Microsoft Interoperability at Zend PHP Conference 2009

ZendCon 2009 just wrapped up on Thursday. It was held at the San Jose McEnery conference center from the 19-22 October 2009. The conference is a great opportunity to catch up on PHP development and deployment. There are intensive tutorials and crash courses where developers can get up to speed quickly and get certified. An Un-Conference runs alongside the main sessions in an informal setting and is mostly presented by the attendees themselves. An exhibit hall has  a few partners on display including our  Microsoft Website Spark team. There was something for those new to the technology, and plenty to chew on for experts, with plenty of opportunities to network and get to know one another.

Zend Conference 2009 ZendCon is put together by Zend Technologies Inc. They are also is known as ‘the PHP Company’ in the industry. The founders, Andi Gutmans (CEO) and Zeev Suraski (CTO) are key contributors to PHP and the creators of the core PHP scripting engine, the Zend Engine as well as the Zend Framework. The company provides important leadership for PHP and other open source communities, and plays a central role in the explosive growth of PHP.The conference also serves as an opportunity for the rest of the contributor community  to have a real-world venue to connect, which is an important thing in itself as they usually interact virtually. You get to hear about some of the key developments and trends right from the source and not just as the sessions.

Microsoft has been participating in ZendCon since 2006 and so we weren’t exactly strangers to this community. At this conference however we had some key information that we wanted to share with the community. These projects can be found on our  Interoperability Bridges page and are also on this blog. Featuring …PHP Installed

PHP on Windows has come a long way on Windows! At first it was a framework you had to compile from source and run on a web server, it is now installable from many popular ftp/websites like You can easily get PHP downloaded  along with the rest of your favorite apps and tools on your web development stack  by using the Microsoft Web Platform Installer. It’s tiny and free! The install for PHP happens in minutes once you pull it down from the web. More and more applications that are frequently being adopted can be found on the Windows Web App Gallery. For example applications such as  Drupal, a popular Content Management System and WordPress, a popular Blog engine are available on there.

Getting PHP on Windows easily installed for development and deployment was one of the most frequently asked question by most PHP developers and administrators I have talked to. Many are shocked when they first download the installer and in a few check boxes have a fully configured PHP environment and application running. You can also modify and create custom deployments of your applications fairly easily and have the same environment running in your staging and production environments in a few mouse clicks too.

Developing on the Cloud PanelThe keynotes are a big draw at the event …  Andi Gutmans in his kickoff and state of the union keynote, ‘PHP at the Heart of Mainstream IT’, spent some time on the partnership with Microsoft. You can read a little more about what was said on  Information Week and Visual Studio Magazine. We were also on a special Keynote Panel, Developing on the Cloud. Vijay Rajagopalan, Principal Architect on the team and a person who is very instrumental in developing some of the technical bridges mentioned in this post participated on behalf of Microsoft. He was joined by a few other cloud players including Wil Sinclair (Zend), Doug Tidwell (IBM), Thorsten von Eicken (RightScale) and Dave Nielsen (CloudCamp). Stephen O'Grady (RedMonk) was the moderator. Most of the panels participants are from the Simple Cloud effort. The questions were mostly taken from the #ZendCon Twitterstream in real-time and that gave a bit of a dynamic feel to the panel and allowed observers to provide live and, most of the time, candid commentary. There was a range of discussion from developer tools and frameworks, to management and security, and to more abstract discussions about the offerings from different vendors in the industry.

Some notable sessions that covered Microsoft and Interoperability topics,

  • Josh Holmes, a Microsoft Architect Evangelist based in Michigan, presented ‘What’s new in PHP on Windows’. He covered some of improvements on various aspects of running PHP on Windows.

  • Kevin Leneway, a Microsoft Audience Marketing Manager from Redmond presented an Un-Conference session titled ‘Forget the Hype: Real-World Experiences Running PHP Frameworks in the Cloud’. An informal discussion with developers on what is works and doesn’t and the state of the space.

  • Will Sinclair, from the panel above, gave a session ‘PHP and Platform Independence’ in which he describes the Simple Cloud API which we contributed to and how it abstracts out and gives a common interface for making applications interoperable across cloud vendors.

  • Aaron Wormus, had an interesting and well attended session on ‘Mastering Open XML Documents with PHP’ where he talked about PHPExcel and the tricks on how to use it to create, read  and manipulate powerful documents programmatically.

  • Rob Richards, session on ‘Digital Identity: OpenID and Information Cards’ covered authentication benefits and considerations on implementing the two methods.

Neat thing about this community of web experts, they share their slides online! You can find them at the ZendCon 2009 and Unconference event page.

There was a lot to learn! I had a very pleasant experience at the conference and I’m very glad that I attended. I even bumped into some old friends and made many new ones too. I would like to thank all the folks at Zend Technologies & S+S media  for putting the conference together and to the PHP community for the great discussion on technology, the web, PHP and all sorts of geekdom …  y’all rulz!

Jas Sandhu
Senior Technical Evangelist, Interop Vendor Alliance Manager, Interoperability Strategy Team
Twitter@jassand, FriendFeed@jassand

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