'Lightning-fast' PHP 7 speeds to beta

The new upgrade to PHP is feature-complete, but users are warned not to use it in production yet

PHP 7.0.0, which has been billed as a lightning-fast upgrade to the popular server-side scripting language for Web development, has proceeded to a beta stage of release.

While the php.net website cautions that the release is still a development preview and not for use in production, the beta version marks the feature-complete phase. "From now on, fundamental changes are not to be expected. What's more, this release brings over 200 commits with about 25 reported bug fixes, as well as security, stability and other improvements," php.net said late last week.

Version 7.0.0 also uses "about two-thirds of the memory (than it did previously), which means you may often get three times the throughput as PHP 5.6," said Andi Gutmans, CEO of PHP tools vendor Zend Technologies, in an email. Equipped with a new version of the Zend Engine, the core scripting engine for PHP, version 7.0.0 is as much as twice as fast as PHP 5.6, according to php.net. Recently, PHP founder Rasmus Lerdorf positioned the upgrade as a "green" option that reduces the need for server deployment.

In addition to speed, the upgrade offers consistent 64-bit support, anonymous classes, return type and scalar type declarations, and removal of old and unsupported server API and extensions. Also, many fatal errors are now exceptions. "It enables better error handling in applications," Gutmans said. "So more graceful error messages for the user and better ability to log issues." Previously, Gutman has emphasized version 7's benefits to "real world" applications.

A second beta release is planned for July 23, with the final release due November 12. Php.net encourages users to test the new version and report any bugs or incompatibilities in the bug tracking system.

Copyright © 2015 IDG Communications, Inc.

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