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Manuel Lemos manuellemos. It is a follow-up of Delphi for PHP 1. Since I have already reviewed the first Delphi for PHP release in , this review will focus only on the changes. Delphi for PHP is a great PHP IDE that is well worth trying, but I have seen many comments about it in PHP forums and mailing lists that reflect several misconceptions about the program that seem to come from people that really have not given it a chance.
So, I thought it would be useful to start by clarifying what is Delphi for PHP, as well what it isn't. CodeGear used to be a division of Borland. Early this CodeGear was sold to Embarcadero Technologies, well known for its visual database design tools. PHP add-on. Despite the use of name Delphi, the only common feature between Delphi for Windows and Delphi for PHP is the support for creating user interfaces using a visual editor based on dragging and dropping components.
Besides the visual user interface creation support, everything else is different. Delphi for Windows is for creating Windows application executable programs written in Object Pascal language. Delphi for PHP was not meant for creating desktop application executables, although that would be possible using separate compiler tools like RoadSend PHP compiler.
Another misconception that I read about Delphi for PHP is the claim that you are required to use the visual user interface editor to create PHP applications, as well that it makes you use "dirty code" generated by the program. This is not true. If you do not want to benefit from visual editing support, you can. If you want to use the visual editing support, Delphi for PHP will generate skeletons of classes of PHP objects to configure each of your Web application user interface elements.
You can even change or replace the code of those classes if you want. There is nothing "dirty" about the generated classes. They are quite simple, easy to understand, and you can customize them for your needs. You only need to use the VCL framework in your applications if you use the visual editor to define your application pages user interface. After these clarifications, lets move on to the new features of Delphi for PHP 2. Talking about Zend Framework, one of the new features is precisely the support to some classes of the Zend Framework.
Currently it supports Zend Framework authentication and access control components. Supporting these third party libraries seems to be a step in the right direction for Delphi for PHP. The truth is that in PHP there is no dominant framework or class library.
Unlike developers that use other languages, PHP developers use a wide range of class libraries, different coding styles, different Web development methodologies. That is part of the reason why PHP is so popular. This situation makes it hard for developer tool vendors to embrace the community as a whole.
To solve this problem, instead of pushing their own VCL components, Delphi for PHP developers decided to embrace other class libraries too, targeting the needs of many more PHP developers.
But CodeGear does not have to do that. Before moving on to the enhancements made to the IDE itself, let me tell you about an unexpected feature. Actually it is not really a feature of Delphi for PHP 2, but rather something the benefits a kind of audience that was not being targeted by this IDE. Let me explain. They told me it was not viable for them because the market for such platforms is not yet big enough. I only use Linux for as my desktop, PHP development and production platforms.
I was actually considering to develop components to allow visual editing of PHP generated forms with a very popular class that I have been developing since The good news is that it is now possible to run Delphi for PHP on those platforms using the latest version of Wine.
For those not familiar with Wine, it is a program that loads Windows executable programs. More information may be obtained in Wine home page: It worked wonders.
It would be interesting if anybody could post comments on whether they could run Delphi for PHP with Wine under any of such operating systems.
So all is much simpler and viable now. In practice the IDE runs perfectly but some transparent controls do not render correctly. Unfortunately Apache relies on Windows socket API functions that do not seem to be working under current Wine versions. However, I do not know if the features that need to be fixed to run Delphi for PHP 2 properly are being addressed by the Wine sub-projects approved for Google Summer of Code That would help CodeGear target a wider market of PHP developers at a fraction of the cost that it would take them to develop Delphi for PHP native versions for those platforms.
If any of these is your mother language, you will appreciate this enhancement. Then those tags are expanded to more complex HTML defined by templates. Code insight is a set of features that help the developer write error free code in a faster manner. It includes PHP context sensitive code completion. It also provides hints about what each of the suggested code completion alternative function calls or parameters do, so the developer pick the right suggestion for what he intends to do.
Another cool feature is the error insight. Any syntax errors found are displayed in real-time on the structure window pane. Code in error appears underlined like word processing programs denote words with spelling mistakes. It can save developers a lot of time trying to run code with silly syntax errors. As in the previous version, Delphi for PHP 2 comes with extensive debugging support. One of the enhancements of Delphi for PHP 2 is that it can also profile your script, so you can have a good idea what code it is taking more time to run.
Then you can focus your optimization efforts to speedup that code. All these features are great but there is still room for improvement that should be addressed in future versions. One thing that I missed in this version is the integration with common version control systems like CVS or SubVersion.
Version control systems are mandatory when you work in a team, but even when you work alone they are very useful, so you can keep track of the changes you do on your project files. It is not a serious deficiency because it could be solved using control version tools separately. Actually that is what I do when using any other IDE. But some people would find version control more pleasant if the IDE would provide integrated support to let you do things like browse and checkout files in the project repository, as well visually present the changes you made before you commit them back to the repository.
Another thing, that would be interesting to have is memory usage profiling. This is something that can be very useful for those running PHP on very busy sites.
There is a great debate on whether PHP and other languages can scale up to enterprise level needs. Scalability is not a matter of language, but rather of application architecture.
However, one details that really matters in busy sites is the cost of scalability. Each simultaneous user access that an application may handle takes a given amount of RAM. If the RAM is exhausted in one server, the application needs more servers to handle the load without slowing down too much. If one PHP application has scripts that take large amounts of memory, that makes the cost of scalability go up because the application would need more servers.
Therefore it is important to monitor and limit the use of memory of PHP scripts. This may require finding which parts of the scripts are making them take so much memory, so their code can be eventually rewritten to avoid the problem and reducing the memory usage. An IDE with good memory usage profiling support can be very useful to achieve this task.
That would be a great feature for future Delphi for PHP 2. If you were already using it version 1, this version is well worth the upgrade. If you were not using Delphi for PHP because you did not know it before, or because of the misconceptions mentioned in the beginning of this review, you may want to give it a better look, as it provides many features that can significantly enhance your PHP development productivity.
If you were not considering using Delphi for PHP 2 because you were not aware that it can now run on Linux or Mac OS X, now you may want to reconsider, as the latest versions of Wine finally made that possible.
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