Podcast on Running PHP on Windows

Peter Laudati & Dmitry Lyalin host the edu-training Connected Show developer podcast on cloud computing and interoperability. I met Peter in Chicago during Tek-X and we along with Don and Wade recorded a podcast on evolution of PHP on the Windows Platform. We talked about the improvements made to Windows in order to support PHP, including: Fast CGI, WinCache, PHP 5.3, the Web PI, and the SQL Server driver for PHP. Check out episode #31, “PHP On Windows” on Connected Show. Interview starts at 24:31.


If you like what you hear, check out previous episodes of the Connected Show at www.connectedshow.com.  You can subscribe on iTunes or Zune.  Peter and Dmitry publish new episodes approximately every two weeks!


Work items collected from Tek-X

Last week I was in Chicago in the company of very passionate and smart PHP programmers at Tek-X. I got to meet some well-known members of PHP community and also fellow Microsoft employees who have been working on improving PHP experience of Windows. I would admit that meeting people was the best part of Tek-X for me. Sessions were great too and I learnt a great deal from them. I returned to Seattle more knowledgeable and passionate for PHP then ever. One of the things I wanted to get from Tek-X was a list of problems PHP users face on Windows so that we can work on solving them. Below is the list of work items I collected during informal discussions, questions during my talk and from other sessions.
1.       PHP 5.3 in WebPI
Today, Web Platform Installer (WebPI) only offers latest version of PHP 5.2. Folks want us to offer PHP 5.3 through WebPI. We receivedthis request during web developer summit and work for this is already in progress.
2.       PECL extensions in WebPI
There are few PECL extensions which are very popular (e.g. XDebug, uploadprogress) and people want us make them available in WebPI.
3.       WebPI to download PHP from windows.php.net
During my WebPI demo, Derick Rethans pointed out that we are downloading PHP from http://sourceforge and not http://windows.php.net. We used to install PHP from windows.php.net but moved recently to sourceforge when windows.php.net went down for maintenance. We will move back to windows.php.net once it has mirrors set.
4.       SQL driver for PHP extension on PECL
PHP community is very happy with the fact that WinCache source code is in PECL repository and documentation is exclusively available on php.net. They want SQL driver for PHP extension to move from codeplex to PECL. Even better will be moving related documentation from http://www.microsoft.com to http://www.php.net as well.
5.       PHP frameworks in WebPI
During my talk, people asked if there are any plans to add popular PHP frameworks like CakePHP and Zend Framework in WebPI. If a PHP application code already has framework code included, WebPI will just copy that as part of application install. Right now there are no plans to offer standalone PHP frameworks from WebPI. I will be discussing with the product team and see if this makes sense for us.
6.       Simplify setting up of PHP build environment on Windows
Many at Tek-X made fun of the fact that compiling PHP on Windows is incredibly hard. I have published a script (winbuild.bat) which makes this very easy. I will continue to produce documentation/scripts related to this unless building PHP on Windows is seen as a simple task.
7.       CHM file for PHP documentation script
Gennady told me that script which pulls in php.net documentation and creates a CHM file is broken and need some fixes. He loves access to php documentation even when offline and want the script to work. I will be looking at it and try to fix it.
8.       Pre-built PECL binaries for Windows
http://pecl4win.php.net has been down for ages. Many showed frustration with the fact that pre-built PECL binaries for Windows are hard to get. Pierre has few extensions built regularly and has them available for download here. Getting binary for an extension which is not available here is as easy as sending Pierre an email. If you want to build the PECL extension yourself, you can follow the instructions here. We still need to look into pecl4win.php.net or its replacement plans.
9.       Getting operating system information from PHP is hard
Elizabeth Marie Smith, in her awesome Cross Platform PHP talk, mentioned that getting system information on Windows is hard. I will be following up on this and make fixes to PHP as needed.
10.   Debugging dependency check errors is very hard
Elizabeth Marie Smith mentioned this in her talk. I will look into this and see what can be done.
I will be following up on each of these and hopefully will close on most of these requests before Tek-2011J. If this list doesn’t capture something you need for better php on Windows experience, please leave a comment and I will add it to this list.