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Eclipse Introduces First Integrated PHP Dev Tools

The Eclipse Foundation has begun targeting the PHP community with a new set of development tools for the Eclipse integrated development environment. As part of its PHP Development Tools (PDT) project, the foundation yesterday released version 1.0 of PDT, a set of Eclipse-based tools and frameworks for developers using PHP.

PHP (PHP Hypertext Preprocessor) is one of the most popular open-source, server-side scripting languages. It's one of the "P"s in the open source LAMP stack (Linux, Apache, MySQL, and PHP/Python/Perl). It can be embedded in HTML, and is especially well-suited for Web development.

The PDT is the Eclipse Foundation's first PHP-focused project, according to Ian Skerrett, the foundation's marketing director.

"This represents a great opportunity for the Eclipse community," Skerrett said. "From the beginning, our core goal has been to provide a platform for tools integration. We all know that developers often use more than one language, and that's especially true when they're building rich Internet applications. The PDT will allow those developers to switch from Java or C/C++ to PHP within one integrated development environment."

PHP developers using PDT will also be able to leverage a large ecosystem of more than 1,400 Eclipse plug-ins, Skerrett added. Even the PDT itself is a plug-in to the Eclipse platform.

The first-ever release of the Eclipse PDT includes:

  • Context sensitive editors that provide capabilities such as syntax highlighting, code assist and code folding;
  • Integration with the Eclipse project model that allows for inspection using the File and Project Outline Views and a new PHP Explorer View;
  • Support for incremental debugging of PHP code; and
  • Extensive frameworks and APIs that allow developers and ISVs to easily extend PDT to create new and interesting PHP-oriented developer tools.

Zend Technologies, the Cupertino, California-based provider of products and services for PHP, has been leading the Eclipse PDT project. Zend product manager Yossi Leon, who served as project lead, said that the PDT's milestone releases have generated lots of interest from the PHP community. The foundation reports more than 300,000 downloads since the first of the year.

Zend began working on the project back in December of 2005, Leon said.

"We took the knowledge we had gained from the solutions we have for PHP to develop these tools," he explained. "But we also got a lot of responses from the community in terms of helping us with bugs and being involved in the newsgroup and mailing lists. We got a lot of questions and ideas for enhancement that helped us very much."

There was a need to have an official PHP project in Eclipse, Leon said, because the PDT is plug-in based; it provides a better, more flexible tool. Also, he said that he's seen an increasingly tight integration between Java and PHP, which is supported in this release.

"Many people move to PHP [for Web development], but they don't want to change the entire Java content they created before," he explained. "By having an interface in PHP to connect to Java, they can join both worlds."

The Eclipse PHP Development Tool, version 1.0, is now available for download from the PDT downloads page. More information about the PDT project can be found here.

About the Author

John K. Waters is a freelance writer based in Silicon Valley. He can be reached at john@watersworks.com.

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