D4PHP is CodeGear’s first attempt at bringing visual rapid application development to PHP. To be honest my first impression was fear. Here I am, 10+ years into PHP and used to developing raw PHP in vi and Zend Studio, with a couple of forays into Eclipse, staring at a PHP RAD tool without the first clue where to begin.
At first glance, it looks like a familiar IDE environment and my first thought was to File / Open, open a .php and use it as an editor. But no, if I’m going to use it I should use it the way it was meant to be.
"Hello world" was pretty straight forward, but going beyond that left me pretty bewildered, not sure what was going on underneath, nor how it was supposed to plug together. VCLs (Visual Component Library) exist to "simplify" the building of applications, so I thought I would follow the build-a-component guide and turn my preg_find recursive directory iterator/filter/sorter into a VCL. I think I succeeded (it "compiles" ok) but I don’t know how to test it!
Make no mistake – D4PHP is a mindshift for traditional PHP developers like myself.
Step back from the POST handlers and sequential logic we are used to and prepare to look at application components that seem to have a life of their own. I have to confess that being a simple procedural kind of guy that thinks OO is mostly hype, D4PHP is a huge concept for me to grapple with. But I think I might just enjoy it.