Today saw the much anticipated release of the first production release of the Zend Framework. I’ve been following the project keenly since last Summer, so congratulations to the developers, contributors and the ever omniscient Zenders for their hard work to date! ;)

The Zend Framework has evolved into a loosely coupled, extremely flexible and easy to modify framework. Built across months of debate, hard work and the occasional emotional tirade (as I’ve been guilty of recently ;) ) the 1.0.0 release now carries a stable API and an impressive array of features. Personally, I’m impressed on the insistence of obtaining a stable API by a fixed date at the cost of some completion concerns. It really is essential these days that adopters of a new technology are given the stability they need to get things done effectively now – not months down the line. I know from migrating several applications across 0.6, 0.7 to 0.9 that the lack of stability is a costly issue, much more costly than a few missing or incomplete features one can workaround for the moment.

I know most people will shout MVC a dozen times before collapsing into a state of ecstatic delirium, but there is a lot more to the Zend Framework than MVC. The MVC components are absolutely essential, but are not the sum total of the Framework.

Over the months I’ve come to appreciate the fixation on web services. Easy integration with web services is hugely important these days – from the simplicity of agregating RSS/Atom feeds to the complexity of building your own RESTful service. The Zend Framework is all geared up on web service steroids with support for RSS/Atom feeds, Google, StrikeIron (which is quite cool), Yahoo, Flickr, and the usual suspects. Not to mention the more general support offered by Zend_Rest and Zend_XmlRpc.

My other favourites are the i18n support offered by Zend_Locale, Zend_Date and Zend_Translate. For those who will use Zend_Validate classes, many of the character string validators attempt to use a Unicode mode so you’re not tied to the usual ASCII range. These components make it very easy to internationalise your application, support multibyte languages, and minimise the mountain of work a typical PHP application needs to go international correctly. Zend_Uri even has support for validating a number of Unicode IRIs (internationalised resource identifiers). Hopefully support for this improves over time given how many domain names are availing of IRI support – especially now that many of the popular browsers (incl. IE7) have built in the IDNA standard.

Finally, the Zend Framework website has seen a few changes. You can read the current future roadmap over at http://framework.zend.com/whyzf/future/. It’s interesting to see both OpenID (and to a lesser extent Vista’s CardSpace) mentioned along with support for the YAML format. I’ve worked with both extensively and have related proposals (Dmitry Stogov is leading the OpenID proposal, me the related Yadis Protocol one, as well as a Zend_Yaml proposal) on the ZF Developer’s Wiki. OpenID is a very interesting authentication service so spare the proposals a read if you have a chance ;) .

On a last unrelated note:
if you’ve read or intend reading my Acceptance Testing with PHPUnit/Selenium article on Devzone you should be aware that Sebastion Bergmann just announced the release of PHPUnit 3.1.0 which replaces the requirement for PEAR’s Testing_Selenium with an internal implementation. I’ll be testing later on to see if an article addendum is warranted.