This month two widespread branches of PHP will reach the end of support. The first one is PHP 7.4, released on the 28th of November 2019, reached the end of active support a year ago and will stop receiving security support in 3 days, on the 28th of November, 2022. The second branch is PHP 8.0, released on the 26th of November 2020 and will reach the end of active support in 1 day on the 26th of November.
Despite the end of support, PHP 7.4 still stays one of the most popular programming languages. For example, according to the usage statistics provided by w3techs.com, 77.5% of the websites whose server-side programming languages they know use PHP. And as of today, 31.8% of the websites worldwide are using versions that belong to branch 7.4. In addition, 54.7% of the websites worldwide use 7.4 or older versions. As for PHP 8.0 - it is about ten times less popular. Only 3.2% of the websites are using it.
It looks like many websites will skip several language releases and jump straight from the seventh version to 8.1 or even newer, 8.2, which is expected to be released this December, changing the “tradition” to roll out new versions at the end of November.
Facing PHP 7.4 End of Life
To mitigate the risks associated with unsupported PHP versions reaching their End of Life (EOL), teams must consistently plan and execute PHP upgrades and migrations.
- Upgrading Your Application(s)
For teams with a limited number of applications or less intricate codebases, these upgrades and migrations might be straightforward, contingent upon the disparities between the original and target versions. However, for others, particularly those dealing with numerous applications or intricate code, planning migrations can become a more time-consuming endeavor.
It's crucial for teams undertaking the migration from PHP 7.4 to bear in mind that this marks the final PHP 7 minor release. This implies that there is no assurance of backward compatibility with the destination PHP version. Typically, major versions are released only when there are breaking changes to existing APIs exposed to consumers.
For teams strategizing PHP migrations or upgrades, maintaining a consistently audited and profiled set of applications is vital. This helps in understanding the impact of major version upgrades on the code base, the scope of migration for the team, and the potential repercussions for the overall business.
- Seeking Long-Term Support
For teams unable to migrate before PHP reaches its end of life, securing a reliable source of security patches becomes crucial to uphold the stability and security of their PHP applications.
Fortunately, third-party options for PHP long-term support are available, assisting teams in keeping their EOL PHP applications supported.
Self-support is another alternative for teams dealing with EOL PHP 7.4 applications. However, it's essential for teams opting for this approach to recognize its potential impact on their business. As mentioned earlier, developers focused on creating patches for Common Vulnerabilities and Exposures (CVEs) are developers not involved in developing new applications, enhancing existing ones, or contributing to the factors that would ease the next migration. While self-support may be a viable choice for larger enterprises with dedicated resources for in-house patch development, it is not a cost-effective option for the majority of companies.
The upcoming release may require significant changes for the sites, which will migrate to the new version since some features will be deprecated, such as Dynamic Properties, utf8_encode and utf8_decode functions, and others.
If you need professional assistance in updating and transitioning your websites or applications to a new version, please leave your contact information on the website for a comprehensive consultation.