PHP is a living language and as such, it undergoesconstant developments, experiments and upgrades. This is why, it is hard to predict how it will unfold within a year or even less.
A vivid example is PHP 6, which was well seen as the new official PHP release. However, it was soon brought to oblivion due to a contradiction among participating developers.
On the other hand, the PHP 5.7 dev version has managed to stand the test of time and is now considered a herald of the brand new PHP 7 series.
What happened to PHP 6?
PHP 6 first appeared in 2005 as a development project, which offered a brand new encoding approach by bringing Unicode into the PHP engine. According to the new approach, UTF-16 had to be used for internal encoding of everything inside the engine.
However, the excessive CPU time and memory entangled in the UTF-16 conversion (almost twice as much as with a UTF-8 string) made PHP 6 too complex and resource-consuming to implement.
Thus, PHP 6 never went out of its dev state and many of its worthy new features like the language-integrated Unicode support, etc. ended up landing in the PHP 5.x series.
Here’s what the PHP community had to say about it:
“PHP 6 was one of the biggest traumas in the php.net history. We have magisterially failed to define a clear roadmap, to find consensus on what it should be like, along with many other issues like small groups fighting one another or hidden meetings or developments.”
Why is PHP 5.7 the new official PHP candidate?
As PHP 6 was slowly assimilated by the PHP 5.x branch, the PHP community got some ‘fresh air’ and a strong push to release a new major release candidate – PHP 5.7, also known as PHPNG.
According to phpng developers, the key benefits of PHP 5.7 revolve around performance and memory utilization.
It has so far shown striking performance improvements over the current stable release PHP 5.6 and is about to become nearly 100% faster than PHP 5.6 when rendering the front page of a stock WordPress installation, for example. All that is achieved with no negative effect on its compatibility.
The secret to this performance supremacy is that nearly 60% of the CPU instructions have been “retired” and replaced by more efficient code.
Before PHP 5.7, the only way to get performance like this was by using a HipHop Virtual Machine, which, however is hard to configure and lacks compatibility.
On account of its amazing practice scores, PHP 5.7 is anticipated to bring a tremendous performance boost to the servers around the world.
If PHP 6 was a trauma, the latter seems to have been cured by the excitement over PHPNG and its forthcoming transition into PHP 7.
Here is an official statement of the PHP community about the production release date:
“With key decisions about both the version number and the engine for PHP 7 behind us, it’s time to define an agreed-upon timeline so that all contributors can align around it. The purpose of this RFC is to define a one-year timeline for the delivery of PHP 7.0, with a projected release date of November 2015.”
How to use PHP 5.7 on our servers?
PHP 5.7 is now supported by most bundled extensions and our developers have updated it to the latest release on our servers.
NOTE: Keep in mind that PHP 5.7 is still in development and is not recommended for use on production websites.
You can enable PHP 5.7 for your projects from the Advanced section of your Web Hosting Control Panel, under PHP Configuration: