OSS Developers: Project Zero Aims for Next-Gen Web Applications

by Ostatic Staff - Apr. 29, 2008

By Nate D'Amico

For all those Eclipse lovers out there, IBM has another free toy for you to download and experiment with. The technology is geared towards web application development, and is dubbed Project Zero. With Project Zero, IBM hopes to entice Java, PHP, and Groovy developers to use its platform for creating and deploying next generation web applications. Among several interesting aspects of Project Zero, developers are encouraged to compile PHP into Java classes to have it run in the same Java Virtual Machine (JVM) as the rest of Project Zero's Java code. The project is leveraging community participation in several ways that open sourcers will recognize.

Overall, Project Zero is very quick to set up and begin working with. For interested developers, I recommend starting with downloading and playing around with the command line interface. From there, you can jump right in and start to play around with the handy web-based IDE, which, of course, is a Project Zero package itself.

The IDE is very impressive for a web application. It allows you to create, export and delete projects, as well as stop and start them. The IDE also features a file editor will allows you to create and edit files complete with Undo/Redo functionality and the ability to jump to specific line numbers.

IBM still has to increase its PHP support. The Project Zero team admits that it is focusing on the core components of PHP, but will continue to add support for more outlying functions as the project progresses. IBM says most existing PHP projects will work on Project Zero without too many changes, but are really gearing this for development of new applications.

This was pretty evident in my test involving installing WordPress. I was able to create and setup my project, but during the third step of the WordPress installation, I received a fatal PHP error that arose through Project Zero not supporting one of PHP's out-of-box functions: array_reduce.

Here’s a hint for any developers who may be playing around and having trouble with getting MySQL to work with PHP: Try this link. You’ll be taken through the setup of phpBB. This did the trick for me.

IBM will give no timeline for when more commercial offerings related to Project Zero will be available, but keep an eye out for them. They say that they are very interested in "community driven commercial development." The whole orientation of Project Zero is similar to open source development methodologies. We’ll see how the project progresses, and what market opportunities may present themselves.