The time has come…PHP 7 is here. The latest version of this popular programming language, used by around 82% of all websites, was first released back in December 2015. If you haven’t yet made the switch, here are just 4 of the many compelling reasons to upgrade your website to PHP 7.
Compared to PHP 5 (don’t worry, you didn’t miss PHP 6 – development failed and it was never released), PHP 7 is around 2 times faster on both WordPress and Drupal. When running on WordPress 4.1.1, it is able to execute twice as many requests per second. It also uses far less memory. All of this means that your website will become faster, more user-friendly and more SEO-friendly too. The upgrade should improve responsiveness and loading speeds, both of which affect your site ranking as well as potentially your conversion rates too.
The official WordPress site recommends that web hosts support PHP version 7 or greater in order to run WordPress. The core developers of the company worked to virtually guarantee compatibility with PHP 7 before it was even released. What this means is that if you have WordPress website, upgrading is a no brainer. You will need to check out plugins, themes and add-ons for compatibility though. Luckily, there is a PHP 7 Compatibility Checker plugin available on WP Engine.
One of the main reasons PHP is such a popular programming language is because of its ease of entry. New web developers find it really easy to use, although this can lead to performance issues and security problems due to poorly written code.
PHP 7 combats this with new functions which remove poorly written, outdated functions. These functions include type hints and declarations, the new Spaceship operator (which allows simple three-way comparisons between left and right-hand operands) and throwable errors which ensure that the site or app doesn’t completely break based on a single error. If you aren’t a coder, all you need to know is that PHP 7 does all this in order to point developers in the right direction and to usher in a higher standard of coding.
As well as making it more difficult to write poor code (which can make websites insecure), the new version of PHP also offers new security tools. These include cryptographically secure random numbers, and serialisation to prevent possible code injections.
You can either contact your hosting provider to ask for a PHP upgrade, or contact a specialist such as one of the Ambos Digital team to handle the upgrade smoothly on your behalf. PHP 7 isn’t backwards compatible, so a check will need to be carried out to make sure that there are no potential compatibility issues with your current website. If your site isn’t ready for PHP 7, you could face problems further down the line.