We are fiercely competitive and put a lot of effort into ensuring that our clients’ websites outperform their competitors’ websites. Because of that, we have spent hours days making sure all of our client sites are compatible with PHP 7—and we did it on our dime, not theirs. With the recent release of PHP 7, our web team thoroughly researched to ensure that we are well-versed on what these changes mean for the future of our websites and implemented a strategy for our current and future WordPress clients to take full advantage of the improvements provided by PHP 7. Not sure what PHP 7 or any of this “compatibility” talk means? Keep reading to find out.
Most people have never heard of PHP (so don’t feel bad). PHP is a server-side scripting language designed to generate HTML pages upon request. In English, that means that a 3-step process occurs:
- Input: A developer enters a set of commands written in the form of a PHP script, as the input to the PHP Engine.
- Processing: The PHP Engine executes the script on the server.
- Output: The output is an HTML page that’s rendered by the web browser.
Before we go any further, here are some other important definitions relating to PHP:
- PHP Engine: The Engine acts as the brain, executing the instructions that reside in the PHP script. It does this with the help of the server that it’s running on. The PHP Engine is perhaps the most crucial component. It affects the speed, performance and reliability of your website.
- Server: This is where your WordPress site is hosted, or where it lives. If there were to ever be a host that didn’t have PHP installed, WordPress wouldn’t be able to run on it.
- Output HTML: When a WordPress website is loaded, the PHP engine is engaged. Scripts are run by the PHP engine using the server. The final HTML is exported to the visitor’s web browser. (This is the part that you see.)
So, What is PHP 7?
PHP was originally released in 1994 by Rasmus Lerdorf, in an effort to make updating his personal homepage easy. Since then, it has evolved to power more than 82% of all websites! Every few years, PHP releases an update. The first was released in 1995, 2.0 was released in 1997, 3.0 was released in 1998 and version 4.0 came out in 2000.
Version 5.0 was released in 2004, but then things got interesting. Version 5 went through multiple iterations and variations. This went on for ten years, with version 5.6 releasing in 2014. Because of this, the committee in charge of PHP decided to skip version 6.0 and head straight to 7.0 for the next release. By this point, the world had to wait 12 years for the release of PHP 7.
What Makes PHP 7 Worth The Wait
While the wait was long, PHP 7 brought some upgrades that will greatly improve how websites perform. They are:
- Superior bandwidth- Meaning that it can handle a higher number of requests per second. PHP 7 performed nearly twice as well as PHP 5.6, and ran 2.18 times the number of requests per second at less than half the latency (more on that in a second).
- Lower latency- Latency is the amount of time elapsed between the first request and the first response between the server and client. Lower latency means a better user experience for your website visitors.
- WordPress loves it- WordPress (which is the platform upon which we build and host all of our sites) is completely optimized for PHP 7. This means our sites run better and offer a better experience for both the front and back end.
- Optimized memory- This is mostly for developers, but what you need to know is that PHP 7 requires fewer instructions to execute a task. For perspective, one WordPress request on PHP 5.6 executes in 100 million CPU instructions. Whereas in PHP 7, the same request is executed in 25 million CPU instructions.
- Gains- Performance gains, that is. According to the people at WordPress, PHP 7 runs about 6.6 times faster than its predecessor.
- Security improvements- Each released branch of PHP is fully supported for two years from its initial stable release. This means that during that period, bugs and security issues that have been reported are fixed with regular updates. PHP 7 offers significant security improvements over PHP 5.6. We know that in today’s world, hackers are a legitimate concern, and we want to do everything we can to protect your site.
What This Means for Our Sites
By making the transition from PHP 5.6 to PHP 7, expect to see impressive performance improvements thanks to its new Zend Engine 3.0, including:
- 2-3x increased site speed
- 30-50% improvements in memory consumption
- Ability to serve up to 3x as many requests per second
- Lower technical debt with ongoing support of of bug fixes, security patches, and maintenance updates for years to come
While this transition sounds like it’s overwhelming, you don’t need to lose sleep over it. If you host with us, we did it for you!
What About My Plugins?
If you host with us, they’ve been taken care of. If you don’t, use the PHP 7 Compatibility Checker to check your plugins. This Plugin helps WordPress website owners understand their site readiness to update to PHP 7 by telling them helpful information about why a particular plugin or theme is not compatibility with PHP 7. But don’t worry, if you have any questions about this, our team can answer.
What if I Don’t Host with You?
If you don’t host with us, we can still help you! We want to share the knowledge we gained through our research. Give us a call today and we’ll have coffee to talk about it..
Still have questions about PHP 7? We can help! Just send us a message, email or text and we will be happy to discuss the questions you have.