PHP 5.6 version update

Alexander van Steen, October 15, 2015

At Savvii we like to use the latest techniques. This time it’s about the latest stable PHP version. Besides the new functions, which are available in the update, PHP 5.6 is actively maintained. This is of course very good for security.

If you are already one of our customers, you may know that many of our servers still run on PHP 5.4. This version is no longer officially supported. Therefore it is time for an update.

Possible versions

We tried out what we could expect after upgrading from 5.4 to 5.5 and what upgrading to 5.6 would mean for us. Of course, it is important to see if an upgrade can cause problems and if WordPress works well with PHP 5.5 or 5.6. There can always be problems if you simply migrate the servers.

We also found out what the support of the PHP Core Team is like and what to expect in the future. The active development of PHP 5.5 is now stopped and only security problems are patched. In the next ten months this should also come to an end.

The latest stable version is PHP 5.6, which is currently halfway through the active Development LifeCycle. New things will be added and security issues will be patched for the coming year and ten months.

What comes after 5.6? We already know that 5.6 will be the last PHP 5.x version. It is very complex, but the next version will be PHP 7. Version 6 will be skipped. PHP 7 will be officially released later this year. However, we expect the transition from 5.6 to 7 to take a little longer. This is especially true for WordPress.

Our choice

We have decided to migrate directly to PHP 5.6. What impact will this have on you as a customer? Your site will continue to run on PHP 5.4 if you don’t make any changes yourself.

We will take the first steps to upgrade all servers to PHP 5.6 in the near future. We will personally inform you about this. Of course, we will work with you to help you if this causes any problems on your part.

If you have a VPS with us, we can upgrade it now from PHP 5.4 to 5.6. It is important that you test your site first on a development environment and make sure that the sites work on PHP 5.6.

I already want to use PHP 5.6 on Savvii. What should I do?

Do you have a VPS package? Just let us know that you want to use PHP 5.6. Send us a ticket and we’ll schedule the upgrade.

We will also update customers with a shared package in the near future. Do you want to upgrade faster? Then contact us to discuss the options.

What can I do myself to test my site?

Use development environments that use PHP 5.6. If you use Vagrant, you can easily delete all PHP 5.4/5.5 packages and install the new 5.6 packages.

You can also use phpcs (PHP Code Sniffer) to analyze your code. A lot of work has been put into checking forward and backward compatibility. However, it is impossible to do this 100% waterproof. There will always be parts that cannot be checked and there will be false positives. This is a starting point, but this is no excuse for not testing well.

Code Standard: https://github.com/wimg/PHPCompatibility

Cannot control all potential problems
Possibly also false-positives

False positives arise for example from the core of WordPress or plug-ins, which use certain functions, but only with backwards compatibility. In new PHP versions the new methods and variables are used.

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