Eclipse opens doors to PHP crowd

The Eclipse PHP Development Tools project, which invites millions of Web scripters to the integrated development environment, incites changes for Zend Technologies.

The Eclipse Foundation on Tuesday released Eclipse PHP Development Tools 1.0, software that it hopes will open Eclipse up to the millions of PHP Web developers.

Eclipse has become a widely used integrated development environment for Java programmers. But scripting, or dynamic, languages like PHP have become increasingly popular, particularly for the front-end development. Now people trained in Eclipse can write PHP applications and get access to about 1,400 plug-ins.

The move is significant for Zend Technologies, a company that sells development tools for PHP. Much like Eclipse commoditized Borland's Java tools business, the Eclipse PHP Development Tools product could potentially threaten Zend's tools business, Mark de Visser, Zend's chief marketing officer, send in an interview last week.

But Zend has chosen to participate in the project and will build commercial tools on top of the Eclipse PHP Development Tools software. It plans to introduce the commercial tools in the first quarter of next year.

Why? It's better to disrupt your own business than have someone else do it to, he says. The tools project also makes PHP--already used by 4.5 million people--potentially more appealing to programmers looking for a better tool or already familiar with Eclipse. About 50 percent of PHP developers already use Java, he said.

The Eclipse tools, combined with the Zend Platform, which acts much like an application server, Zend and other vendors are making PHP more corporate-friendly, de Visser said.

"We look at (Microsoft's) .Net as a good example. We're very comfortable mimicking (that) and knowing that companies want an alternative because they don't want to buy the whole Microsoft stack."

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