• So, let’s start out with the basics. What exactly is Z-Ray?

    • So Z-Ray is a cool new tech that we introduced just a few months back which gives developers deep insight into all the PHP elements constructing their page, including Drupal-specific elements.
    • It’s basically a toolbar that’s displayed right in front of you in your browser. No code changes needed. You don’t have to configure anything. Just open your app in a browser and you’ll see Z-Ray at the bottom of the page!
  • How does is work? Is there a module that you have to install on your site?

    • No. It’s not a module. Without going into too much detail: Z-Ray collects info while your app is being processed on the server side, and once the request is completed, Z-Ray’s JavaScript code is injected into the response with all the collected data.
    • There are other mechanisms at work, such as Ajax support, but as a whole that’s all there is to it. It’s also the limit of my technical understanding of how it works :-)
  • So what info does Z-Ray display? What are it’s main features?
    Well. There’re so many features in Z-Ray, and I don’t think we have the time to go over them all, but to mention just a few.

    • Z-Ray gives you info on SQL queries. You’ll see a query’s bound value, the result of the query, how long the query took, and how many rows in your code are affected by the query.
      You can even see a backtrace of the query to get the larger picture on how your code was executed.
    • Z-Ray also gives you all the errors generated by PHP itself, or those created by its core functions. You can also see errors for silenced expressions. Exceptions are also displayed.
    • What do we have for Drupal devs? Z-Ray will give you a list of loaded Drupal modules with invoked actions and hooks, a list of called Drupal functions, a list of used Drupal forms on the page, and some general user info.
    • We’re especially excited about Z-Ray Live! Until now we’ve spoken about using Z-Ray in a browser, right? But what if you’re developing APIs or a mobile app? No browser there. So Z-Ray Live! is a new feature accessible via a dedicated page in the Zend Server UI, with an embedded Z-Ray.
      So as soon as this page is loaded, Z-Ray records and displays any request made to the web server, never mind where its coming from - whether from a browser, a mobile device or a web-service client.
    • One of the coolest things about Z-Ray is that you can plug in your own customized extension. Even people in Zend itself have begun developing their own extensions so its pretty viral.
      By the way, all the code for the Drupal extension is available on Github, so feel free to fork it and send us a pull request.
    • There’s integration with IDEs, session and cookie data, request info, and so much more to talk about.
  • Is Z-Ray just for development? Or should it be used in production too?

    • Z-Ray was designed to be used both in dev and prod. While in development it works on every request, in production you can manually use Z-Ray using specially created access tokens. And it also periodically saves snapshots for important URLs - like the slowest requests on your web server, most time consuming requests, and so on. And again - with no changes to your code and no real implication on end-user experience or server performance.
  • OK, if I want to give it a shot, what does the installation process look like?

    • Z-Ray’s bundled with Zend Server, so to use Z-Ray you would need to download and install Zend Server - a total no brainer. Just like installing any other PHP stack.
  • So, how do you see Z-Ray helping Drupal developers?

    • At Zend we like to talk about left-shifting. This basically means that Z-Ray helps developers hit issues very early in the development cycle and way before going to staging and production.
    • We all know that getting clarity on all the Drupal elements working under the hood is extremely hard and takes loads of time. So at the end the day we believe that Z-Ray gives Drupal devs the visibility they need to properly profile their apps, identify bugs very early, and troubleshoot them.