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Upgrading the PHP version – why is it worth it?

/ 22.04.2021 PHP

In the dynamically developing IT industry, it is extremely important to stay up to date with the latest technologies and tools. If it is not done in time, you will not only be lagging behind the competition in all respects, but you will also expose your business to a number of problems.  In this article I would like to discuss the issue of upgrading the version of one of the most popular languages encountered on the Internet today – PHP. Are your IT teams using any of the older versions of this language? I hope to convince you with my arguments below that it is high time to consider the changes and start implementing the update.

Supporting the version by creators

PHP has been with us for over 25 years and has been dynamically developed by its creators from the very beginning. Version 5.6, released in 2014, enjoyed exceptionally long support (ended only at the beginning of 2019). This helped it become then (and is perhaps still) one of the most widespread backend technologies on the Internet. With the release of PHP 7, however, the approach to the length of support for specific versions has been changed. The version that is already supported when we completed the project, a year later, may turn on red lights in infrastructure testing systems. This is the first argument in favour of constant monitoring of the situation and updating. However, there are many more reasons.

Security first and foremost

Security issues are probably of key importance to you when it comes to the software used in your company. Irregularities in this area can result in serious consequences. Access to the system may be obtained, e.g. by a person who has absolutely no right to have it. The errors in the application are developer-dependent, but he has no influence on errors in the language used by the application. By keeping your PHP version up-to-date, you can be sure that your software has all the latest security patches released by the creators. Thus, you eliminate its susceptibility to external attacks.

Significant increase in performance​ 

Undoubtedly, the performance of your system is as important to you as security. Applications keep growing, which means they can become slower and slower over time. Of course, your programmers can still add resources to the machines on which the applications are installed, or even add more machines. However, this is not a good solution in the long run and also generates high costs. The PHP creators are trying hard to make this language work better and more efficiently with each new version. The difference in the performance of PHP 5 and PHP 7 is almost double! So by upgrading the language version, your team will be able to easily and quickly improve the operation of the application, without the need to interfere with its infrastructure or look for ways to optimise the code.

Time saving and new possibilities

A programming language, like any creation, develops and evolves. As part of the update, creators constantly add new functionalities to PHP that help to improve or even accelerate the entire development process. Additionally, your team will be more satisfied with their work if they can use new, ready-made modules. The functionalities in each new PHP version are available as its component. This reduces the working time of programmers virtually to zero, if they had to write them from scratch. Additionally, “native” functionalities are usually much faster than those developed independently. Typing is the best example of improvements that have been of great importance recently. For PHP, this functionality was added in version 7. Adding types not only facilitates development (the programmer does not have to wonder what a given value is), but primarily improves the code quality. From now on, the language itself, not the programmer, is responsible for ensuring that the appropriate data type is in the right place.

To sum up,  keeping the language in your projects up-to-date will not only provide you with business benefits, but also inner peace. You will be sure that the software in your company is fully secured and your team is as efficient and effective as possible. Moreover, you will certainly be able to recruit new programmers much easier. It is obvious that the best specialists are much more willing to work with the latest versions of languages and frameworks, and they avoid the outdated ones.

Our experience At VM.PL, we started our business primarily with the implementation of PHP projects, which is why we currently have a lot of them in our Portfolio. Some are just the so-called “maintenance”, and some of them are still actively developed. During their use, we repeatedly performed the process of updating the PHP version in our products and for our customers. An example is the project for the Macmillan Polska publishing house, as part of which we have created a dedicated diagnostic system. The full case study can be read here:
Category: PHP

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Jakub Orczyk

Member of the Management Board/ Sales Director VM.PL

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