BCD, Zend Extend PHP Partnership

Business Computer Design International (BCD) and Zend Technologies partnered to improve the usability of their PHP solutions for businesses using the IBM i operating system.

Right at the moment, the two companies are focused mainly on sales and marketing initiatives, and BCD’s template-based PHP development tool. But users of both organizations’ offerings can look forward to greater integrations in the products somewhere down the line.

This deal can be said to build on BCD’s PHP initiative involving its WebSmart development environment. Coming out five years ago, WebSmart PHP is now as popular as BCD’s traditional WebSmart ILE development tool, judging from the number of licenses sold. WebSmart PHP makes programming easier by allowing the customer to build PHP code by using application templates and wizards. This speedy approach lets users create a working PHP application in minutes, even with extremely limited knowledge of PHP.

But what about BCD customers who want to use WebSmart PHP on their IBM i server? PHP code needs a runtime, and BCD didn’t offer one; instead, the company would refer its customers to Zend’s IBM i PHP runtimes. Zend created Zend Server for IBM I more than two years ago. Even today, it’s the most feature-rich PHP runtime offered by Zend; it includes features unavailable in Zend’s other PHP runtime for IBM i, the free Zend Server Community Edition for IBM i, or Zend Server CE i. 

The new agreement makes this cross-selling relationship a bit more official. Specifically, BCD will emphasize the bug tracking and code tracing features available only in the paid, feature-rich Zend Server for IBM I. This runtime, incidentally, starts at $7,250 a year – a fee that many businesses running IBM I should be able to afford. The runtime may be well worth the money, for capabilities that let programmers fix problems up to 80 percent faster than if they had to hunt them down without the assistance.

The code tracing capability in Zend Server for IBM i automates the process of identifying bugs and application performance issues. The features, which can tell the programmer the exact line of code that has the problem, allows programmers to fix problems up to 80 percent faster than if they had to hunt for the source of the problem in a log file, says Siddhartha Agarwal, Zend’s vice president of worldwide field operations, and the head of Zend’s sales team.

"We improve the productivity of that [WebSmart PHP] development environment so that developers can debug easier and debug faster," said Siddhartha Agarwal, Zend’s VP of operations and the head of the company’s sales team. "It’s like a black box recorder on a plane, where when the plane crashes, and everything that happened up to the point of the crash is recorded. So they’re not looking at log files per se to try and figure out what happened. They’re just looking at these code traces."

Future plans include Zend APIs that will hook WebSmart PHP into Zend Server for IBM I. These would let customers take advantage of the code-tracing capability while using their favorite IDE.

More information about this expanded partnership can be found here.

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