[development] Go PHP 5, Go!

Larry Garfield larry at garfieldtech.com
Wed Jun 6 05:25:02 UTC 2007

This is a follow-up to the PHP 5 thread from a week or two ago.  It looks like 
some momentum is building.  Ken Rickard, Robert Douglas, and I have been 
talking with some of the Jooma folks, and have a working draft of the "core 
statement and justification".  That is, what the goal is and why it is.  
Joomla's development team is discussing the matter and is leaning yes.  Based 
on the earlier thread here I am hoping that there isn't much objection to 
Drupal participating in the "Go PHP5" effort. :-)  So far Joomla is leaning 
yes, CakePHP is interested, and I had a positive first response from Typo3.  
Robert Douglas has volunteered himself to setup a web site for it.

I'm not sure how Dries wants to handle the question of Drupal's participation 
(by vote, by consensus, or by fiat).  Dries?  

Anyway, here's the working statement.  Consider this an official 
recommendation that Drupal commit to participating in this effort.

PHP 4 has served the web developer community for seven years now, and served 
it well.  However, it also shows its age.  Most of PHP 4's shortcomings have 
been addressed by PHP 5, released three years ago, but the transition from 
PHP 4 to PHP 5 has been slow for a number of reasons.

PHP developers cannot leverage PHP 5's full potential without dropping support 
for PHP 4, but PHP 4 is still installed on a majority of shared web hosts and 
users would then be forced to switch to a different application.  Web hosts 
cannot upgrade their servers to PHP 5 without making it impossible for their 
users to run PHP 4-targeted web apps, and have no incentive to go to the 
effort of testing and deploying PHP 5 while most web apps are still 
compatible with PHP 4 and the PHP development team still provides maintenance 
support for PHP 4.  The PHP development team, of course, can't drop 
maintenance support for PHP 4 while most web hosts still run PHP 4.  

It is a dangerous cycle, and one that needs to be broken.  The open source PHP 
developer community has decided that it is indeed now time to move forward, 
together.  Therefore, the listed open source PHP projects have all agreed 
that effective 5 February 2008, any new feature release will have a minimum 
required PHP version no older than PHP 5.2.0.  It is our believe that this 
will allow web hosts a reason to upgrade and the PHP development team the 
ability to retire PHP 4 and focus efforts on PHP 5 and the forthcoming PHP 6, 
all without penalizing any existing project for being "first out of the 

- I chose the date because I figure that will be 7-8 months after we 
officially announce this thing, which I believe should be sufficient time for 
web hosts.  It also comes out to 5/2/2008 (using European convention), and I 
just like inside references like that. :-)
- This does not preclude any project from moving before the deadline date, or 
from supporting older versions for however long they wish to.  That's up to 
each project.  
- PHP 5.2 is already the most widely installed version of PHP 5, based on the 
latest published stats.  I know at least two web hosts I work with that 
either have jumped or are in the process of jumping from PHP 4 straight to 
PHP 5.2.  By the target date it will have been out for nearly a year and a 
half.  It also adds a number of new and useful core features (filter_input, 
json, a stable PDO, etc.).  It's a good version to target.

Thoughts?  Comments?  Support?  Rotten tomatoes?

Larry Garfield			AIM: LOLG42
larry at garfieldtech.com		ICQ: 6817012

"If nature has made any one thing less susceptible than all others of 
exclusive property, it is the action of the thinking power called an idea, 
which an individual may exclusively possess as long as he keeps it to 
himself; but the moment it is divulged, it forces itself into the possession 
of every one, and the receiver cannot dispossess himself of it."  -- Thomas 

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