PHP 7 upgrade - Is your website ready?

A man working at an old computer

What is PHP 7?

As a website customer of Rouge, your website is built, in part using an open-source web development language call PHP (Personal Home Page, but now stands for the recursive backronym PHP: Hypertext Preprocessor). PHP is installed on the web server that’s managed by the hosting company that we partner with on your behalf.

PHP helps deliver the functionality to make your site and over 80% of the worlds websites work. It drives common content management systems like WordPress, Drupal, Magento and many others. Systems like Facebook and Wikipedia also rely heavily on PHP.

PHP is actively maintained by the open-source community that supports it. From time to time the team that develops PHP release updates to maintain the security of the language, introduce new features, and improve the overall performance.

PHP version lifespan

Each version of the PHP language is supported for a period of time whilst the next version is developed and made ready for use on live websites. Once the new version of the PHP language is ready for use, the support for the old version is gradually withdrawn as use of the new version increases.

PHP version 5.6 end of life

At the time of writing (November 2018) PHP version 5.6 is the current version and is used for most of the websites around the world and most that we support. However, the support for PHP 5.6 is being withdrawn and our hosting environments are being updated to PHP 7 in the New Year.  All websites that Rouge host on your behalf need to be PHP 7 compatible by 31st March 2019

What’s better about PHP 7?

PHP 7 is generally considered the most important revolution for PHP since the release of PHP 5 in 2004.

Performance – PHP 7 is significantly faster than PHP 5.6, in many cases able to handle twice as many visitors using the same hosting hardware. Where we’ve upgraded to PHP 7, in all cases we’ve seen a noticeable browsing speed increase as pages are delivered faster from the server.

Security – As you would imagine PHP 7 has been developed with security in mind and has a number of new security improvements. These get rather technical being programming specific, so we’ll stay out of the detail here!

What compatibility issues could my website face?

Any code that’s provided by the CMS vendor, community contributed plugins / modules, custom code developed by Rouge or custom code provided by another web developer, will need to be compatible with PHP 7.

  • WordPress Core
  • WordPress plugins
  • Drupal Core
  • Drupal modules
  • Bespoke development
  • 3rd party code provided not developed by Rouge

What does this mean for me?

Each and every site is different. Some sites are regularly updated by us under our support and maintenance agreements and as such will be more likely to be compatible with PHP 7, or take less work to make them compatible. Sites that have been live for some time and have not had the benefit of regular updates are likely to need significant work to either update them or potentially redevelop them if the base technology can’t be updated to work with PHP 7.

Contact us if you would like us to review the readiness of your website.

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