PHP Upgrade – Part of The Regular Maintenance Workflow

PHP Versions Against Performance

PHP Versions Against Performance

Have you ever noticed the release patterns for iPhone or iOS versions? Do you see any similarity with the release for Windows versions? Both platforms are clearly withdrawing support for previous versions, or offering maintenance for just one or two of the recently released versions.

Why do they do this? Is it purely profit driven or is there other factors? Sure, some of it can be attributed to say greed, but really it is driven more by technical responsibility. Anytime you see a new version of software or OS, it always arrives with new features and functionality. Plus developers are keeping up with changes in hardware, so they are relevant for a new generation of users.

Besides maintaining support for newer technologies, companies realize time and resources must be spent on fixing bugs and releasing regular updates. This significant investment forces them to withdraw support for an older version, otherwise they risk taking a loss on their bottom line.

What about Open Source?

Consider what happens with open source software, where releasing companies either rely on donations of money or time/work by other community members like developers and public users. Despite these obstacles, Google Android perserves its 2.0 versions, as PHP still supports it’s release of 5.2. Bravo! Though, real praise goes to the developers who answer questions on forums, and who offer their valuable services, either free or with only minimal development charges.

Valid Reasons For Regular Updates

This why I suggest you regularly update your PHP. Your business should leverage the latest technology, by using its out-of-box new features and functionality. Now, let’s consider the opposing option. You may have seemingly valid reasons for not taking regular updates, nor feel the resource investment for installing the latest version and transferring older style codes into modern technologies. You think, “really, what will I lose?” On the surface, it would seem like not much. But dig a little deeper and you’ll find, a lot!

  • For instance, in 2011, PHP 5.2 was declared an unsupported version, which means there is no guarantee of reliability for your valuable data on a website. In turn, there may be more opportunity for your website to behave oddly or for hackers to exploit it. If anything goes seriously wrong, you then have to find a seasoned PHP developer to fix your web application, and likely spend higher than normal developer rates.
  • Plus, you won’t have access to useful Object Oriented Programming features which began support with PHP 5.3 version. If you want to stay with or ahead of  competition on the modern web, as well as aligned with current search engine algorithms, then performance optimization that comes with PHP 5.4+ is paramount. PHP 5.4 offers rapid execution time while reducing the memory footprint.
  • Upgrading also provides you with the latest functionality of Namespace, which allows modularity and separation as classes, constants, and functions. Moreover, it can be nested and quite simple to pick-and-mix frameworks or libraries. You can therefore avoid naming collision and receive key elements for PSR-o (PHP Standard Recommendation).
  • Apart from Namespace, 5.3 offers a PHP programmer: anonymous functions, better date time, SPL data structures, works on Windows, e-deprecated error reports, and late static binding-like features as a bonus.
  • With version 5.4, a PHP developer gains additional tools, such as improved performance, reduction in memory footprint, built-in web server, traits, short array notation, array dereferences, less nonsense, etc.

Conclusion

I suggest you incorporate the PHP upgrade process as a part of your maintenance workflow. Upgrade maintenance works seamlessly with low cost of time and resources, and with much to gain.

References & More Reading
PHP Version Adoption
Upgrading PHP

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