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Why You Should Migrate From PHP 5 to PHP 7 in 2017

Aiesha Hasan Mar 01, 2017
migrate-from-php5-to-php7

PHP is extremely a popular language. Almost  82% websites use PHP which means that most of the site are made on PHP to at least some extent. With the increasing number of mobile users who relies on relatively slow 3g connections, it is necessary for the servers to powers the websites to load quickly on user requests.

According to a study, 40% users abandons the web page if it takes more than 3 seconds to load. PHP 7 offers a 100% improvement in performance speed over its previous PHP 5.6 version. The reason to develop PHP 7 is to make scripting languages run more efficiently. Comparing to PHP 5.6, PHP 7 has reduced demands on servers, making it more cost-effective and an environment-friendly choice as less energy is required to power servers running PHP 7 applications.

PHP 7 has gone through several months of beta testing and was finally released in the stable form on 3rd Dec 2015, promises with some real speed improvements and latest features in comparison to previous versions of this language. The PHP community embraces this new version of the scripting language because of the fast PHP performance.

What’s New in PHP 7?

Twice as fast as PHP 5, PHP 7 can surely compete with modern competitors such as Facebook’s Hip Hop Virtual Machine (HHVM). PHP 7 also offers fast performance to the Drupal users with the additional benefit of not using a virtual machine to execute the PHP code. One more key advantage of PHP 7 is that when it runs on WordPress 4.1.1, it can execute twice as many requests per second as the same WordPress platform running PHP 5.6.

Developers should familiarize themselves with the technical changes appear in PHP 7 if they are intending to upgrade to PHP 7  for web development projects.

Scalar Type Hints & Return Type:

Developers like to declare a return type for the function or method. But by default, PHP 7 allows developers to declare what kind of return type function is expected to return a value. This means that now programmers can specify the type of variable that a function should return. In PHP 7, the return type is defined after closing parenthesis of the argument list.

This is an example of PHP 7 which declares the function “f1” that returns an array. Whereas, in PHP 5.6, programmers cannot specify the return type which makes it impossible for anyone reading the code that what the function “f1” is about.

Declaring the return type makes the code much easier to read while debugging your own code or working on the code of someone else.

Spaceship Operator:

PHP 7 introduced a new operator called spaceship operator ( < = > )or combined comparison operator. This operator mostly used in sorting and combined comparison. It works like strcmp() or version_compare ()

Before PHP7:

After PHP7:

This is one of the beautiful addition in this latest PHP version which can be used to quickly and conveniently compare two expressions. The operators can be used as follows:
a < = > b

  • f a is less than b, the expression output would be  -1
  • If a is equal to b, the expression output  would be   0
  • If a is greater than b, the expression output would be  1

Additional Features

Apart from the above-mentioned changes, there are some other modifications added into PHP7. Here is the list.

  • Error handling replaced with object oriented exceptions. This change will help developers to track and fix the bugs in their code.
  • The syntax for the foreach statement has changed.
  • No more comments in INI file. Instead of putting a # symbol with the comment, use “;” semi-colon.
  •  In PHP 5.6, the bug which makes the switch statement to have multiple default classes is now fixed.
  • The list () operator doesn’t support string anymore.

How to Migrate From PHP 5 to PHP 7?

PHP 7 is the most significant update that has affected PHP in more than a decade. However, upgrading your existing code with PHP 7 might come with few challenges. But the reward would be much faster performance and less demand on the web servers.

The things you need to make sure before switching to PHP 7 firstly make sure the libraries that the PHP project uses are available for PHP 7.

If the libraries are supported by PHP 7 then you may need to hold off the upgrading for a while or check if it’s possible to remove the dependency on those libraries.

If the code is written in PHP 5.5 or 5.6, then upgrading to PHP 7 will be real easy. However, if you are using PHP 4, then there will be some syntax changes you need to be aware of. For example, the constructor functions in PHP 4 are no longer supported in PHP7.

While upgrading to PHP 7, ensures that your code includes unit and integration tests. These tests should identify any issues with your applications before they pop up as bugs on live screen.

Conclusion.

PHP 7 performances advantages mean that it is going to play a key role in the future of Web Development. Many popular websites developing platforms such as WordPress allows its users to easily upgrade to the new PHP version to experience much better services.

Read here: Top Questions to ask from a Professional PHP Development Company

Aiesha Hasan

Aiesha Hasan

Digital Content Producer at Arpatech
Aiesha Hasan is a Web Developer and a Digital Content Creator. She likes to keep in touch with the latest technology in the world and educate people about it.
Aiesha Hasan

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