PHP

Looming PHP 7 and its effect on WordPress

It’s no big secret now that PHP 7 is just on the horizon, and with that development comes questions on how it affects sites that run on WordPress. PHP 7 is a massive update to the server-side web development language called PHP, yet it’s also going to have an impact on any PHP-powered CMS like Drupal, Joomla and Magento.

Performance upgrades

PHP 7’s biggest performance improvement is a direct response to criticism over past performance issues on the platform. The new release will provide a 50% increase to real-world apps, as well as being quicker than HHVM.

Double the speed of earlier installments

This update is almost twice as fast as PHP 5.x. It executes code quicker and also needs fewer servers to manage the same quantity of requests each second. For instance, WordPress’ homepage now needs 72% fewer instructions to execute than previously.

New and improved operators

There are two operators that make their debut on PHP 7: Spaceship and Null Coalescing. The former makes designers’ chained comparisons more concise while the latter is meant to check if something exists.

Function type hints

You’re now allowed to utilize Booleans, Integers, Floats and Strings as function type hints. In addition, they can declare a function’s return type. As a result, this should prevent them from passing and returning incorrect types from functions.

Engine exceptions

Exceptions added to the latest release’s engine will let designers take care of error handling in applications. The new engine exceptions are going to replace these forms of errors, which is great for designers. Now, they can discover any fatal errors and then take immediate action to remedy them.

Continuous 64-bit support

Here’s what 64-bit support on PHP 7 means for you. It’s possible to operate PHP on a 64-bit Windows system with confidence. This is a remarkable change because earlier versions failed to feature support 64-bit integers or bigger files.

Group use declarations

One of the more interesting debut features of PHP 7 is group use declarations. They significantly improve PHP namespace implementation. Designers can now import many classes from the very same namespace, all thanks to the syntax. You’ll benefit by having to type less and writing code that’s more readable and shorter.

Anonymous class support

Classes with no name, anonymous classes help designers enhance their coding and quicken their execution times significantly. Interestingly, other programming languages such as Java and C# also permit designers to utilize anonymous classes in their work.

Abstract Syntax Tree

Abstract Syntax Tree is introduced to PHP 7, and with good reason. It is the intermediary portion in the language compilation process. AST comes with a bunch of advantages, such as the possibility of more optimizations, improved code quality, and the chance to use tools like static code analyzers.

Removal of deprecated items

For PHP to be even quicker, a slew of deprecated features and unsupported/dead server APIs and extensions have been removed in the latest release. Here’s a list of the removed items:

  • ASP style tags
  • PHP4 style constructors
  • Ereg and MYSQL extensions

Here’s a more thorough list of what’s been removed in PHP 7.

There are also vital things to keep in mind when moving to PHP 7.

Notifications

Be on alert for notifications. Site hosts usually send notifications to site owners prior to any PHP updates. Of course, tell your hosting provider right away if you discovered anything amiss.

WordPress site backup

Err on the side of caution and back up your WordPress site. It’s a best practice to have saved copies of your site in various locations before the migration to PHP 7. This applies even if you don’t think that the update will break your site.

Current updates prior to migration

It makes sense to update all of your site elements—such as themes, plugins, and the WordPress site itself—before the migration to PHP 7. This is a wise precaution to ensure that site elements don’t stop working after the switchover.

Talking to your hosting provider

Designers shouldn’t be shy about contacting their web host’s support team, if all else fails. Should your web host not be able to take care of any site issues related to migration, then simply install a new copy of WordPress. After that, restore your entire site from a backup.

Summing up

As with all updates, the release of PHP 7 is exciting for designers and developers alike. It features a ton of options that are designed to make the programming language faster and much improved. That should put a smile on designers’ faces.

Still, migrating to PHP 7 could potentially break your site, so it’s recommended that you follow the precautions above to prevent that from happening!

Marc’s a copywriter who covers design news for Web Designer Depot. Find out more about him at marcschenkercopywriter.com. More articles by Marc Schenker
  • Martin Sotirov

    Great summary of some of the most exciting additions to PHP 7, and the tips specific to WordPress users are appreciated too. It’s only a shame that WP developers won’t be able to take advantage of most syntax additions since Automattic wants to support ancient PHP versions like 5.2.

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