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Derick Rethans:
On Backwards Compatibility and not Being Evil
August 22, 2014 @ 09:20:55

Derick Rethans has shared some of his thoughts on how to not be evil when it comes to making changes in languages like PHP. He suggests that any backwards compatibility break should be treated with the weight it deserves and not just thrust upon users.

This is a repost of an email I sent to PHP internals as a reply to: "And since you're targetting[sic] the next major release, BC isn't an issue." This sort of blanket statements that "Backwards Compatibility is not an issue" with a new major version is extremely unwarranted. Extreme care should be taken when deciding to break Backwards Compatibility. It should not be "oh we have a major new version so we can break all the things"

He talks about the two kinds of backwards compatibility breaks: obvious things where features are removed or changed in a major way and subtle changes in how the underlying code for PHP works ("subtle changes"). He points out that most of the frustrations from users comes from the second type, making for a slower adoption rate and maybe not even adopting at all.

Can I please urge people to not take Backwards Compatibility issues so lightly. Please think really careful when you suggest to break Backwards Compatibility, it should only be considered if there is a real and important reason to do so.
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evil backwards compatibility break major version opinion

Just a warning, 5.5.13 introduces a backwards incomaptability
June 02, 2014 @ 11:56:16

In this recent post to, they point out a recent change in the core of PHP that could cause problems with backward compatibility: a change in the serialization handling to check for implementation of the Serializable interface.

Strings requiring unserialization of objects are now explicitly checked whether the object they contain implements the Serializable interface. This solves the situation where manipulated strings could be passed for objects using Serializable to disallow serialization. An object implementing Serializable will always start with "C:" in the serialized string, all other objects are represented with starting "O:". Objects implementing Serializable to disable serialization using zend_class_unserialize_deny and zend_class_serialize_deny, when instantiated from the serializer with a manipulated "O:" string at the start, will most likely be defectively initialized. This is now fixed at the appropriate place by checking for the presence of the serialize callback in the class entry.

The change corrects a bug that has been used, in certain cases, as a work-around to create objects without calling the constructor. The correct fix for it, if you're using it in your own applications, is to call ReflectionObject::newInstanceWithoutConstructor.

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backwards compatibility break serialize


Anthony Ferrara:
An Opinion On The Future Of PHP
March 10, 2014 @ 09:41:40

In his latest post Anthony Ferrara shares some of his personal opinions about the future of PHP and how some of the pieces in play now might fit in.

There's been a lot of buzz in the community lately around PHP and its future. The vast majority of this buzz has been distinctly positive, which is awesome to hear. There's been a lot of talk about PHP6 and what that might look like. There's been a lot of questions around HHVM and its role in the future of the language and community. Well, let me share with you some of my thoughts in this space...

He covers a few different topics including backwards compatibility, the suggestions of a complete engine rewrite and turning the SPL all OOP. He spends most of the post talking about HHVM (the HipHop VM), how it compares to "plain old PHP" and why it's not exactly "magic".

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opinion future language hhvm hack engine backwards compatibility


Till's Blog:
A case for PEAR and PHP4 (Or, why BC is important!)
September 23, 2009 @ 11:11:34

In this new post to his blog till argues his case for PEAR and why support for PHP4 is a good thing when it comes to making things "just work."

Every once in someone likes to argue that PEAR is all fugly PHP4 code and why you should not use it, and instead go and use another framework or component library. Most of those people also say that they looked at or used PEAR x years ago and then act all surprised when someone else disagrees.

He talks about some of the rules around the major/minor PEAR releases and backwards compatibility breaks which, thankfully, a lot of other projects seem to adhere to. He points out that some packages have been started for different PHP generations (Mail_Queue2 vs Mail_Queue) and a few reasons why the PHP4 EON doesn't automatically mean PEAR should follow suit.

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pear backwards compatibility php4

Cyberlot's Blog:
Another PHP BC break
November 21, 2005 @ 05:45:50

On cyberlot's blog today, he mentions some additional backwards compatibility bugs that PHP 5.1 and 4.4.1 are adding into the mix.

As of PHP 5.1 and in seems 4.4.1 are adding another BC break one that could break anyone using a object based database library within there custom session handler, and also make any registered shutdown function useless if it relys on objects, although the bugs focus on the session aspect of things.

This isn't something you can just "Document" away like they are trying to do.

Basically they are saying any user made or PHP made object is useless during the shutdown phase of PHP.

I could definitely see this issue causing some headaches for a lot of people out there. For more information on this issue, check out the bug report he refers to...

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backwards compatibility break 5.1 4.4.1 backwards compatibility break 5.1 4.4.1

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