PHP; it seems to be the driving force behind a great many websites on the Net, from the humblest of blogs to some of the major applications we use everyday. And yet I’m flummoxed by the continued use of version 4. All of the code I’ve written recently requires PHP 5 or above, and the reasons are plain to see.
Firstly, PHP 4 is old. It was released way back in 2000 and has since reached version 4.4, but ultimately it’s long in the tooth. It’s missing many of the new features in 5 and can barely claim to be an object-orientated language. The final nail in the coffin however is that Zend, makers of PHP, are going to stop development come the end of this year, with support following eight months later. Hopefully this will force all of those slow web hosts dotted around the Net to update to the latest version.
The new and improved features of PHP 5 should have been enough to make most users switch without hesitation. I’ve recently started programming in OOP and as soon as I began I realised that PHP 4 just couldn’t cut it. It fails in almost every regard when it comes to basic object handling, whereas 5 follows other languages much more closely. Even if you don’t use OOP the new version has more than enough updates to warrant upgrading, with numerous functions added that just simplify code across the board along with performance enhancements on many common tasks.
As such, when I started my latest major project (still under wraps), I decided to forgo supporting PHP 4 in favour of making something that was faster, more powerful and much simpler in code. Of course I’m going to cut a slice of my possible market out, but at the end of the day the potential number of extra users just isn’t worth the increase in time and effort it would take for me to use PHP 4. Sure some apps will stay behind to support PHP 4 for as long as possible, but I feel they’re just holding themselves and their users back.
To all those who continue to run version 4, what are you waiting for? PHP 6 is slated to be released sometime around the decommission of version 4 showing just how far the language has come in such a short amount of time. Naturally it’s going to be a few more years before everyone moves to the latest incarnation, but I’m just letting you all know, I no longer support PHP 4.