Saturday, December 22, 2007

When the Eclipse PDT project went 1.0 I started experimenting with using it as a PHP development environment and I think I'm ready to commit to it as my standard development environment.

The other piece of the equation is moving to a local php/mysql setup. I'm used to having a development linux box and stuck with that for a while to avoid subtle issues moving work from my local mac to a live linux server. I always custom compile my php on our live servers mostly to optimize them for our projects, especially to fully support Typo3's imaging abilities but I've found it awkward to compile php on Mac OS X. There are several all-in-one Apache/PHP/MySql installers for Mac but I never really liked how they were set up.

Recently I had been looking into the Zend Core package for installing PHP behind IIS with FastCGI and noticed they have a Mac version too. Unlike MAMP and XAMPP, Zend Core is really designed for production use and the MySql install is optional. I tried it out and found it much more like how I like to set up servers and worked fine with my standard MySql install. Even better it comes setup with Zend debugger and was easy to integrate into PDT's debugging mode.

There were two things I needed to do to get it fully operational. First was to run the update script right after install. This is a command line script at /usr/local/Zend/Core/setup/setup. Before I did that I had a problem with the mail function throwing an undefined function error. The second change I did was change it to run apache under my default name and group on OS X so it would be easy to use the htdocs folder as my PDT projects folder.

I've had no trouble developing within complicated apps like Typo3 and Drupal in this setup and am really happy with it. I see people recommend MAMP and XAMPP all the time for Mac PHP developers and I'm surprised I don't see Zend Core come up more.

Friday, December 07, 2007

Yahoo and the Front End Developer.

I've been a big fan of Yahoo's developer site ( Beyond their excellent javascript library, they also have lots of good video content ranging from deep javascript tips to advice on developing for screen readers.

It's really interesting to see how important front end technologies have become again. I started out as a front end developer in the 90s. I was coming from a print background and my skills with Photoshop were more important than coding in a time when sites tended to be static html pages. As the technology improved and site became more sophisticated I began doing more and more backend coding, first with php then later with java and .NET.

In the last couple of years, Ajax and Flash have brought the frontend back into the spotlight. Yahoo dev posted a blog entry about how frontend development has become complicated enough and important enough that they have developed a whole large-scale training process to make sure they have the talent they need. I find it really interesting both because I really like front end development and because it reflects the growing importance of user experience and interface design.