The Importance of Upgrading to PHP 7

Whether you missed the recent December release of PHP 7 in the holiday bustle or followed the release date down to the minute, you most likely have already heard about this important programming update. This release can provide major benefits to legacy web applications, so our strategists here at Artisans Collaborative want to take a few minutes to highlight why upgrading to PHP 7 is important and how it might affect the development process.


Why the Jump from PHP 5 to PHP 7?

It has been 10 years since the release of PHP 5. In that time, many developers have abandoned PHP in favor of newer or more refined languages, but the core team behind PHP has continued to improve the language and engine, which still powers some of the largest websites and web applications on the Internet. When the next version of PHP was announced, we immediately started nightly builds to stay up to date with all the development, new features, and upgrades the PHP Group came out with.

The PHP Group worked for several years on PHP 6 as the natural successor to PHP 5, but the project was eventually scrapped due to poor performance and language challenges. However, PHP 6 reached a wide enough audience that it was commonly known throughout the PHP development community. As an effort to avoid confusion, as PHP 6 was silently discarded, the PHP Group began development on PHP 7, which would become the official next release and main competitor to the Facebook alternative (known as Hacklang and HHVM). Now, many of those who left PHP are slowly returning to take a second look at the very impressive PHP 7 language.

Out of the Box Performance

One of the most important benefits of upgrading to PHP 7 is the drastically improved performance. This version runs on a brand new Zend engine that makes PHP 7 up to 2 times faster than the previous version. As soon as you upgrade, your current applications will load so much faster – and you do not have to write a single line of code!

The speed improvements do reduce the memory footprint and CPU usage, but this translates into the business advantage of reaching more visitors, faster, and without having to scale server architecture. Additionally, it can lead to cost savings, as large and overly powerful servers can be scaled down to a more manageable level. A pre- and post-upgrade benchmark can help you decide on the right strategy as you scale up or down.

Long-Term Support and Security

Sure, moving your applications to the new platform gives you new features, but another major benefit to upgrading is the access to the security patches, bug fixes and maintenance updates that come with the future of the programming language. Now that PHP 7 is released, all earlier versions will become phased out over time and will not receive this invaluable support, which could leave your application vulnerable. Upgrading now to the LTS version of PHP 7 will help your websites and web applications become maintainable and secure for years to come by reducing your technical debt.

100% Compatible with Laravel

It should be no secret that Laravel is our favorite programming platform, so we are thrilled that the latest upgrades to the PHP language work seamlessly with this beautiful framework. Additionally, Laravel recently released version 5.2, which means you can also enjoy the latest and greatest features of the framework in 100% compatibility with the latest and greatest features of PHP 7. You can also hold Laravel back to the LTS 5.1 version to enjoy long-term support and framework updates as you continue to maintain your web application. You can learn all about the upgrade details on Laravel.com.

Type Hinting for More Robust Source

Every developer spends countless hours writing source code as part of building a large-scale web application. They then spend countless hours writing tests to cover all known logic and to catch any bugs that might have slipped in. Much of what makes the application robust is the handling of PHP's inherent flexible variable types. While it is often convenient to accept a mixed bag of variables as inputs, which PHP gracefully allows without proper type hinting, this can lead to brittle applications.

PHP 7 helps developers to build more robust source code by providing stronger type hinting for arguments and return values. The engine uses these type hints to catch bad code inputs and outputs at runtime. Additional tools are available for shortened syntax, abbreviated use statements, and anonymous classes with less boilerplate. This adds up to writing less code, which reduces development cycles and, therefore, lets you spend more time on quality assurance.

Upgrade to PHP 7 Today

There are still even more new features that have received in-depth coverage and release notes. Hopefully, you are convinced that upgrading is important and is a clear win for any website or web application. Our skilled engineers are ready to offer our support as you upgrade. We can evaluate your current platform and help you create a strategy to make the transition as easy and as seamless as possible. If you have not yet built your program, our team can craft a quality application using all the latest technologies. Contact us today!


More Reading