I'm new to Web Development and PHP - How do I get started?
What is PHP?PHP is a fully functional web scripting language used to build dynamic web pages. PHP is developed in the Open Source community by hundreds of developers form around the world. Early community members include Zend’s CEO Andi Gutmans and CTO Zeev Suraski, who wrote the “Zend Engine” which is still a major component of the PHP Parser (interpreter equivalent of a compiler). The work done by Andi, Zeev and all the PHP community members has culminated into PHP becoming the leading language for Internet applications representing well over 35% of all internet websites and 6 of the top 10 most visited web sites.
After an exhaustive search for a rapid web development technology to complement their WebSphere product line for IBM i, IBM partnered with Zend Technologies to bring PHP to the platform. Now 4 years into the partnership IBM and Zend continue to provide a state-of-the-art solution for quickly and easily developing web content for IBM i to the steady migrating stream of Net.Data, RPG and COBOL developers.
Where does RPG fit into all this?RPG is a business language that is most popularly used on IBM i. Many applications and countless programs have been developed for business purposes such as shipping, order entry and accounting functions. Many organizations are significantly invested in RPG and want to leverage their investments as they move applications from the 5250 (green screen) interface to the browser or Internet via the World Wide Web. PHP makes it easy for these businesses to leverage that investment through capabilities such as the PHP Toolkit for IBM i which allows RPG applications to be fully leveraged by providing back end business logic to interactive web applications.
What can I do with PHP?There are many great examples of PHP applications being developed and deployed on the IBM i. From applications that can access data and applications via a browser, to developing web-based front-ends that leverage RPG business logic or completely web-enabling entire ERP systems, PHP’s ease of use and enterprise capabilities combined with the power of IBM i has been the ideal choice for modernization. Here are just a few examples:
- Data Inquiry applications enabling DB2 data via the web
- A bar code scanning solution that utilizes PHP on both a hand-held scanner and System I to track inventory in real-time
- PHP front-ends leveraging the RPG business logic enabling employees to access the payroll application
- A supplier portal that automates the entire RFQ, quote, purchase orders, receiving, inventory management and payment process
- Complete ERP system modernized with PHP replacing all the old 5250 green screens with Web interfaces, at a fraction of the cost, time frame, and pain of a full-scale ERP migration
What does it take and what do I do first?Many organizations are turning to PHP for enterprise development thanks to its low cost and significant community contributions. To take full advantage of PHP for enterprise web development you will need to learn some HTML and Javascipt along along with the basics of PHP. Below are some steps, references and helpful links to help you on your journey
- The IBM i Programmer's Guide to PHP:A Book that comprehensively addresses PHP and how it can, and should, be deployed on the IBM i. Examines how to transfer skills from a green screen environment to the Web and become intimately familiar with PHP
- PHP.net: The PHP Community's site - Provides general PHP "getting started" tips and information
- PHP courses for RPG programmers:A curriculum specifically focused on enabling RPG programmers to quickly become proficient with PHP and developing web applications.
- Getting started webinar:A great place to get introduced to what PHP can do on IBM i is the “Getting Started with PHP on IBM i” webcast recording.
Participate, Ask, Learn more
- Zend PHP forums for IBM i: The Zend PHP Forum for IBM i is a great place to go for tips/tricks or solutions other PHPers on IBM i are sharing
- Web400: list at midrange.com where discussions of iSeries/AS400 webservers, CGI programming and everything Web for the IBM i takes place
- Zend Solutions for IBM i:Learn about Zend Solutions for IBM i -- helping you at every stage of the application lifecycle