Monday, July 27, 2009

Zend Platform for Development too?

Folks in the i5 community love to know if software companies eat their own dog food. The unequivocal answer to that question for me is a hearty and resounding YES!!!

I can’t tell you the number of times I have written a piece of code that looks perfectly fine but still refuses to execute. Then I find the missing semicolon or non-aligned curly brace. Jumping between COBOL, RPG, PHP and CL I am forever leaving out the extra equal sign in my comparison operators! I have given up blaming the compiler years ago, although I did find a bug in a beta CL API last year.

So I’m tooling along testing a web services Proof of Concept for a prospective customer and I can’t seem to see what the issue is the hunk of code. One of our outstanding PS guys tossed it together in less than an hour on his Linux box and I needed to get it running on the i5. Once I updated the version of Zend Framework on the development LPAR(check in to DevZone for more details) I started to get some really meaningful error messages. I knocked through a couple of simple configuration issues and was off the to the races! What I like most about Zend Platform is the fact that I do not need to go chasing through logs to get the important information and help me along the way. With Zend Platform I have a browser based interface that I an leave up and toggle to while testing my PHP code. A quick F5 to refresh the page and I see the most recent error. No digging, no tailing and no SSH to find the file that should contain the error. This feature of Zend Platform is referred to as Platform Intelligence.

Platform Intelligence provides a huge advantage when doing development. I wouldn’t work without it now. But for production applications it comes in handy too. It basically acts like the QSYSOPR message queue for your PHP applications. So while users are cranking away on your WEB applications, Platform is collecting information about different errors and warnings on problems with PHP code through poor performing database calls. The information stays around for as long as you need it. Some shops I work with check the Zend Platform GUI Interface once or twice a day while other shops are wired into the errors via the email notification feature.

The i5 LPAR I maintain is used by several folks around the world for presentations and such. I usually use the Platform interface while I am developing code for presentations and I also check now and then to see what the other SE’s might be doing. With very little effort I can see the issues and help them out. This process can be interesting as many of these folks speak a variety of languages.

Developing applications these days is all about productivity. So whatever you have in your tool bag that can increase your productivity makes you a more valuable resource. At the end of the day, that’s a good chunk of what matters!