PHP 7: The Mark of PHP’s Transformation

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If you are a product owner, there are no chances that you haven’t heard of PHP. Every entrepreneur with a web app has made sure to hire PHP coders because they know the fantastic benefits and reputation PHP holds. 

However, we’ll start anew. 

PHP is one of the most widely available and vastly used scripting languages. It works on the server-side, and the world knows the benefits it provides for creating websites. 

The language was put forth for the world to use in 1994 by Rasmus Lerdorf, and in no time, it gained global recognition and a robust community base. 

Developers all over the world were eagerly using it, and those who didn’t were planning on making a shift from the current languages they apply to PHP. 

Not just individual developers, but many reputed organizations across different seas accepted PHP with open arms and made efficient use of the language by adding it to their tech stack. 

Currently, the internet is equipped with several websites, out of which 79% are built using PHP, including big brands like WordPress, Facebook, Yahoo, Wikipedia, and Tumblr.

Fast forward to the current time!

The latest PHP (PHP 7) version has been providing tremendous business benefits to every web app/ website owner. 

The version is a massively redesigned release of the then existing PHP version. 

It offers new language constructs, lower resource utilization, and significant performance improvements. These fabulous benefits continue making PHP 7 the most preferred option for fast-paced business-focused applications. 

In this article, we will cover: 

  • PHP 7 Features
  • Its performance comparison
  • End of life
  • Major releases
  • How PHP 7 release marked a transformative change for PHP

What is PHP 7?

PHP 7 is the latest version of the popular scripting language, PHP. It was released for the public back in 2015 after the success of PHP version 5.6. 

PHP 7 delivered brilliant new features and significant resource utilization and performance improvements. 

Release Date

PHP 7.0 was released on the 3rd of December in 2015. Whereas, the most recent version on PHP, PHP 7.4 was released on the 28th of November in 2019. The latest version is expected to be the last release of PHP 7. After this, PHP 8 is expected to be launched by the end of the year 2020. 

End of Life

The version PHP 7.0 and 7.1 are both long gone. PHP 7.2 is expected to reach its end of life by the 30th of November 2020. Assuming that PHP 7.4 is the most recent version in the PHP 7 series, it is expected to reach its end of life by the 28th of November, 2020.

Major Releases

PHP 7 witnessed four significant releases since the launch of PHP 7.0 in 2015.

  1. PHP 7.1
  2. PHP 7.2
  3. PHP 7.3
  4. PHP 7.4

Features offered by Amazing PHP 7

PHP 7 came along with dozens of new and exciting features, and massive performance boosts to provide. It provided the community with a strong high-powered language that is an enormous competition with other languages in the modern technological setup. Some of the features PHP 7 introduced were earlier considered to be “missing” by many developers. 

The feature that needs to be appreciated the most is PHP 7’s ability to provide 2x speed to the application, compared to PHP 5. 

It adds static type hinting, which makes many tools available for static error detection and static analysis. 

Anonymous Classes

Anonymous classes are one of the best practices for testability in PHP. 

Anonymous classes allow you to: 

  1. Test and abstract class without extending it
  2. Change the visibility of a method or property to increase its testability. 
  3. Test a trait

The feature can receive constructor arguments, which means they can receive other dependencies or objects required to perform their tasks. Anonymous classes can be nested when necessary. 

Scalar Type Hints

Most developers would be well aware of the concept of type hints when it is about type hinting on arrays and objects. The feature is used for indicating the interface, object, or present an array we wish to incorporate. PHP 7 scales the game up quite high by providing developers the easiness to include scalar type hints for integers, floats, Booleans, and strings. 

The feature is incredibly useful if you wish to enforce any type of argument that needs to be passed to a specific function. It is also used for validating your intent while you code.

Suppose you permit certain strings or integers and implement arithmetic on the argument; in such case, your code can generate a bug. Enforcing scalar type hints would ensure that you only receive the type that functions admirably with your intended design. 

Return Type Hints

Along with scalar type hints, PHP 7 also provides developers with Return type hints that specify the particular return type you expect. 

Generally, running return type hints on all of your methods to the most frequency and sticking with an individual return type declaration is a good idea.

Engine Exceptions

In PHP 7, raising fatal errors are taken under the hood by moving the engine to use exceptions. PHP 7 introduced a throwable class for exceptions used by all executions to raise their exceptions. From there, the PHP 7 further extends exceptions into two categories: Traditional exceptions and Error exceptions.

The category Error is further extended to multiple types such as TypeError and ParseError. These exceptions can be appropriately caught using the type hint. 

Just remember, not all exceptions must be caught like parse errors. 

New Syntax Features Offered by PHP 7

PHP 7 brought incredible and vast numbers of syntax features that make developers’ lives a bit easier. They are exceptionally beneficial and convenient in use. These syntactic features make developing in PHP 7 pretty comfortable. 

Group Import Declaration

PHP 5.3 introduced namespaces, which has gained massive popularity for the development of any PHP application. Therefore, there may be many instances where you wish to add multiple classes in the same namespace. 

Before PHP 7 was introduced, the process mentioned above was challenging to execute, it involved dozens of boilerplate lines in being integrated at the start of the file. 

However, PHP 7 made that easy by introducing group import statements. 

A group import statement does what it says- it allows a developer to group what they wish to import. Therefore the base namespace remains the same, and you only list out what you want to import.

Null Coalescing Operator

The icing on the cake PHP 7 provided us is the ability to utilize the null coalescing operator. The operator offers a variable based on whether or not your first value is invalid. It shortens the process of syntax for finding a null value and assigning it something else. 

Spaceship Operator 

It refers to a straightforward tool that lets you compare two extensions. The tool analyzes the expression by determining if the left-most parameter is less than, greater than or equal to the right-most parameter, and then it returns with -1 (less), 0 (equivalent), or 1 (higher). 

This comparison can be used on strings, floats, and integers.

The performance displayed by PHP 7

The version upgrade after PHP 5.3, i.e., PHP 7, has dramatically improved the scripting language’s performance, in many cases, it even doubled the performance of an application earlier based on PHP 5 versions.

The credit to this performance enhancement goes totally to the PHP core team, especially in rewriting the underlying PHP components to enhance its speed and performance.

Each release in PHP 7 contributes to a greeted boost in performance. 

Drupal

Compared to the previous PHP version, Drupal’s speed has increased by 72% on PHP 7.

WordPress

The PHP 7 runtime executes just 25M CPU instructions for WordPress, compared to older PHP versions running just under 100M. 

Magento

Servers running on PHP 7 for Magento can serve up to three times more requests than PHP 5.6. 

The most prominent example was that of an enterprise-level application when Tumblr rolled out the PHP 7, they recorded a 50% drop in latency, and their CPU load decreased by 50%. 

Future of PHP

There is no solid reason to assume that PHP is vanishing anytime soon. Since the time PHP was launched, it has continued to gain popularity within the developer’s community and the business world. 

The constant upgrades PHP offers make us believe that it is here to stay. 

Although PHP 7 version could reach the end of life by the end of the year 2020, PHP 8 would be rolled out, and the legacy will continue. 

Therefore you should not even have an ounce of skepticism in choosing to develop with PHP.

Conclusion

Since PHP’s legacy will go on and has been prevalent for quite a long time, one should not hesitate to hire PHP developers & coders for web development. PHP has only provided benefits to each brand that chose to go with the scripting language. 

The history is proof of PHP’s capabilities. 

The language is so prevalent that you will not have to go through a time-consuming, head-hurting task to find a developer to work on your niche technology. There is an abundance of experienced PHP developers who can guide you from start to end. 

And the update rolled out time-to-time will keep your application in trend, always.