Some Random Thoughts on WordPress and PHP versions

One thing that I’ve been working on for the last few months is ensuring WordPress supports PHP7 fully when PHP7 is released.  Last week, I had the honor of announcing WordPress will support PHP7 the day it is released (for all intents and purposes, it is supported now, but it will be official when PHP7 is official). What should have been a happy moment though was met with hostility and renewed of discussion of a different topic: the fact that the minimum supported version of PHP is 5.2.  While these issues are linked in theory, they aren’t the same.  Much like I did for the default themes, here are some random thoughts on WordPress and PHP versions:

  • It is important to support the latest and greatest version of PHP in WordPress core, and important to be ready as soon as possible. Much like we encourage downstream developers of WordPress to test and prepare for new versions, we need to do so upstream.
  • PHP’s consistent release schedule and minimal breaking changes over the last few years is going to make it easier for hosts to update in the future
  • WordPress is often blamed for hosts still running 5.2, but we need to remember that WordPress runs fine on newer versions of PHP, other applications, not so much.
  • No one wants to bump the minimum version of PHP more than the people actively writing WordPress. It just isn’t the responsible thing to do, which is why it’s not done.
  • PHP Core’s decision to drop 5.2 support when so much of the internet depended on it was one of the most harmful decisions it ever made.  It didn’t cause people to update, it caused people to run an insecure version of PHP.
  • Years ago, WordPress was thrown a lot of shade for supporting PHP 4.4 and not moving the minimum version while other open source PHP Content Management Systems had announced the switch with their next major version.  That took years to be released and in the end, the versions that dropped PHP4 support all came out around the same time.
  • When WordPress switched the minimum from 4.4 to 5.2, many users were stuck not being able to update. WordPress caused them to not be able to update WordPress.  That sucks for them and makes WordPress look bad.
  • The reason I hear from most hosts on why they don’t just update users is that it will break things other than WordPress.  If WordPress updates it’s required version and other applications/scripts are broken, WordPress broke the users site.  I don’t care if WordPress runs fine, if WordPress forced an update, WordPress is responsible for the update.
  • WordPress should continue testing nightly builds of PHP.

3 thoughts on “Some Random Thoughts on WordPress and PHP versions”

  1. Most users don’t have any clue of php version, therefore within dashboard while updating their site if anything gets broken, WordPress gets the blame. Sad but true.

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