Hold Off On PHP 8 – For Now
May 6, 2021
PHP 8 is the latest version of this popular, general purpose scripting language that powers many websites. WordPress websites – which make up roughly one-third of all sites on the web – are powered by PHP. Our own NMD System, including our custom eCommerce solution, is also powered by PHP. It is an extremely powerful and versatile coding language.
While in general, we always recommend upgrading to the latest version of any software – including your desktop and smart device operating systems, WordPress updates, and our own system – there are occasions when it's prudent to hold off just a bit. In the case of a major version update such as this (going from v7 to v8), we recommend waiting until this branch of PHP matures a bit more and developers have had a chance to ensure their systems are fully compatible. We expect this to occur for this new branch of PHP when it hits version 8.1 or 8.2 (it's currently 8.0).
While the WordPress core is compatible with PHP 8, not all themes or plugins are and it only takes one incompatibility to bring down your site or cause functionality issues. In addition, we are in the midst of updating our NMD System to be fully compatible with PHP 8, and expect this to be completed by the end of 2021. We plan to transition all our clients to PHP 8 in 2022.
So what benefits can you expect when your site is upgraded to PHP 8? Overall, it offers better performance: it's anywhere from 1.5x - 3x faster when measured using base benchmarks. From a developer's point of view, it offers an improved and more mature environment, including many new features and optimizations, better error handling and consistency.
Currently, we recommend all websites run PHP 7.4, which will be supported through Nov. 28, 2022. By that point, all sites need to be running PHP 8+, which will be supported through Nov. 26, 2023.
IMPORTANT: If your site is running PHP 7.3 or older it needs to be updated as soon as possible. See this link for more info, including how we can help: PHP 7.4 Update