The Zend Framework is a simple, straightforward, open-source software framework for PHP 5 designed to eliminate the tedious details of coding and let you focus on the big picture. Its strength is in its highly-modular MVC design, making your code more reusable and easier to maintain.
Requirements for Zend framework
Zend Framework requires PHP 5.2.4 or later since version 1.7.0. Previous versions required PHP 5.1.4 or later, although the ZF Programmer's Reference Guide strongly recommended PHP 5.2.3 or later for security and performance improvements included in these versions of PHP. Zend Framework 2.0 will require PHP 5.3.3 or later. PHPUnit 3.0 or later is required to run the unit tests shipped with Zend Framework. Many components also require PHP extensions.
Building and running Zend Framework applications
Zend Framework applications can run on any PHP stack that fulfills the technical requirements.
Zend Technologies provides a PHP stack, Zend Server (or Zend Server Community Edition), which is advertised to be optimized for running Zend Framework applications. Zend Server includes Zend Framework in its installers, along with PHP and all required extensions. According to Zend Technologies, Zend Server provides improved performance for PHP and especially Zend Framework applications through opcode acceleration and several caching capabilities, and includes application monitoring and diagnostics facilities.
Zend Studio is an IDE that includes features specifically to integrate with Zend Framework. It provides an MVC view, MVC code generation based on Zend_Tool (a component of the Zend Framework), a code formatter, code completion, parameter assist, and more.
Zend Studio is not free software, whereas the Zend Framework and Zend Server Community Edition are free.
Zend Server is compatible with common debugging tools such as Xdebug.
Other developers may want to use a different PHP stack and another IDE such as Eclipse PDT which works well together with Zend Server. A preconfigured, free version of Eclipse PDT with Zend Debug is available on the Zend web site.