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Sunday, June 15, 2008

Why automart using PHP with Oracle to handle their giant site

Open Source Opens Options

"Oracle is committed to its leading Java and service-oriented architecture development environment, Oracle JDeveloper. At the same time, we are also committed to offering developers productivity with choice," says Omar Tazi, Oracle's chief open source evangelist. "For developers who choose to use Eclipse, Oracle is committed to delivering the same productivity that customers using Oracle JDeveloper experience." That's one of the reasons Oracle joined the Eclipse Foundation as a strategic developer and board member, Tazi explains.

Oracle contributes developers and leadership to three projects at Eclipse: the Dali JPA Tools Project (Project Dali), which concerns tools for Java Persistence API-style object-relational mapping; the JavaServer Faces Tooling Project, which involves simplifying development and deployment of JSF applications; and the BPEL Project, which focuses on adding comprehensive support to Eclipse for key BPEL 2.0 processes. Most recently, Tazi observes, Oracle donated its Oracle TopLink source code and test cases to the open source community and has proposed an Eclipse project (called Eclipse Persistence Platform, or EclipseLink) to deliver a comprehensive persistence platform.

But Eclipse is just the beginning of Oracle's commitment to open source technologies. Open source scripting languages are becoming popular tools for Oracle developers. "Oracle customers find PHP's ease of development very attractive. Its mature and flexible technology makes Web application development faster and cheaper," says Tazi.

Developers can take advantage of Zend Core for Oracle, a free, prebuilt PHP stack that removes the hassle of building and configuring PHP.

"Zend Core for Oracle bundles all the necessary software to connect to an existing database," Tazi says. "Combined, the PHP-Oracle technologies allow Web 2.0 applications to be highly scalable and manageable."

The online automobile sales site puts the Zend platform to work. The site manages about 1.4 million vehicle listings, and each day it updates more than half a million records, so its applications and database must offer high availability and high performance.'s developers use PHP in the Zend stack for nine Web servers that connect to their Oracle database.

Christine Nemeth-Cooke, IT manager at, says that one of the team's greatest challenges is to turn around greater volumes of data from car dealers in shorter amounts of time. "One of the company's business demands is to sign up dealers every day, so the challenge for us is to get the data online faster," she says. "Processing all that data each day is a big challenge."

The high volume of data and faster turnaround times make the technology's reliability and ease of use for developers especially important. Nemeth-Cooke says, "We chose the Oracle-PHP combination for our Web application because of the reliability and high availability we can establish with Oracle and the clear, simple learning curve for programmers to be productive with PHP coding."

In addition, uses PHP to process the images of automobiles that the company posts on its site. "We use PHP scripts that process the images, whether we grab them from another site or they're dropped in from an FTP server. PHP is great for moving stuff around on the operating system as well as writing records into the database," says Nemeth-Cooke.

For the company's database development, the team relies on PL/SQL and Oracle SQL Developer. "We use PL/SQL scripts to run our database feeds, reports, and daily maintenance routines," says Dan Gaertner,'s database manager.

"The way our Web site is set up, we use a class called ADOdb that plugs into Oracle," says Peter Bassi, Web development manager at "It's a class written in PHP, and it takes care of the communications between our Web applications and the database. Zend [Core for Oracle] has everything we need and more. It allows us to run queries and develop code and helps us with debugging."

A Diverse Landscape

As these companies demonstrate, developers have a diverse tools landscape to work in today, and that landscape promises only to become richer tomorrow.

"Developers have always had interesting jobs in IT, and I only see that getting more interesting and more challenging," says Gartner's Phifer. "These tools will expand and benefit the developer community, because they allow developers to focus on the high-value things that they can do—that only they can do—while meeting the needs of the organization faster than they've ever been able to before."

Alan Joch ( is a technology writer based in New England who specializes in enterprise, Web, and high-performance-computing applications.

With over 1.3 million vehicles for sale,™ is the largest dealer exclusive automotive website featuring new, used and certified pre-owned car listings. By capturing the power of 8 million monthly Auto Mart Magazines and a dominating paid search marketing effort, drives phone, website, email and cutting edge instant messaging leads to over 15,000 dealers nationwide. is a subsidiary of Cox Auto Trader, a division of Cox Enterprises, Inc..
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