Monday, March 17, 2008

Get it now: Use-at-Will Development

What did my son do when he heard Zend Framework 1.5 was out? He put on his Zend Framework T-shirt and started a dance of joy. image

Zend Framework with it's flexible use-at-will architecture shows him the way but it is up to him to tweak that vision as he sees fit. Zend Framework's use-at-will architecture has been one of the drivers behind mass adoption.

Three years ago I was touring the east coast and met with senior staff at two Fortune 10 companies. Both of them had a substantial number of PHP applications internally but something was missing. In order for them to allow PHP as a corporate standard they needed to be able to streamline the development of PHP applications. Not only did this include how to manage PHP applications in production but also how to enforce best practices throughout their developments, both internally and especially with projects which they outsourced.

On a similar note many small to medium PHP shops and new Web 2.0 companies had articulated their need for a framework in somewhat of a different way. Mainly focusing on rapid development, getting developers up to speed quickly, and building on an infrastructure which is going to evolve with the market.

I took these feedbacks and many others and came to the conclusion that we needed a new kind of "one-size-fits-all" solution. We didn't need the Java-kind which is 99% functionality, therefore leading to high-cost of development and long time-to-market. Rather, we needed to deliver only a subset of functionality which would make most of our users happy while keeping the architecture extremely flexible and allowing our users to take control and tweak the framework to their needs; the "use-at-will" architecture.

I think one of the new features which most resembles this philosophy in Zend Framework 1.5 is our Forms support. You will find that the new Forms support gives an incredible amount of functionality out-of-the-box but also allows you to tweak almost every aspect of it, to make sure it fits your project without requiring you to adapt your project to us.

In addition, recognizing the growing trend of users building composite applications and leveraging Web Services we put a big emphasis on building the eco-system of vendors around Zend Framework. For the first release we already had contributions from IBM, Google and StrikeIron. With Zend Framework 1.5 both Microsoft and Nirvanix have joined and we expect more vendors to work with us to expose their Web Services APIs.

With a weaker economy and increased pressure on IT to deliver value, companies are going to be increasingly bullish around seeing an ROI on their spending. I have no doubt that with Zend Framework, Zend Studio for Eclipse and our application server which helps manage business critical PHP applications, Java-based solutions will have a very hard time competing with the time-to-market and TCO which this PHP solution has to offer.

More reading regarding the new release can be done at devzone, via Wils' release announcement, or on a blog near you...

A big thank you to the Zend Framework community both users and contributors who have helped us get to this point. We've accomplished a lot in a relatively short amount of time.

I'd also like to thank the Zend Framework team who've worked extremely hard to make this release happen including pulling off some all nighters and all weekenders right before the release.

Thanks to Varien for donating an extra cool Web site redesign which not only looks great but will make it much easier for our users to find the information they are seeking.

And of course, thanks to anyone else who I forgot :) The people working on PHP which is the foundation for ZF, the people at Zend who've contributed, etc... (is this the Oscars? :)

Until next time. I'll leave you with a picture of Zend Framework's biggest fan: