Migrating from PHP 5.6 to PHP 7

PHP 7 is the latest version of the popular programming language PHP. The new programming version was released in December 2015 and offers fast performance for websites and online applications.

Bringing explosive performance improvements, drastically reduced memory consumption and a host of brand-new language features to make your apps rise, the new PHP version handles more than twice as many requests per second.

This is the most important change for PHP since the release of PHP 5 in 2004.

Despite the fact that PHP 7.0 is a new major version, efforts have been made to make migration as painless as possible.

This new version focuses mainly on removing functionality deprecated in previous versions and on improving language consistency.

What Is New in PHP 7?

PHP 7 brings significant improvement in performance. Approximately twice as fast as PHP 5.6, PHP 7 can compete with Facebook’s Hip Hop Virtual Machine (HHVM). For Drupal users, PHP 7 offers even faster performance than HHVM and you don’t need to use a virtual machine to execute the PHP source code.

When PHP 7 runs on WordPress 4.1.1, it can execute twice as many requests per second as the same platform running PHP 5.6.

In addition to better performance, the new release brings some profound technical changes. You should familiarize yourself with these changes if you intend to switch over to using PHP 7 for your web development projects.

New features – Scalar type declarations

With the new PHP 7, we now have Scalar types: coercive (default) and strict. Specifically: int, float, string and bool.

By adding scalar type hints and enabling strict requirements, you can write more correct and self-documenting PHP programs. Also, this feature gives you more control over your code and can make the code easier to read. This is an important feature for all the PHP development teams.

How Do I Upgrade to PHP 7?

PHP 7 is the first major release of PHP in over a decade. Therefore, is not a real surprise that this upgrade comes with a few challenges. However, if you think about all the benefits that the new release brings – much faster performance and less overall demand on your web servers – it is well worth the effort of upgrading.

The first step is easy. You need to make sure that all libraries that your PHP project uses are available for PHP 7. You may have to hold off on upgrading for a while if the libraries do not yet support PHP 7.

If your code is written in PHP 5.5 or PHP 5.6, then upgrading will most likely be straightforward.

When you upgrade to PHP 7, make sure that your code includes tests, such as unit and integration tests. If there are any issues with your application, these tests will find the bugs before they show up in a live environment.

Upgrading your code from PHP 5.6 to PHP 7 involves carefully checking for incompatibilities in your libraries and your code but the benefits of upgrading to the new version make the effort very worthwhile.

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