The PHP Rift

PHP 4 is about to die. At least the PHP core wants to kill it, but there is a rift in the PHP community. A lot of PHP developers feel that PHP 5 has betrayed them because of the backward compatibility issues. PHP 5 has failed in adoption, a lot of PHP developers have specifically avoided it.

Some feel that the upgrade to PHP 5 is more troublesome than helpful for the users. Matt Mullenweg, founder of a popular PHP blogging engine called WordPress, says

They say “Web hosts cannot upgrade their servers to PHP 5 without making it impossible for their users to run PHP 4-targeted web apps” ignoring the fact that there isn’t a released PHP app today that isn’t PHP 5-compatible and recent upgrade issues have been caused by PHP itself in point releases. (See WP#3354.) It’s easy to always promote the newest thing, but why, and is it for us or our users?

As a programmer I feel that one should upgrade to PHP 5. Because it has some good things, like pull parsing. Also, I believe that OOP makes writing better code and managing it easier. Not that procedural does not give good code, but with OOP it is a tad easier. Some biggies like Yahoo! and Facebook have migrated to PHP 5.

Having said that I agree with Matt that the upgrade should not be harmful for the end users. And I think the lack of adoption is mainly because there is less tolerance towrads the upgrade. WordPress runs on PHP 4 and 5 both, it might not require any specific PHP 5 features. However I am sure there will be cases when PHP 5 can help. There is gophp5, but I think effort is required in gaining confidence of the user community and probably a better plan from the PHP core team to upgrade to PHP 5. Even if it does not provide any specific benefit to the end user, at the least it should not be harmful.

Discussion [Participate or Link]

  1. Aaron said:

    Although I only run PHP5 on my servers, I find I have to code for PHP4 because of the sheer number of servers still running it. I’d love to be able to take advantage of PHP5’s features, but the only way to do that is to fork my projects into PHP4 and 5 versions which is just too much trouble.

    I really think that hosts should start making plans to migrate servers to php5 en-mass, but it doesn’t seem to be happening outside of the smaller companies.

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  4. John Cage said:

    I fully agree that the adoption of PHP5 has been nowhere near what was expected and many people are still happy to code in PHP4. In addition to this, there’s also a LOT of legacy code out there that needs PHP4 in order to run. Really I think it’s up to the community to voice their opinion, like we’re doing now really, and hope that we are listened to.

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Abhijit Nadgouda
iface Consulting
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