Web applications have been around since the early 2000s, and with the development and continued study of technologies like AJAX, the boundary between a web scripting and application programming have become increasingly blurred. However, one of the major areas still lacking the ability to code in pure PHP is the mobile handset world. That's all about to change, though!
For anyone who prefers to code in PHP rather than Java, or for the coder who would prefer not to learn a brand new language for a simple application, PHP is set to be released in an evironment capable of running on Google's Android-driven mobile phones. The project, dubbed PHP for Android (PFA), claims to make PHP development on Andorid "not only possible but also feasible providing tools and documentation." The project is planned to be an open-source collaborative program and the main sponsor behind it is open-source specialist IronTec.
The project announced that it had manipulated and amended the Scripting Layer for Android (SL4A) to work with PHP in such a way that existing PHP developers can easily transfer their skills to Android application development.
Currently in Release Candidate 2 version, PFA provides a number of PHP classes and examples which can be used by developers. We're going to be investigating this in the near future, and hopefully can soon release fully integrated Android applications for our bespoke content management system.
It's not all good news though - sceptics fear that providing power such as this to PHP developers will flood the Google Market with too many superfluous apps and another major concern at the moment is the poor support for object-oritented programming. As with any Release Candidate software, there are still bugs and security concerns, and one of the current major flaws is the lack of portability. Developers currently have now easy way of distributing their PHP application as an Android Package (essentially the installable file for Android devices).
However, the concept is great and definitely something to watch out for in the future.
Check out www.phpforandroid.net for more information and discussion about the innovative concept.