Just like any other language PHP has been evolving and the new PHP7 is the end result of such evolution. Two major improvisations of the PHP7 include its high performance and increased speed. But web hosts are greatly reluctant to move forward with the new versions as they fear the threat of backward compatibility breaks that could make everything slow. How will PHP7 revolutionize things is the big question. You will find the answer as you read through.
New Features and Big improvements expected in PHP7 :
1. Huge Performance Improvements nearly 100% : With the rise in the number of followers on Facebook who have been looking at Facebook’s HHVM as an alternative to running PHP, the concern is definitely about the speed. HHVM is much faster compared to the older versions PHP 5.5/5.6. The threat of HHVM’s speed overtaking that of PHP5.5/5.6 led to continuous innovations and improvements to PHP which in turn have led to the performance boost of PHP7. The most vital feature of PHP 7 is its performance improvements due to majority of work done on its Zend Engine. (Zend Engine 3 with PHP 7)
2. Experimental JIT Engine : The JIT engine does dynamic translation just during the execution of a program. Currently the JIT is experimental and there are future plans about bringing a JIT engine to PHP7. The introduction of the JIT will definitely accelerate the performance drastically.
3. AST: Abstract Syntax Tree : One of the vital features is the addition of an Abstract Syntax Tree. This is an intermediate representation of the code during compilation. It often serves as an intermediate representation of the program through several stages that the compiler requires, and has a strong impact on the final output of the compiler.
4. Asynchronous Programming : In simple terms a single threaded event system works by arranging series of events in a single queue and then processing them one at a time by calling the appropriate event handler. Asynchronous Programming is an important feature in order to implement an event loop. An event loop is part of the code that handles events related to I/O operations and asynchronous tasks that may go on in parallel, for example tasks such as accesses to the network, files, databases etc..Addition of this feature will help in execution of parallel tasks within the same request, thus boosting PHP performance improvement considerably.
5. Standalone Multi-threading Web Server : Currently, it is possible that PHP can be run from multi-threaded Web servers; however it is different from having PHP run on its own multi-threading Web server. A multi-threading Web server can handle many simultaneous requests leveraging just one single memory pool, and avoiding the memory wastes. Regardless of running PHP as a standalone multi-threading Web server, it is not in the plan for PHP 7, but it is certainly something good that can be considered.
A Major Release – No new version between PHP5.6 and PHP7
PHP 7, a major update to server-side scripting as there have been a lot of glaring changes to the existing PHP version. PHP 7 will finally be able to indicate proper return types on functions. Also there is removal of artifacts, apart from this there is elimination of some existing features. There is deprecation of some old functionality that is not interesting anymore. Some features that have been depreciated are listed below:
1. Ext/ereg and ext.mysql have both been replaced by other extensions. Use of ext/pcre and use of ext/mysqli or ext/pdo_mysql instead respectively. PCRE provides better Unicode support and many more features
2. Other deprecated features include #stylecomments in .ini files use style comments instead
3. String category names in setlocale() is replaced by use of LC_* constants
4. A number of functions have also been depreciated. Function dl on fpm-fcgi has been removed. Function set_socket_blocking is replaced by the use of stream_set_blocking instead. These are a few examples from the depreciation list
5. Couple of language features that are no more in use are Assignment of new by reference, using use normal assignment instead. And the second being scoped calls of non-static methods from incompatible $this context
This release has really focused on serving real-world applications perform faster and on areas such as hash tables and memory allocation.
It would be unfair not to mention the developments of Facebook pushing HHVM and Hack which stimulated the development of PHP7. The latest developments of the PHP7 seem to be very exciting. Not only the addition of new features but its amazing performance and augmented speed are definitely going to take the PHP developers by awe! Keep looking forward to the new PHP 7 that is coming soon.