PHP 7: Features that makes this Latest Version Powerful
PHP 7 had its release on 3rd December 2015, and has taken the world of scripting language by storm since . Experts touted for the immense leap it took from its the last version, which was PHP 5.6, and all the major PHP based Content Management Systems (CMS) like WordPress, Magento, Joomla, Drupal, etc. soon upgraded themselves for this better option. As per the norm, each release of PHP is only supported for a period of two years, wherein, all the major and minor issues are addressed and fixed. At the end of this period, only major security threats are looked into as the active support stops, and a new update for the version is released. Since its release in 2015, the PHP community has given its three more updated version of this scripting language, namely, PHP 7.1, PHP 7.2, and PHP 7.3, all well within their period of active support as of the time of writing. PHP 7 has put its best step forward, offering a plethora of features, and is a major version since PHP 5, given the fact that PHP 6 was a big failure; having started in 2005 and finally abandoned in 2010.
Even after so many positive reviews and warm reception for most of the part, the adaptation rate for PHP 7 hasn’t been really convincing. Of all the websites known to be using PHP for their back-end, only around 34% have moved on to PHP 7, while the love for PHP5 still looks strong, having 65% of the user base. Maybe web owners are still busy in experimenting with fancy plugins and writing awesome blog posts about the latest technological trends, instead of using this latest version for better performance and security. Whatever be the reason, it’s important on our part to shed some light on everything existing, new, and good about this open source programming language, to help you and others change their minds and seek the services of PHP 7 for your website.
The Confusion:PHP 7 vs Modified PHP 6.0
Before we start looking at what PHP 7 has to offer to our back-ends, let us clear some confusion and questions, which are:
2. Is PHP 7 modified PHP 6?
PHP 6 was an ambitious project when it started in 2005. Among all its features, the one that made it talk of the town was its support for native Unicode. The native thing was going so well that this version’s unicode conversion was well around to 70%. But being an open source development projects, people have a habit of working on things that they understand well enough, and the project was too big, the team was not big enough, and it all dragged for too long, making the participants disinterested. Then there was the thing about UTF-16, which only added fuel to the fire, as it negatively impacted the performance. Come 2011, and the project was dropped. But all the practical developments made were not thrown out of the window. Instead, some were added to PHP 5 branch, while the advanced ones were kept for the next one, which was PHP 7. Even Wikipedia’s page for PHP has “Not released” for the release date cell of PHP 6.
What Makes PHP 7 Special?
1. Support for 64-Bit Windows
Developers always had this complain that PHP 5.x was not showing the same passion for 64-bit, as it did for the 32. But the complaint has now been addressed and solved with PHP 7. The new version not only supports the 64, but also delivers improved performance for such window systems. Users now can keep their websites up and ready for the future versions of windows too.
2.Powered by Zend’s Next-Gen Engine
Zend’s engine has been doing PHP’s interpretation job since its 4th version, which was released in early 2000. Coded in C by Andi Gutmans and Zeev Suraski, the scripting engine had its release in 1999. In PHP 5, Zend II was used, but to bring a bigger change and improvisation, Zend III was born, which was also named as Zender Next Generation, which is also the reason why PHP7 is often termed as PHPNG. Although supporting a bigger and better number of extensions than its predecessors, there are few extensions still not supported in the recent version, like:
3. Abstract Syntax Tree (AST)
PHP 7 comes with Abstract Syntax Tree (AST). So what changed in PHP 7 with this new arrival? In this new version, any code goes through three major steps, namely, Lexing, Parsing, Compilation. It allows you to use Syntax in intermediary structure in an easy way. AST gives you the freedom to emit opcodes directly from the parser and remove multiple hacks, making the whole process of implementation easier. PHP 5, in the absence of AST, combined step two and three, emitting opcodes after some feature in the list of tokens, which lead to multiple problems due to lack of information.
4. Better Error Handling Capacity
PHP 7 does a tremendous job in handling catchable and fatal errors. The recent updates exceptions have done well in replacing old errors from PHP 7. In contrast to PHP 5 traditional error reporting mechanism, errors are now handled by throwing error exceptions. What’s more? The exception base class now doesn’t extend in the new Engine Exceptions.
5. Cloud Computing Support
Zend’s partnership with reputed cloud computing solution providers has helped users in making their application portable. That means developers are now not only able to retrieve or extract their files, but will also share their work from one cloud server to another anytime. This move has helped e-commerce development big time. As now the speed and performance of digital store are not affected, these websites are lightweight than ever, and safe and secure as well.
6. Improved Speed
Teams and experts agree that PHP 7 is twice as fast as PHP 5.6. The whole next generation engine was built while having this particular aim in mind. The Just-in-Time (JIT) compilation supports instant compilation of code instead of having to wait for the execution time period. Such speed and performance helps you in multiple tasks. Like serving big traffic with fewer servers than before. The site source code will also be executed faster than ever. What PHP 7 also does is it removes deprecated functionalities PHP 5.0. It also removes the dead SAPIs and extensions that do not support PHP 7.0. Some examples of dead SAPIs are: