Despite some myths to the contrary, Hypertext Preprocessor is still a prevalent programming language and the most widely used on the web. Fundamentally, PHP is an open-source server-side scripting language embedded within Hyper Text Markup Language to develop dynamic web pages. As of October 2023, PHP is relied on by nearly 77% of websites.
For businesses, developers, and anyone working in web environments, it’s essential to understand how PHP is evolving so you can update applications and remain secure, performant, and compatible.
Enter PHP 8.2.
What Is New in PHP 8.2?
PHP 8.0 has already introduced many updates, including adding a just-in-time compiler for improved performance and support for declaring multiple union types for parameters and return values. So, what are the key features and improvements introduced in PHP 8.2?
• The read-only variables were introduced in 8.1, and now the class can also be read-only.
• Standalone types have been introduced, allowing true, false, and null.
• Disjunctive normal form types are supported, combining union and intersection types to declarations.
• Sensitive parameters will not be listed in backtraces, allowing easier integration with a third party.
• Both mysqli_execute_query and mysqli::execute_query make running parameterized MySQL Improved queries easier.
• This Request for Comments proposes to allow the use of ->/?-> to fetch properties of enums in constant expressions.
• PHP 8.2 allows constants in traits, making it easier to reuse code across classes.
What Might the Challenges of Upgrading Be?
Different teams will face slightly different hurdles as they update PHP environments, but there are a few primary areas where you’ll likely encounter roadblocks.
Compatibility is a big one. The code might need to be rewritten and thoroughly tested. Custom code compatibility issues might extend to third-party libraries and community code as well, which might not yet be compatible with 8.2.
Integration is another challenge. Any sites or applications involving more than one layer of integration points could be met with challenges. With the upgrade, the server configuration must be updated; incorrect configuration can lead to runtime errors and instability.
Downtime and instability might also prove to be complications. Security vulnerabilities could exist while the upgrade is in progress or becomes delayed. If the upgrade isn’t done correctly, it creates further application downtime.
Additionally, even though official support for PHP 7.4 ended as of November 2022, many websites still accommodate PHP 7.4 due to its complexity. If you’re currently moving from PHP 7.4 to PHP 8, these compatibility, instability, and integration challenges could be even more troublesome for your website.
If you’re migrating from PHP 8 to PHP 8.2, these challenges will likely come up, but not to the extent that users moving from PHP 7.4 to PHP 8 might experience them.
What Should Teams Prioritize When Updating PHP Environments?
Familiarize yourself with what is new in PHP 8.2 and learn how to update PHP in WordPress environments and others. Here are some of the tools and tactics you’ll need.
• A Strategic Plan
The first phase of the plan should be to update from PHP 7.0 to PHP 8. Even though the public deadline has passed, many hosting platforms have extended support for 7.4 due to the complexity of the upgrade. The next phase of the plan should be to tweak that major upgrade to the new PHP 8.2 features.
• A Testing Environment
Create a separate testing environment mirroring production and run all the testing on this environment before you make any changes to production. Perform comprehensive testing, including regression testing, using manual and automated tests.
• A Backup and Rollback Strategy
You’ll need a system for backing up data before making changes. Remember that downtime might be required; understanding the scale of this ahead of time is wise. In addition, develop and document a clear rollback plan. Having complete documentation helps reduce potential errors.
• Continuous Monitoring
Incremental updates and careful monitoring should go hand in hand. If you can continuously monitor application performance, error rates, and security events, you can avoid issues and stay compatible and compliant. Monitoring will also help you ensure that security updates and vulnerabilities are addressed.
You will need to identify what needs to be updated based on your code compatibility, including custom code built in-house and third-party or community code such as plug-ins or modules. Consider backward compatibility if the upgrade does not go smoothly the first time.
How Can Ndevr Help?
The Ndevr team has extensive and diverse experience in PHP environments. If you are updating PHP in WordPress and other sites, Ndevr can help you do that effectively and safely. The team is already set up to plan and execute the process. We’ve got your back with:
• Technical insight
Ndevr is well-versed in the new PHP 8.2 features, so we can provide expert technical guidance, including identifying compatibility issues, suggesting code improvements, and optimizing performance. This also means that we can assist you in the planning stage, helping you set milestones, allocate resources, and estimate timelines.
• Risk assessment
We know the industry and can identify potential risks and challenges very quickly. From here, we can help you develop mitigation strategies to address these risks before they become problems. This proactive approach minimizes unexpected setbacks.
• Industry best practices
Our experience includes wide-ranging knowledge of the PHP ecosystem. This means we can follow the latest best practices for software development, including version control, code review, and automated testing.
Contact Ndevr today for help updating PHP in WordPress and other web applications.