PHP 7.0.0, a high-performance upgrade to the popular server-side scripting language for Web development, was due for a general release late last week. Instead, builders of the language released a seventh RC (release candidate).
Release candidates are generally considered the final precursor to a general release; the first release candidate for PHP 7.0.0 became available in August. But this seventh release candidate is supposed to, finally, lead to that general release, according to the PHP development team in the PHP blog.
"This release candidate is unplanned and ships instead of the announced RTM (release to manufacturing) for the reasons of yet additional quality improvement. If no major issues appear within the usual two-week test period, the 7.0.0 general availability release will be brought out," the blog says.
Two weeks after the announced availability of the seventh release candidate would be November 26, although the PHP wiki does not specifically cite that date as the release date. "We're currently expecting PHP 7.0 to be released toward the end of the month, although there's no final date yet," said prominent PHP developer Andi Gutmans, who has served as CEO of PHP software vendor Zend Technologies. He is now executive vice president of strategic partnerships at Rogue Wave Software, which recently acquired Zend.
"RCs in PHP speak are actually just mature betas," Gutmans explained in an email. "Six RCs were planned from the get-go, it's only the seventh RC that was unexpected and was added due to some stopper bugs found in RC6. Even though it was unexpected, this was an 'expected unexpected' -- the release guidelines enable as many RCs as needed to ensure the quality of the shipped product is best-in-class."
PHP's release process is more mature than most other open source projects, which often simply go for "it'll be ready when it's ready" and provide no timeline, Gutmans said. "We anticipate a faster-than-typical upgrade cycle with the release of PHP 7. This means a potential of more than one-half of the Web will be refreshing in the next 12-24 months, which spells out huge opportunity for players in the PHP space."
The upgrade offers performance boosts for "real-world" applications, and RC 7, downloadable at the PHP website, fixes 17 reported bugs. Featuring a new version of the Zend Engine, PHP 7.0.0 is slated to be twice as fast as PHP 5.6, the current stable release of PHP, and offer consistent 64-bit support. PHP founder Rasmus Lerdorf expects the upgrade to require fewer servers. Additionally, many fatal errors become exceptions, and old, unsupported SAPIs (Server API) and extensions have been removed. Anonymous classes and Return type and scalar type declarations also are featured. Users are again advised not to use the release candidate in production, since it is just a development preview.