marketing department," Kopacki added. "Just folks like us, who don't own it, but who love it and believe in it. And we think 2013 is going to be a big year for HTML 5."
On Monday, the standards-setting Worldwide Web Consortium (W3C) announced that HTML 5 and the Canvas 2D specification are now feature complete.
"The broader the reach of Web technology, the more our stakeholders demand a stable standard," W3C CEO Jeff Jaffe said in a statement. "As of today, businesses know what they can rely on for HTML 5 in the coming years, and what their customers will demand. Likewise, developers will know what skills to cultivate to reach smart phones, cars, televisions, ebooks, digital signs and devices not yet known."
About 63 percent of Web and application developers are actively using HTML 5, the W3C said in the announcement.
Sencha also announced the "HTML 5 is Ready App Contest," which invites Sencha developers to build their own apps that "prove the power of HTML 5." The company is offering $20,000 in cash and "cutting edge devices" as prizes. The contest is open now. Details are available here.
Posted by John K. Waters on 12/20/2012 at 1:44 PM2 comments
Kotlin, the JVM-targeted programming language developed by software development toolmaker JetBrains, passed its fourth milestone this week. The big upgrades in Kotlin M4 (besides the 128 "closed issues") are its improved compatibility with JDK 7 and the introduction of KAnnotator, a tool for automatically annotating developer libraries.
Kotlin project lead Andrey Breslav announced the latest milestone release on the Project Kotlin blog post. Breslav, who is also serves in a Java Community Process expert group for JSR-335 (Project Lambda), said the milestone was released from "under snow," with a link to photos of the Prague street where the company is headquartered buried under the white stuff.
This milestone release improves on the type argument inference (its faster), tweaks the code completion feature, and makes it possible to copy and instance of a data class (data classes were introduced in Kotlin M3) and selectively change some of its properties while keeping the object immutable.
Breslav waxed poetic about the addition of the KAnnotator tool in this release: "A programmer is a lazy creature, and by virtue of our laziness, we want to automate as much as we can," he wrote. "And today, along with Kotlin M4, we roll out KAnnotator: a tool that annotates your libraries automatically (the tool is written in Kotlin, of course)."
Developers simply tell KAnnotator to infer annotations from their jar files, and it then writes them to XML. Breslav shows an example of annotations for methods and fields that can be added to projects and are visible to both the Java IDE and the Kotlin compiler. He adds that this new tool "will grow much smarter" in future versions.
"We know that Java is going to stand long, but we believe that the community can benefit from a new statically typed JVM-targeted language free of the legacy trouble and having the features so desperately wanted by the developers," Breslav said at the time.
According to Wikipedia, Kotlin is the name of a Russian island located near the head of the Gulf of Finland, 20 miles west of Saint Petersburg in the Baltic Sea. One of JetBrains’ development offices is located in Saint Petersburg.
Kotlin is currently under active development, More information is available on the Kotlin Web site, and the Kotlin issue tracker. The source code is also available on GitHub.
Posted by John K. Waters on 12/12/2012 at 1:28 PM1 comments
Last week's announcement that VMware is spinning off a new organization called the Pivotal Initiative under parent company EMC to manage its application development and deployment products, including SpringSource, Gemfire, and Cloud Foundry, is probably a good thing for developers. Among other things, says 451 Research analyst Matt Aslett, it will better enable both VMware and EMC to tap into the developer-led adoption of cloud and big data technologies.
Aslett points to 451's survey of storage professionals (through its TheInfoPro service), which indicates that those responsible for purchasing traditional data storage technologies are not currently engaged in big data purchasing decisions. "[O]ur research indicates that adoption of technologies such as Hadoop is being led by functional and departmental business unit development teams rather than strategic corporate IT projects," said Aslett in an e-mailed interview.
The Pivotal Initiative will also manage Pivotal Labs' agile software development tools and services and EMC's Greenplum big-data analytics group. Greenplum in particular will benefit from being part of the Pivotal Initiative, Aslett said, because it will be able to exploit closer relationships with the vFabric, Spring, and Cetas teams.
"EMC has already attempted to bridge the gap with programs focused on engaging with 'data scientists' through its Greenplum, business," he added. He cited an example of potentially "developer-friendly technology" that the Pivotal Initiative might produce: EMC Greenplum Chorus, the collaborative data science and analysis platform originally started by Greenplum prior to its acquisition by EMC. The platform was completed thanks to a joint engineering effort that involved EMC Greenplum, VMware's vFabric Data Director team and Pivotal Labs prior to its acquisition by EMC, Aslett pointed out.
IDC analyst Al Hilwa says that the spinoff came as no surprise to industry watchers. Paul Maritz, who led VMware for four years, passed the reins to incoming CEO Pat Gelsinger in August at the annual VMworld conference, and rumors of a reorganization have been circulating ever since.
"I think the idea of grouping all the application development and deployment related technologies in one division and separately from virtualization is sound and healthy for developers," Hilwa said. "It has the potential to bring a lot more focus on developers. Placing it with EMC allows VMware to maximize its virtualization opportunities with other platform players, which is, after all, how it is used in customer data centers today. Maritz has the skill, knowledge, and passion to drive this new division, though making money may still be a challenge. Going to market with the broader Pivotal portfolio allows the more marketable and monetizable back-end software and services to essentially pay for developer technologies."
Dana Gardner, principle analyst at Interarbor Solutions, also likes the spinoff plan, but he says the move needs to be about more than development efficiencies.
"It's interesting that EMC and VMware are pooling these specific resources into a new entity," Gardner said. "Platform-as-a-Service (PaaS) is a next big opportunity for cloud, but it needs to be more than appealing to just developers. PaaS needs to provide a consolidation function between various cloud models, and that includes automation for accessing Big Data and analytics resources regardless of where they reside. PaaS also needs to be integral to hybrid computing as an operations model enabler [and] an ongoing lifecycle function…"
Gardner sees VMware and EMC recognizing a larger role for PaaS, and therefore a larger opportunity for the Pivotal Initiative. "Data has long been thought of as a by-product of applications," he said, "but data resources and their business value are the application, increasingly. PaaS entwined with data integration and management functions can, in a sense, redefine applications."
"I'm seeing enterprise IT planners now recognizing that their IT transformation efforts, their Big Data efforts, and their cloud development ambitions all need to be synched and organized in conjunction," he added. "So if EMC and VMware can automate and organize that to a significant degree, it could be a very appealing adoption path for developers, enterprise operators, and cloud service providers alike. And it places them ahead of Amazon, where they need to get."
Posted by John K. Waters on 12/10/2012 at 2:43 PM0 comments
Rumors began circulating earlier this year that Dell might be developing a laptop specifically designed for developers. Then Barton George, Dell's Web Vertical Director, began blogging about Sputnik, a "scrappy skunkworks project" that would combine the XPS 13-inch laptop with the Ubuntu 12.04 Linux distribution.
About a week ago, George blogged that "Sputnik has landed!" The Austin, TX-based computer maker is now offering a Developer Edition of the machine based on "community input" that "pushed it from an exploratory project to an official product."
I talked with George recently about Dell's decision to create a developer-focused Linux laptop using their popular XPS-13 Ultrabook. He first clarified what Dell means by "Web vertical," his bailiwick.
"That's everybody from the startups in the dorm rooms to the Facebooks and the Googles who use the Web as a platform," he said. "In that space, we believe the developers are the ones who really call the shots. And we asked ourselves, what can we do to make their lives easier?"
George credits Stephen O'Grady, principal analyst and co-founder of RedMonk, for giving him the idea to build an Ubuntu-based laptop. He initially doubted that the idea would fly at Dell (he couldn't come up with big sales predictions for such a targeted device), but it happened that Michel Coté, O'Grady's former colleague at RedMonk, now director of cloud strategy at Dell, was involved with an intra-company incubation fund. George pitched him the idea, and they were off and running.
Dell worked closely with Canonical, the chief commercial sponsor of Ubuntu, on the project. Canonical added the idea of connecting the laptop to the cloud, so that users could develop on LXC containers, replicate the environment on the actual client, and then jettison it to the cloud via the JuJu service deployment and orchestration framework. (Ubuntu's LXC is a userspace tool that controls the kernel namespaces and c-group features to create system or application containers.)
George liked that idea too, because Dell has stepped into the cloud via OpenStack, an open source project made up of several interrelated projects focused on delivering components for a cloud infrastructure solution. Dell is on a list of 145 participating companies that includes AMD, Cisco, Citrix, Intel and Microsoft.
"We suddenly saw this as an end-to-end solution, rather than a point project," George said.
The company unveiled the Sputnik Project in May at the Ubuntu developer conference in Oakland, Calif.
"We were blown away by the response," George recalls. "My blog post, where we announced it, has drawn 63,000 responses -- it normally gets about 500. We could see that we had struck a nerve."
When the company announced the beta program six months ago, it received 6,000 applications from around the world, George says.
"A lot of what we're trying to accomplish here with these tools is support for DevOps," Coté said. "To me, DevOps is largely about making development more efficient and getting to production sooner, and tightening that feedback loop developers have between idea, code, and deploy."
George added that Sputnik is not intended to be a "Mac killer." Apple's pricey laptop is a favorite among codederos. But there is in this market a certain amount of low-hanging fruit, he said -- developers who would prefer to be working on open systems, for example, but opt in to proprietary technologies to get something they don't have to fiddle with.
"For that segment, we're offering a compelling alternative," he said.
Much more information about the Sputnik Project is available on the Dell Web site and George's blog.
Posted by John K. Waters on 12/05/2012 at 3:41 PM4 comments
Java-based Platform-as-a-Service (PaaS) provider Jelastic has released a new plug-in for the Eclipse integrated development environment (IDE).
The plug-in is designed to allow developers working with the Java Platform Enterprise Edition (Java EE) to manage their deployments and hosting environments from within the popular IDE.
Jelastic is a Java and PHP cloud hosting platform designed for hosted service providers. It runs any Java application in the cloud, the company says, without code or language changes, and without the need to write for specific APIs. It supports any JVM-based application, including apps developed with Java 6, Java 7, JRuby, Scala and Groovy. The Jelastic platform supports three SQL databases: MariaDB, MySQL and PostgreSQL. It also provides non-SQL database support for MongoDB and CouchDB. And its list of support app servers includes Tomcat (6 and 7), GlassFish and Jetty. Jelastic provides its users with developer tools through plug-ins for such build systems as Maven, Ant, Hudson and Jenkins.
The Jelastic Plugin 1.0, available now from the Eclipse Marketplace or installed automatically from Eclipse, makes it possible for developers to "pick and choose the features you want to use from the wide open-source world of plug-in options," Jelastic PR manager Marina Sprava wrote in a blog post. "Also, Eclipse has some of the best tooling available for JEE projects. Eclipse is more than a Java IDE, it serves a wide variety of purposes -- from Java, AOP, Web, to C/C++ development."
Palo Alto, Calif.-based Jelastic was founded in 2010 by Hivetext, a Zhytomyr, Ukraine-based startup focused on Java application development in the cloud. Ruslan Synytsky, founder and CEO of Jelastic, says that his company’s flagship platform is the first Java PaaS to provide "full application compatibility and developer control," and "the only choice for Java developers" who want to avoid lock-in. The company claims more than 1,500 registered Jelastic developers have deployed nearly 1,000 applications since mid-2011.
James Gosling, the creator of Java, mentioned Jelastic in a recent talk about his new role as a software engineer for Liquid Robotics. It was posted on YouTube by Marakana TechTV, the open-source educational content initiative; he gave the platform a glowing review.
The company said it plans to offer additional plug-ins for integration with other IDEs in the future.
Posted by John K. Waters on 11/28/2012 at 10:04 AM0 comments
Telerik, the company that makes the Kendo UI framework, recently published a survey of more than 4,000 developers, whom they contacted in September about their usage of HTML5. The developers ranged from PHP and Ruby coders to Java jocks and .NET codederos. Among the more noteworthy findings: 82 percent of developers say HTML5 is "important for their job immediately, or in the next 12 months."
"We think that's a pretty un-ignorable stat," says Todd Anglin, vice president of Telerik's HTML5 Web and Mobile Tools group. "In a lot of enterprises we're seeing a shift away from Silverlight and Flash and a rise very quickly in the popularity of HTML5. They're going to have to find a way to adopt these technologies without disrupting the flow and the productivity of their teams."
This survey also suggests that HTML5 adoption is on a faster track than widely believed. Sixty-three percent of respondents said that they are using the technology today.
The folks at Telerik also worked in a question about Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg's recent comment that the biggest mistake his company had made so far was "betting too much on HTML5 rather than native" in its mobile software development strategy. Survey respondents said that Facebook's decision to rewrite their HTML5 mobile iPhone app using mostly native code "has had minimal influence on either adoption, or attitude toward adoption, of HTML5. In fact, according to Telerik, 73 percent of the developers surveyed said Facebook's decision had "little to no impact" on their confidence on future HTML5 adoption.
Embarcadero makes a tool designed to allow developers to use the same code base for Web and native apps called HTML5 Builder, so I guess a grain of salt is appropriate here, too -- though I have to add that Swindell is a real veteran of this industry who has seen many changes since his days at the original Borland.
In a long blog post, Jeremy Allaire, CEO of Boston-based online video hosting firm Brightcove, argued that Zuckerberg's "recent public flogging of HTML5" and statements made by the late Apple CEO Steve Jobs "lashing out at Flash" are actually hurting developer productivity. He advocates a hybrid approach:
…With no single company dominating across all categories of devices, app publishers must build for multiple consumer device platforms -- PCs, smartphones, tablets, and smart TVs. To take advantage of these consumer devices and to provide the best user experience and functionality, developers should be building hybrid apps that fuse HTML5 and native code, providing maximum cross-platform leverage, while going native where it counts."
I've been thinking about the tension building among developers around this Web-versus-native argument as just the inevitable stress and strain of evolution. Allaire sees it as potentially more of a religious war. "This is surely an epic time in our industry," he writes.
I think he might be right.
Posted by John K. Waters on 11/16/2012 at 4:26 PM0 comments
The race for the U.S. presidency has rightly grabbed the headlines, but the results are in for another election that should matter to Java jocks. The 2012 Fall Executive Committee (EC) Election of the Java Community Process (JCP) was completed last week. Java PaaS provider CloudBees and the U.K.-based Java user group London Java Community (LJC) beat out seven other nominees for two open elected seats on the committee. They join newly ratified seat holders Cinterion Wireless Modules, Credit Suisse, Fujitsu, and Hewlett-Packard.
The JCP is the group that certifies Java specifications, and the EC is charged with guiding "the evolution of Java."
This is the first election of members to a new EC that resulted from the merging of two committees -- one overseeing Java SE and Java EE; one overseeing Java ME -- which was finalized in September.
The JCP has been remaking itself for the past two years: In 2010, JCP chair Patrick Curran announced Java Specification Request (JSR) 348, an initiative focused on adding transparency and improving participation, agility, and governance of the JCP. A year later, Curran and company announced plans to combine ECs under JSR 355 ("JCP Executive Committee Merge").
"It seems like the right thing to do," JCP chair Patrick Curran told ADTmag in an earlier interview, "that we should have a single executive committee which will deal with all of the three platforms -- because it is one platform with three flavors."
The JCP EC now comprises 24 members, including 16 ratified members and 8 elected members, each of whom serve two-year terms. The terms are staggered so that 12 of the 24 seats are up for election/ratification every year. Oracle, as the shepherd of Java and owner of the Java trademark, is the only permanent EC member.
Ratified members are nominated by the Program Management Office (PMO) of the JCP, which currently includes the chair of the JCP, Patrick Curran, and three staff members. The nominees are approved or rejected by a majority vote. Any member of the community can run for an open seat.
About a quarter (23.7 percent) of the 1,131 eligible voters weighed in this year, according to the JCP. That's up from last year's 23 percent. The "polls" closed at midnight on Oct. 29. New members of the EC officially assume their roles on Nov. 13.
CloudBees and the LJC beat out five companies (Cisco Systems, Liferay, North Sixty-One Ltd, Software AG and ZeroTurnaround) one individual (Giuseppe Dell'Abate), and a user group (MoroccoJUG).
The responsibilities of EC members include: selection of Java Specification Requests (JSRs) for development, approval of draft specs for public review and final specs, review of TCK appeals and approval of maintenance revisions, among others.
Additional details of this year's election results are available on the JCP Program Office page here.
Posted by John K. Waters on 11/05/2012 at 3:27 PM0 comments
Today at the 6th annual ZendCon PHP developer conference, underway this week in Santa Clara, CA, Zend Technologies CEO Andi Gutmans plans to unveil his company's new "mobile first" approach to application development, along with an "end-to-end" strategy to help the PHP developer community move into mobile and the cloud.
"The thing to keep in mind," Gutmans told me in a pre-conference interview, "is that it's not mobile or cloud anymore; it's mobile and cloud. They are very much interlinked. I see mobile as the cause and cloud as the effect or enabler. And they're both crucial to the enterprise."
Gutmans said he will be urging attendees to adopt a "mobile first" strategy that addresses what his company sees as "the realities of modern enterprise app development" -- the spread of composite apps, the different requirements of mobile interface design, and the recognition that users are "an essential part of the design process."
"Today, most companies are outsourcing their client-side [mobile] development on Objective C and Java, because they don't have the internal skill set," Gutmans observed. "But as companies begin adopting a more ‘mobile first' approach, they're going to have to make that a core competency."
But the "mobile first" approach is fraught with challenges. Developers have to optimize their applications to individual device form factors and just generally create more collaborative and social experiences. And what developers need to build these kinds of apps is both a cleaner, cloud-services architecture and an agile, iterative development process.
And that's where Zend Server, the company's cloud application platform.
"There's going to be a big focus on the server side," Gutmans said, "because it's really the server-side that has all the intelligence and business logic to deliver a personalized experience to the user. And we need an agile, iterative development process. PHP is well suited to that, because it's user-centric development."
Attendees will also get an update on new and evolving integrations with Zend Server 6, Gutmans said, including Amazon Marketplace, IBM's PureSystems private cloud, Windows Azure, Google, SoftLayer, LogicWorks, and others. Zend announced a big partnership last year with RightScale, provider of an automated, web-based cloud management platform, on a jointly-developed platform-as-a-service (PaaS) architecture for PHP developers. News about an expansion of that partnership is also likely. In August, Zend partnered with VMware to integrate the vFabric Application Director with the Zend Server 6 beta. Gutmans is set to demo the results of that partnership during his keynote.
Earlier this month Zend announced a partnership with Red Hat to make Zend Server available on its OpenShift PaaS platform. The company also integrated OpenShift's client APIs into its Zend Studio IDE. Red Hat is scheduled to hold a Red-Hat-on-Zend-Server hackathon during the conference.
"With Zen Server 5.6 we evolved our product into the cloud, but we realized that, if we really wanted to go all the way [into the cloud], we needed to do some re-architecting," Gutmans said. "Big pieces of it have now been re-architected and Zend Server 6 is completely saleable in the cloud to hundreds of servers. It's also very API centric -- everything is an API; the UI talks to the server through Web services, so anything you can see in the UI can be fully automated and integrated. This enables us to work with these vendors and really embed it in a way that's seamless and native, whether is Red Hat or Amazon."
"We've taken a complete application server-centric view of the world in Zen Server 6," Gutmans added. "You shouldn't care which servers or how many are running your application. It's all about the app: how do I deploy it, make sure it performs, tune it, configure it? Whether it's running on one server or a hundred, you're managing it in exactly the same way."
I asked Gutmans to pick the "killer" new feature in Zend Server 6. He went with user roles in production. "Developers can log into production environments, see what's going on, see how the application is deployed and configured, see the monitoring event, but not be able to change anything," he said. "We really believe that this is going to help bring development and operations together and help them collaborate in an increasingly agile world."
The company is also set to preview the Zend Studio 10 beta at the conference, including such new features as Zend Framework 2 integration, full PHP 5.4 support, and a bunch of productivity enhancements (improves workflows, code assist, wizards, etc.).
Attendees will also get a look at some new client-side development features in the IDE, including "some really cool" drag-and-drop capabilities for prototyping mobile apps. Gutmans also said to look for features that "basically support" the PhoneGap open source mobile development framework. Expect to see drag-and-drop creation of cloud services on the server side, drag-and-drop creation on the client side, and then seamless deployment into the cloud.
Zend Technologies is the Cupertino, Calif.-based creator and commercial maintainer of the PHP dynamic scripting language. Zend is run by Gutmans and Zeev Suraski, who are key contributors to PHP and the creators of the core PHP scripting engine.
BTW: The hot swag item at this year's show: a fluffy green elephant, 500 of which will be part of the "Elephant Hunt Challenge." Details were not available at press time, but I was told that if I wanted one, I'd have to join the hunt.
Posted by John K. Waters on 10/23/2012 at 10:07 AM0 comments