The next iteration of PHP is getting closer, and the conversation currently hitting the internals mailing list is what that next iteration actually is; PHP 6 or PHP 7.
It sounds a little bizarre. The current version is 5, so surely the next version is 6, right? Well, here lies the problem.
PHP 6 was attempted some time ago. There were numerous features pegged, but the big problem was Unicode support. Cutting a (very) long story short; there were too many hurdles and it didn’t happen. PHP 6 was shelved and many of the useful features already developed were merged into the 5.x branch.
PHP 5.3 was released in June 2009 and was a huge step forward.
So why 7?
There are a number of reasons:
- 6 existed. It may not have been formally released, but it existed. The next version of PHP is not that which was previously shelved.
- 6 was well publicised and people associate certain things with it, things which won’t be a part of the next version.
- Books, as well as online material, exist on PHP 6 – the old one.
And why PHP 6?
The only real reason I can fathom for keeping it as PHP 6 is the obvious; the last released was 5, so 6 is next.
It’s not unusual to skip versions entirely. Plenty of projects do it, and it’s not a problem. This is a little more grey than simply skipping a version, in my opinion, as 6 does exist in one form or another. People know what it is, and what is going to be released is not that.
So yes, I voted for PHP 7.
The vote is due to close on Wednesday, and it currently stands at 24 for PHP 6 and 54 for PHP 7.
What do others think?
Phil Sturgeon, a strong PHP community figure, voted for PHP 6. His post on the matter is a good read.
It doesn’t really matter. When it’s released, whatever it’s called, the majority of PHP developers, systems admins, site owners, etc. won’t know, nor care, about any of this. Let’s just pick a name, get on with it, and get it released.