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Zend seeks to broaden PHP appeal

The PHP toolmaker signs on new partners with an Eclipse plug-in and a way to build add-ons for its own Zend Studio.

Zend Technologies on Monday expanded its partner network in an effort to broaden the appeal of its PHP-based development tools.

The Palo Alto, Calif.-based company sells a development tool for PHP, an open-source scripting language that is very popular for building Web applications on the Internet. Through partnerships and its own development, Zend is beefing up its tools to improve PHP applications for business applications.

Zend said it has created an add-on to the Eclipse open-source development framework. The plug-in will allow software developers to use Zend's development tool with other Eclipse-based tools to write PHP-based Web applications.

For example, a developer could combine a PHP plug-in with an Eclipse-based reporting software application, called the Business Intelligence and Reporting Tool from Actuate Software, to generate business reports from Web applications, said Doron Gerstel, president and CEO of Zend.

"Due to the fact that we are using plug-ins, we can market a much richer development environment for PHP than we could do (ourselves)," Gerstel said. The Eclipse plug-in will be available under an open-source license.

In addition, Zend will publish a PHP "framework," or set of reusable PHP codes, also under an open-source license. The framework will allow third-party software companies to create add-ins that work in conjunction with Zend's flagship product, Zend Studio.

Start-up Ning, which provides tools and a hosting service for Web applications, will be one of the companies using Zend's PHP framework, Gerstel said. Version 5 of Zend Studio will be available in mid-November, he added.

Ning co-founder Marc Andreessen is on the board of Zend, which has additional operations in Ramat-Gan, Israel. Other partners include Actuate, IBM and Oracle.