After eight years in the making, and weeks of delay in the rollout, PHP 7 is finally here. The new version of the popular scripting language promises a 100-percent-plus improvement in performance of full-stack applications. Also worth noting is that the new version of the language is unlikely to support some PHP 4 functions, but could work seamlessly with PHP 5.
For the major release, the team has looked into several aspects of the language. PHP 7 is powered by a new engine called "phpng" which is company's attempt to compete with interpreters such as hhvm, which Facebook utilises. The new engine is focused on improving the way the language works with memory allocation, data structures, and data types. The core engine is now more optimised for CPU and memory. PHP 7 is claimed to have halved memory and CPU instructions compared to PHP 5.6.
For those wondering why the new version of the language is called PHP 7 - not PHP 6 - it is because the version 6.0 had been abandoned. The team behind the language decided to call the next version PHP 7 likely to avoid conflicts with the PHP 6 project. Recent stable versions of the programming language have been part of 5.x series. The team worked on PHP 6 between 2005 to 2010. It was expected to use Unicode as the primary encoding.
PHP 7 is based on abstract syntax tree, a tree-esque representation of the abstract syntactic structure of source code. This change will be much appreciated by developers who want to build add-on tools or perform profiling or static analysis. In addition, PHP 7 offers anonymous classes and return type and scalar type declarations.
The new version also gets rid off some unsupported Server APIs (SAPIs) and extensions, which means that the developers that were using them will have to remove any legacy code from their applications.
PHP is estimated to drive a large part of the Web, being the driving force behind Drupal, WordPress, Mediawiki, Joomla and many other popular content management systems (CMS).