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Are we ready — PHP 6

December 25th, 2007

As all know by now the core PHP group of developers have had a gettogther in Paris by the fag end of 2005. Though the meeting minutes are interesting to read, there is a long way to go. There are a lot to consider before we answer the above question. Popular ISPs may be reluctant for the immediate switch over, when most of them are considering the switch from stream 4 to stream 5. The backward-compatibility problems are a real headache for Web hosts and they are really concerned about this, not to mention that the break in compatibility between series 4 and 5 is already showing up as a pain, whereas the backward compatibility hole between 5 and 6 is expected to be even greater. Rasmus Lederof in his revealing mail has requested the whole team to do wonders which most of us wished php had. He has commented “Since we are breaking a lot of stuff in 6.0, at least with Unicode_semantics=On I am wondering if it may not be time to break some more stuff and do a bit of spring cleaning. It would mean many apps would need some work to work on PHP 6, but at the same time I think it is work people would welcome since it would mostly involve removing hacks instead of adding them. “. Well does this mean that we have some surprise in the php 6, probably. Anyway he admits that they are breaking a lot of stuff, and does that mean pulling out?

I did not get a chance till now to test drive php 6, neither did get a complete solid change log. Though from reading the meeting minutes, and comments from various others it seems to be a welcome move, Register Globals, Magic Quotes, Safe Mode all due for a retirement. Declaration of var in php 4 used to create alarms in php 5, but in 6 it is expected to have the same meaning, or even better will be equivalent to public in php 5. PHP6 is taking an interesting move as I visualize it – it's as if the PHP developers want now to educate developers about the right way to code something, and remove those lingering issues with “Well you SHOULD be doing it this way, but you can still do it the old way”. This will not be the case any longer. Removing totally the likes of register globals, magic quotes, long arrays, {} string indexes and call-time-pass-by-references will force developers to clean up their code. It will also break a crapload of scripts beyond repair that doesn't involve some serious re-writing. Is this a bad thing? I don't think so myself, but I see it making the adoption of PHP6 even slower than that of PHP5, which is a real shame. However they have to leap this hurdle at some point, and once they've done it progression to future versions should be swifter.


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