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9 Things You Should Need to Know About PHP 7

Wajid Hussain Jan 25, 2017
Best things in php7

If you are a web developer or a website owner, and you love to use CMS that are PHP-enabled like WordPress, Drupal, Joomla or Magento, you should rejoice to hear that according to official PHP timetable, PHP 7 which was released on 3 December 2015, is now ready for the production use.

Yes you heard it right! PHP 7 is out to use. We are going to tell all the great things you need to know about PHP 7.

As soon as the PHP 7 was released, many developers and programmers started downloading the beta version and start playing around it but found it full of bugs.

They reported it and that is how the PHP 7 went behind the curtains until it become fully bug-proof.

PHP 7 is a platform that can deliver powerful app, all from cloud to enterprise applications and from mobile to the web Applications. Almost everything comes under the umbrella of PHP 7. This version has the most powerful impact as it decreases the memory consumption with extreme improvements in performance.

Let’s take a look at what PHP 7 entails:

1. Don’t Get Confuse in 6 or 7

The version PHP 5.6 renamed to PHP 7. As PHP 6 already existed, developers tend to do some experimental project but this version of PHP never reached to the production phase. After some dispute, the PHP official development team came to a conclusion and they decided that they will name this new version to PHP 7 and will omit PHP 6 name completely.

The decision helped the users to stay away from mixing up the previously attempted experiment with the latest development. 

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2.  PHPNG, the New Core

After the release of PHP 4 in 1999, the platform was powered by the Zend engine till now.

Zend, the Zend Framework, which supports PHP 7, is an open source execution engine and is written in C language. It is used to interpret the PHP language. The PHP 5.X uses the Zend Engine II that was used to enhance the functionality of the previous engine.

Whereas the PHP 7 uses the Zend Engine with a code name of PHPNG (Next Generation).

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Image source: wiki.PHP.net

3. Double the Speed

There are many improvements which can be seen when it comes to new PHPNG Engine, but the most significant feature is the improvement in the performance. The PHPNG is the new structure of the Zend Engine thus, we can see optimized memory usage.

By using PHP7, you will need fewer servers to serve the same amount of users with the increased time of execution of code. The below graph is the performance benchmarks that Zend Performance Team provides.

 

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Image source: leanpub.com

4. Power of Error Handling

Handling the catchable fatal errors is not an easy task for PHP coders and never have been. The only solution to handle these fatal errors is to use Exceptions.This new Zend Engine provides the facility for the PHP developers to handle the errors easily without the system failure at the run time which is quite unprofessional.

The new EngineException objects in new Zend Engine don’t extend the Exception Base Class of previous versions. This object shows that the new system is using the interfaces and data from earlier versions but producing the different kinds of exceptions in error handling: the Traditional and the Engine Exceptions.

PHP 7 enables PHP programmers to catch both types of exceptions by introducing the new Parent Class Called BaseException.

The code and the result emerged because of the fatal errors due to the previous versions is shown below:

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Image source: wiki.PHP.net

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Image source: wiki.PHP.net

The new changings are:

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Image source: wiki.PHP.net

5. 64-Bit Windows Systems Support

Native environment of PHP is Linux because the PHP is a prominent member of the LAMP stack. But it is not impossible to run PHP to run on Windows system. There are two types of bit systems of Windows X86 and X64. The PHP 5.X don’t provide the support to X64 bit version of Windows. So PHP 7 introduced the support to X64 bit Windows system.

PHP 7 now allows you to run the language on your 64-bit Windows system. Both 64-bit integers and large files are supported by PHP 7.

6. New Spaceship (<=>) and Null Coalescing (??)  Operators

The official name for Spaceship operator is Combined Comparison Operator. The notation of this operator is like a simplified spaceship like this <=>.

This operator gives result 0 if both left-hand operand and right-hand operand are equal, returns 1 if the left operand is greater than right operand and -1 if the left operand is greater than the right operand. This three-way comparison operator not only exist in PHP but also in other programming languages like Perl and Ruby.

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Image source: wiki.PHP.net

The Null Coalescing – denoted as (??), used to check if the value exists or not, if the value does not exist then it returns a default value and if the value does exist it will return the left operand, and right operand returned if the value doesn’t exist or may be any other case.

The below code snippet shows how this new operator reduces the time spent on basic declarations:

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Image source: wiki.PHP.net

7.  Enables Accurate Type Declarations

The new PHP 7 allows developers and programmers that they can intensify the quality of their code by using the correct return type declarations so that the unintended return values can prevented.

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Image source: wiki.PHP.net

The image shows a simple use case foo() function. This feature is supposed to return an array. There are more complicated examples which show the return type declarations.

PHP 7 have introduced four new types of declarations for scalar values to increase the features even more. The types are – int, float, string and bool. These new scalar types allow the PHP developers to denote the integers, floats, strings or booleans to get returned.

8. Add Anonymous Classes

PHP 7 enables the developers to use OOP concept and to use anonymous classes. The concept already exists and used in many Object-oriented languages like C# and Java. The anonymous class – as defined by the name- are the classes with no names. But the object that instantiates has same functionality as an object of a named class.

If we talk about the syntax which is same as what we were using in traditional PHP classes the only difference is the name, which is missing. The advantage of using anonymous class is that it can increase the speed of code and execution time as well, if and only if these classes used in an excellent way. And in the case when a class doesn’t need to be documented.

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Image source: wiki.PHP.net

9. Imports from the Same Namespace

The Group Use Declarations– is indeed a bless feature for the developers who want to import many classes from the same namespace when required. This new syntax helped the developers by cutting the babbling of words, makes the code neat and clean and easier and save the typing time.

Using Group Use Declarations makes it easy and clean for you to read through and debug codes as it helps the developers to identify the imports of the same namespace in a module.

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Image source: wiki.PHP.net

Conclusion

PHP 7 has been introduced with a goal to free up space which leads to improvement. It was crucial to get rid of many deprecated functionalities , old and unsupported Server APIs and extensions to increase the speed and free up space.

This clean up provides more security by removing items that have deprecated for a while in PHP 5 and not in use for a long time. PHP 7 can break the code if your app is running on older version of PHP.

This article helps you to get to the conclusion that how advance the PHP 7 is. And in next versions, you will see more enhancements and new improvements which would be more exciting for the developers and programmers who love to play with PHP code. You might then come across some bugs but wait! That’s how the system tested and that’s how you will learn more and more and can become PHP champ!

Like! Share! Subscribe! And tell us in the comment section below any cool feature that you love about PHP 7.

Wajid Hussain

Wajid Hussain

Community Manager at Arpatech
Wajid Hussain has a vast experience in Magento and PHP fields. He is currently a Community Manager at Arpatech. He keeps himself engaged with latest e-commerce and Magento trends and also happens to be an avid football fan. You can follow him on Twitter at @wajidstack or contact him through e-mail wajid.hussain[at]arpatech.com
Wajid Hussain
  • Csongor

    > The version 5.6 renamed to PHP 7.
    WHAT??? PHP7 is the next version after 5.6. It is the next release after 5.6, not a rename.

    • Nico Haase

      And even the link to the Changelog does not reflect anything written in that section

  • Csongor

    > The PHP 5.X don’t provide the support to X64 bit version of Windows. So PHP 7 introduced the support to X64 bit Windows system.

    WHAT??? Could you check the http://windows.php.net/download/ page and search for “x64”, please? You will see a miracle there…

  • Giel Berkers

    Isn’t EngineException a draft that was rejected? Shouldn’t you catch Error instead when dealing with fatal errors?

  • Nico Haase

    Section two: Zend is a company, the Zend Engine powers PHP 5 and PHP 7, the Zend Framework is something completely different.