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I ran across with phrasing "to port over" in some articles. What does it mean?

  • There have been a few instances, where porting functionality over to the Zend Framework resulted in immediate performance gains.
  • _the initial port over tends to perform a little slower*
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4 answers within 10 minutes of the question being asked! Is that a record? –  TrevorD Jul 24 '13 at 13:33

5 Answers 5

"To port over" especially in the context of a computer system refers to moving functionality from one system or architecture to another. In your example:

where porting functionality over to the Zend Framework assumes that the system/program was probably written in php without the use of the zend framework and thus after rearchitecting/rewriting/moving the code to use the zend framework has resulted in better performance.

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‘To port’ is an IT term meaning “to translate (software) into a version for another computer or operating system” (Merriam-Webster: port, sense 7).

‘To port over’ is basically the same thing.

Porting has the added nuance that it is a translation of existing code into another form, rather than a complete rewrite. Hence, your second example (that the port performs slower than the original) is very common. Similar to how text that is translated from language A to language B often flows less naturally in language B than text originally written in the language originally, software that is originally written in one language and then ported to another frequently suffers from overhead resulting from the translation—overhead that would not have been present if originally written in the target language directly.

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Porting is a term used in software development. It basically means to take an existing program and rebuild it to work in some new environment, like porting an app from one operating system to another.

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Another example would be console games porting over to PC. –  Gaʀʀʏ Jul 24 '13 at 15:07

From ODO:

port5 verb
[with object and adverbial of direction]
1 Computing transfer (software) from one system or machine to another

Just as one can add over to verbs like carry and transfer to mean across some sort of divide, it can be used with port. The meaning is almost exactly identical.

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"To port over" is to take a software module, such as a program, library or interface, and re-implement it in a language, platform or other environment with which the original implementation was incompatible, allowing the feature set of this module to be available to developers or end users in the new environment. The word "port" can also be a noun, referring to the end product of this process.

The etymology is based on the word and concept of "portable". The basic idea is to change as little as possible about the specification of what is being reimplemented, making the new system behave as the old one does. The ideal is that the new implementation is completely "interoperable", able to accept the same inputs in the same ways, and produce the same outputs, as the original. This allows users, and dependent systems, to transfer their knowledge of the older system easily to the new one.

This is usually a little more involved than a company offering different versions of their product that are compatible with different operating systems; often, the developer of a port is not the same person or group that developed the original. As such, the term implies a certain amount of "reverse engineering", where the original product is examined to determine its function and inner workings, and this knowledge is then used to re-create it.

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