After version 5.7, the next major version of PHP is 7 which reflects a huge jump in terms of features and other capabilities. Just like in the case of any major version, multiple features have been added and existing problems fixed. Still, software developers are divided over effectiveness of the new version which was released in 2015.The critics, for example, raise doubts over backward compatibility issues. However, majority of software developers find strong reasons to upgrade to version 7. Even after factoring a few inconsistencies and issues, PHP 7 is a power-packed language.

Given below are 10 strong reasons why you should be upgrading to PHP 7.

Higher load capacity

The huge upward shift in performance has been brought about by changes introduced as phpng. The changes in performance will enable hosts, especially the smaller ones to adopt PHP 7 smoothly. The hosts will also be able to host more customers using the same hardware. The changes in performance has brought PHP 7 at par with the Facebook HHVM which features a Just In Time (JIT) compiler that compiles PHP code right down to the machine instructions.

In addition to high performance, you can expect significant memory savings because substantial optimization has been carried out in the internal data structures.

Scalar Type Hints & Return Types

The passage of this feature was not smooth. There were multiple RFCs which kind of threatened to derail the feature on its way to implementation but finally it found its way to implementation. What does this feature mean for the end-users? As an end user, you can now type-hint with scalar types: integer, Boolean, float and string. By default, the type value specified by you will be validated depending on the type-hint specification. For example, if you pass int(1) into a function that requires a float value, it will be automatically changed to float (1.0). Conversely, if you pass float(1.5) into a function that requires an integer value, the value will be automatically changed into int(1).

Combined Comparison Operator

The Combined Comparison Operator, used as <=>, is also known as the Spaceship Operator feature. The feature nicely complements the greater-than and less-than operators. The operator returns -1 if the left operand is smaller in value than the right operand, 0 if both operands are equal and 1 if the left operand is greater than the right operand. This feature can be used on floats, integers and arrays.

Asynchronous programming support

PHP 7 supports simultaneous execution of asynchronous tasks. With PHP 7, you can do asynchronous programming and tasks such as, networks, access to database, timers and perform events related I/O operations by putting in place a single PHP event-loop. By the way, the Facebook Hack language for HHVM already supports asynchronous programming. PHP-based servers can also handle simultaneous requests from a single memory pool because PHP 7 supports standalone multi-threading.

Suited for mobile devices

Business organizations need to offer better value propositions to the mobile user base. In this context, PHP 7 offers exactly what businesses need to do to cater to the needs of mobile device users. For example, PHP 7 offers reduced memory usage, execution engine improvements and native local threat storage. These features are specifically suited to mobile devices that have limited browsing features. PHP 7 also contributes to the mission of creating a greener planet by reducing energy consumption because it provides the ability to handle more traffic with the same server resources.

Higher performance

PHP 7 has demonstrated higher data processing and load-taking capabilities than its predecessors. A number of tests were conducted as part of a comparison between PHP 7 and HHVM, which is considered the rival of PHP 7 on different content management systems. The results are given below:

Figure 1 shows that when PHP 7 runs on WordPress 4.1.1, it enables the system to execute twice as many requests as PHP 5.6.

PHP 7 runs on WordPress 4.1.1

Figure 1: Showing performance changes

Figure 2 shows when PHP 7 runs on Drupal 8, it enables the system to execute 37% more requests than HHVM and 80% more requests than PHP 5.5 and PHP 5.6.

Good for business

From the perspective of business, PHP 7 offers clear advantages over its predecessors as demonstrated by the case study of Etsy, the peer-to-peer e-commerce giant. Etsy’s technology infrastructure had been struggling to handle millions of visits to the website daily. Etsy needed to make sure that its new internal API handles more computing requests without consuming too much power and allows Etsy to reduce their operational expenses. After Etsy adopted HHVM to run its PHP applications, the performance improved significantly.

Good for online business

PHP 7 is especially good for businesses that have a large online presence, such as ecommerce giants. PHP 7 is at par with HHVM when it comes to providing great performance, resilience and optimal utilization and enjoys a slight edge when it comes to WordPress setups.

Lesser memory usage

PHP 7 has demonstrated that technology infrastructure can process higher computing requests without consuming proportionately higher memory. The image below shows a test that was conducted on an Ubuntu Utopic package 5.5.12, PHP 7 consumed 30.879 MB of memory while PHP 5.6 consumed 134.844 MB during peak memory usage. The image also provides other important parameters.

Lesser memory usage

Figure 2 : Showing system information

Platform independence

The Zend engine that powers PHP 7 has the ability to implement the JIT execution capabilities. This capability enables the developers to directly send instructions to the compiler on any platform without needing to convert the instructions based on the type of platform. This rids the developers of a huge, unnecessary task of converting instructions to customise them for platforms.

There is no doubt that PHP 7 represents huge improvements over its predecessors. However, it is no easy task to switch from the existing system to PHP 7. Large environments such as those of Etsy and Wikimedia Foundation took over 6 months to  switch and start working smoothly. So, you should expect issues for a while until things calm down.

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