End of Life for PHP 7.4: What Does This Mean for Apps?

Written by: Steffan
November 23, 2022

PHP is certainly one of the world’s most popular and widely used programming languages. Any change in version or update has a substantial impact on various applications worldwide. The end-of-life date for PHP 7.4 has been set, and that will mark the end of a scripting language version used by the majority of PHP applications. Reports show that over 65% of the current PHP users use this version, which will cease to exist on November 28, 2022. When a PHP version reaches the “community support end of life,” the security patches are no longer provided for that version. This makes the application highly vulnerable to risks and can be easily exploited.

How to Prepare

Migrate to PHP 8.0

It is high time that users and entities migrate to a later version if they haven’t already done so by now. The immediate and obvious choice is to migrate to PHP 8.0 or later. This is a simple and easy solution for teams with few applications or relatively uncomplicated codebases. Tools like phpcompat can be used to flag code that is no longer compatible with later versions and indicates changes that are needed. Tools such as Rector help automate code refactoring to address language deprecations.

The migration processes for applications need to be planned in detail and in advance to be effective and cost-efficient. You need to give the plan enough time for implementation. Note that PHP 7.4 was the final PHP minor release. This implies that the destination PHP version may not be backward compatible. Major versions such as PHP 8.0 are released only when customers are exposed to breaking changes in existing APIs. These include changing function and method signatures, making changes to error handling, and eliminating certain existing features. If you use any of the changed or affected features, your application code may break and cause severe issues like data corruption or crashed applications.

Stick with PHP 7.4

The alternative approach is to continue using PHP 7.4, for which addressing long-term EOL PHP support is essential. You will need dedicated personnel with not only PHP expertise but also systems and networking expertise to evaluate security issues and develop mitigations. Self-support is an expensive option and is logistically possible only for entities with enormous resources and employees. This is why a third-party source of patches is the most viable route for most business units. However, there is always a risk of running into security threats, which is why third parties need to be trustworthy and reliable.

Update Website Core

Another viable option is to update the core version of your website to be compatible with newer and higher versions. Certain applications require effective content migration to adjust their compatibility. It is mandatory to have your applications thoroughly studied and profiled to understand the impact on your code base and your overall business.

Migrating or upgrading from your EOL PHP is crucial for various reasons, including avoiding organizational and security risks, enhancing performance, and most importantly, ensuring the stability of your applications. AppendX Digital can provide just the ideal support you require for this transition. We are experts in providing custom-tailored software solutions and digital marketing solutions to meet the exact needs of your business. Contact us today!

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