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Freek Van der Herten:
Converting PHP 7 code to equivalent PHP 5 code
Apr 01, 2016 @ 09:50:56

Freek Van der Herten has a post to his site about another new library he's worked on (along with two others) to help convert PHP 7 code back to PHP 5 code - 7to5.

In the JavaScript world converting modern code to an older syntax is quite common. In the PHP world you don’t see that happen often. Symfony provides a few [polyfills](https://github.com/symfony/polyfill), but a full fledged conversion isn’t available. At the meetup of [our local PHP user group](http://www.meetup.com/phpantwerp/) [Jens Segers](https://twitter.com/jenssegers), [Hannes Van de Vreken](https://twitter.com/hannesvdvreken) and I were toying around with the idea of converting PHP 7 code to equivalent PHP 5 code automatically.

Today our little hobby project called 7to5 was tagged 1.0.0. You can view the repo on GitHub.

He starts by talking about what the library does to backport the code from PHP 7 to PHP 5 and how to install/use the command line tool. He then gets into things "behind the curtains" with a sample PHP 7 class and the resulting PHP 5 code. They made use of the PHP Parser tool for processing the PHP code provided. It does matching on certain element types and performs the token replacement. He gives examples of this with the null coalesce operator replacement and scalar type hinting.

tagged: convert php7 php5 code tool 7to5 introduction library

Link: https://murze.be/2016/03/converting-php-7-code-equivalent-php-5-code/

Toptal Blog:
Introduction To PHP 7: What's New And What's Gone
Mar 14, 2016 @ 12:04:12

The Toptal blog has a new post talking about PHP 7 including some of the new things it includes (and what's gone from previous versions of the language).

One of the most exciting events in 2015 in the PHP world was the release of PHP 7, 10 years on from the release of the last major version, PHP 5. With a major step forward, PHP 7 introduces plenty of new features and performance upgrades. [...] This guide should serve as a quick tour on what to expect if you plan on moving your existing applications, or building new ones, on top of PHP 7.

He starts with a topic quite a few people wondered about - "where did PHP 6 go?". Following this he gets into some of the performance boosts that PHP 7 brings with it and updates to the "syntactic sugar" it offers developers to make their lives easier. He then gets in to the new features in this version like:

  • Scalar Parameter Types & Return Type Hints
  • Engine Exceptions
  • Anonymous Classes
  • CSPRNG Functions
  • Unicode Codepoint Escape Syntax

He finishes off the article looking at the migration from PHP 5 to PHP 7 and highlights some of the potential compatibility issues that could pop up during the migration.

tagged: php7 introduction features compatibility overview language php5

Link: https://www.toptal.com/php/php-7-performance-features

Freek Van der Herten:
A modern backup solution for Laravel apps
Mar 09, 2016 @ 11:15:54

As Freek Van der Herten mentions in this post to his site the latest release of the Laravel backup package has been released - version 3 - with some major improvements over previous releases.

Today our team released a new major version of laravel-backup. It can backup the files and databases of your application to one or more external filesystems. It uses Laravel’s native cloud filesystem to do this. The package can also notify you via Slack and/or email when something goes wrong with your backups. We’ve also created a dedicated site with full documentation. In this blogpost we want to give you some background of why and how the package was created.

They start out with a bit of history about the package, talking about how they created it to fill their own needs and how its risen in popularity since its release. Following this the post talks about new features in version 3 including:

  • Taking backups
  • Cleaning up old backups
  • Monitoring the health of all backups
  • Sending notifications

There's also some brief mentions of other new features around event hooks and adding additional information to the backup file. There's a bit of code shared to show the quality/readbility of the code and links over to various resources on the documentation site as well. Finally they mention some information about the use of the package in PHP 5 (it has become PHP 7 focused with this release) and some of the alternatives that are out there.

tagged: backup laravel package php7 release improvement features history php5

Link: https://murze.be/2016/03/a-modern-backup-solution-for-laravel-apps/

PHP 5.5.33, 5.6.19 & 7.0.4 Released
Mar 04, 2016 @ 12:38:49

The latest releases of all major (and minor versions) of the PHP language have been released with several bugfixes including correcting a few security issues: 5.5.33, 5.6.19 and 7.0.4.

The PHP development team announces the immediate availability of PHP [5.5.33, 5.6.19 and 7.0.4]. This is a security release in which two security bugs were fixed. All PHP users are encouraged to upgrade to this version.

You can find out more information about what changes were made in these releases in the PHP 5 Changlog and PHP 7 Changelog along with references to the related bug information. As always, you can download these latest releases from the main PHP.net site or your favorite mirror linked from the main downloads page. Windows users can get the latest binaries from windows.php.net.

tagged: language release php5 php7 bugfix security issue

Link: http://php.net/downloads

Johannes Schlüter:
More on references
Feb 23, 2016 @ 10:48:31

Johannes Schlüter has continued his series of posts with this second part looking more at reference handling in PHP (how they're handled "behind the scenes" that is).

In a few different places I saw comments about my last blog post about references and performance where commentators noted that my example was pointless. Which of course is true and to some degree the point.

I read a lot of PHP code and from time to time I see people with a non-PHP background (or otherwise influenced) putting references everywhere they pass arrays or such in order to prevent copies. I knew this was a bad practice in PHP 5 and wanted to verify this in PHP 7.

In the post he talks about passing references to methods and how it can lead to less clarity in the resulting code. He also wonders about the situation when you don't actually want to modify the variable passed in and making copies (losing any performance gain). He suggests that using references should only come when you know exactly how the value will be used in the method, not casually or just for performance reasons.

tagged: references php5 clear code php7 copy

Link: http://schlueters.de/blog/archives/181-More-on-references.html

Johannes Schlüter:
References - Still bad in PHP 7
Feb 19, 2016 @ 09:18:45

Johannes Schlüter has a post to his site that talks about references in PHP 7 and how they're "still bad" based on some of his previous findings.

I'm known for telling "Don't use references" (also as video) as those cause different problems (i.e. with foreach) and hurt performance. The reason for the performance loss is that references disable copy-on-write while most places in PHP assume copy-on-write. Meanwhile we have PHP 7. In PHP 7 the internal variable handling changed a lot among other things the reference counting moved from the zval, the container representing a variable, to the actual element. So I decided to run a little test to verify my performance assumption was still valid.

He includes his testing code that calls a function (strlen) in a loop and compares the handling against two methods, one passing by reference the other not. The results are shown in time taken to execute. He compares the results for PHP 5 and PHP 7, noting that PHP 7 is marginally better when passed by value, by-reference is still about the same.

tagged: reference php7 php5 compare value byreference byvalue test benchmark execution

Link: http://schlueters.de/blog/archives/180-References-Still-bad-in-PHP-7.html

Remi Collet:
PHPUnit code coverage benchmark
Nov 09, 2015 @ 11:57:33

Remi Collet has a quick review of some of the performance results from running the Composer PHPUnit tests on PHP 5 versus PHP 7.

As already said numerous time, PHP 7 is faster than PHP 5. Since PHPUnit 4.8 you can choose between XDebug and phpdbg as driver to retrieve code coverage data, see PHPUnit 4.8: Code Coverage Support.

Here is some benchmark results. All the tests are run using PHPUnit 5.0.8, PHP 5.6.15 as SCL or PHP 7.0.0RC6 as SCL and XDebug 2.4.0beta1 (freshly released, with some additional patches) for the composer test suite.

He shows the results in execution time and memory used for PHP 5 versus PHP 7 versions, both with and without code coverage being generated. He also includes two examples of running the tests with PHP 7, once using the XDebug debugger and one using phpdbg.

tagged: remicollet phpunit composer coverage benchmark php5 php7

Link: http://blog.remirepo.net/post/2015/11/09/PHPUnit-code-coverage-benchmark

SitePoint PHP Blog:
Randomness in PHP – Do You Feel Lucky?
Oct 29, 2015 @ 13:52:24

The SitePoint PHP blog has a post from author Nicola Pietroluongo talking about randomness in PHP. In the tutorial he talks about randomness, how it relates to cryptography and what's coming in PHP 7 to help.

This article analyzes problems related to random number generation used for cryptography purposes. PHP 5 does not provide an easy mechanism for generating cryptographically strong random numbers, while PHP 7 solves this by introducing a couple of CSPRNG functions.

He starts off by talking about what a CSPRNG (cryptographically secure pseudorandom number generator) is and some of the things it could be used for. He then moves on to the functionality coming in PHP 7 with the addition of the random_* functions for getting random bytes and random integer values. He talks briefly about what's going on "behind the scenes" of the generation and provides a simple code example with a randomized "dice roll" and the resulting numbers. He ends the post mentioning the random_compat library that can be installed for pre-PHP 7 applications that provides the same functionality just without those two functions defined.

tagged: random generation csprng number generator tutorial php7 php5 randomcompat

Link: http://www.sitepoint.com/well-do-ya-punk/

Lorna Mitchell:
PHP: Calling Methods on Non-Objects
Oct 19, 2015 @ 10:53:57

In a quick post to her site Lorna Mitchell describes a small difference in error messaging that's changed between PHP versions when trying to call methods on non-objects between versions 5.5, 5.6 and the upcoming PHP 7.

PHP has subtly changed the wording of this error between various versions of the language, which can trip up your log aggregators when you upgrade so I thought I'd give a quick rundown of the changes around the "call to member function on non-object" error in PHP, up to and including PHP 7 which has an entirely new error handling approach.

She includes examples of the error messages for PHP 5.5 and 5.6, differing only in how they report back the type of the variable the method was called on (one gets more specific). In PHP 7, however, the message is different because of the major overhaul that error handling has gotten. The new Error inheritance model still has it throw a fatal but it also notes it's an uncaught error which can be caught with the same try/catch as any other exception.

tagged: object error message version php5 php7 example output uncaught

Link: http://www.lornajane.net/posts/2015/php-calling-methods-on-non-objects

Tony Marston:
Please do not break our language
Jan 15, 2015 @ 09:40:25

Tony Marston has posted a plea to the core developers of the PHP language when it comes to some of the changes happening with constructors in classes: "please do not break our language."

This post is addressed to PHP's core developers who are proposing to break our beloved language yet again in the next major version of PHP (version 7) by removing functionality which has worked perfectly for years simply because it does not fit in with their ideas of how it should be done today. I am talking about PHP RFC: Remove PHP 4 Constructors (and this post on php.internals) which proposes that all code with PHP 4 style constructors be made invalid in favour of the "correct" method which was introduced in PHP 5. This is despite the fact that both types of constructor have lived quite happily side by side for over a decade and that large volumes of code, including PEAR libraries, were written in the PHP 4 style.

He suggests that this kind of change would require quite a bit of code to be changed, causing headaches for a large audience out there using older PHP code. He then gets into some of his opinions and thoughts about who "owns" PHP - is it the core development team working on the language itself, the community that uses the language (or a combination of both)? He proposes two definitions of "improvement" in respect to the needs of developers using the language and core developers. He suggests that the core developers are changing the language "just because they can" and that breaking backwards compatibility with something like this is a big mistake.

He then shares some of the comments from the php.internals mailing list on the subject of the constructor change, both for and against. He also points out a few other places where backwards compatibility was broken and the resulting changes that had to be made by developers. He suggests a "if it ain't broke, don't fix it" kind of approach

If there is a choice between a lazy or incompetent core developer doing only half a job and leaving the 240 million members of the greater PHP community to clear up his mess, then it should be obvious to anyone who has more than two brain cells to rub together that it is the core developer who needs to put in the extra effort so that the greater PHP community does not have to.
tagged: language opinion backwards compatibility break constructor php4 php5

Link: http://www.tonymarston.net/php-mysql/please-do-not-break-our-language.html