PHP tools come to the UK

As PHP becomes the world's leading Web scripting language, tools to use it gain a UK distributor

PHP, a server-side scripting language that supports applications in Web pages, is now the leading Web scripting language, according to Wick Hill. The company is now distributing commercial tools from Zend for UK developers working with the language.

"In the next six months, we will see a recognition of how much critical corporate IT is based on PHP," said Ian Kilpatrick, managing director of the Wick Hill Group. "It is absolutely endemic."

Visible to end users in Web pages which end in the .php extension, PHP started life as an extension to the Perl script language, called Personal Home Page. It has gained functions and is now used on many commercial sites.

"Around 65 percent of the servers on the Web use Apache, and 46-50 percent of those use PHP," said Kilpatrick. "PHP has overtaken Microsoft's ASP as the development environment of choice."

Zend specialises in tools for companies using PHP in business, starting with the Zend Studio development environment. Although PHP itself is open-source, Zend's tools are commercial and they allow users to build commercial products.

Zend Encoder, the company's next product, distributes PHP applications without revealing the source code. This was followed up by Zend Accelerator, a product which makes deployed PHP code work four times as fast. "This is significant, because companies with big server farms can use Accelerator to free up servers to redeploy elsewhere," said Kilpatrick. "Cutting down the number of servers you need for PHP applications saves rack space and also cuts down the time spent looking after those servers."

Wick Hill is the first distributor in Europe for Zend, which has previously relied on sales over the Web. However, while this worked for Zend Studio (costing £135 in the UK) it did not work for the other products, which cost more than £1,200. "When people buy something for more than $1,000 (£640), they want to ask questions," said Amnon Drori, director of worldwide sales for Zend.

Earlier this year, security weaknesses were found in PHP, but these are fixed, said Drori. Future developments from Zend will include a forthcoming product that improves distribution of PHP applications. Zend Studio version 3, due next year will run PHP scripts embedded.

Meanwhile, PHP 5 is coming early in 2003. "This will be a tremendous change," said Drori.

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