PHP 8: The Complete Guide

PHP 8: The Complete Guide

On November 26, 2020, we entered into the new world of PHP 8. Every PHP update brings an entire host of brand new, major features. While not all of the updates are important to the majority of casual users, even other updates are too niche for the majority of seasoned WordPress developers.

But no matter what level of development you’re operating on, aspects of the new release, such as an increase in speed and breaking changes that might harm existing code, could negatively impact your daily workflow.

In this guide, we’ll walk through the most important changes in this new release of PHP 8. Let’s dive in.

Why PHP Updates Happen

As an engine, PHP is changing constantly. New bits are always being modified or added to help optimize code and make PHP easier and simpler to work with.

WordPress plugin and theme creators, along with website developers, need to stay on top of PHP changes when they happen. By doing so, you’ll be a step ahead of the game and avoid pouring through pages of documentation after a few more updates have happened.

Each new version of PHP is intended to bring positive changes to the development environment. Unfortunately, there are times when certain tweaks can harm your existing code.

When incompatible, backward or outdated attributes clash with new PHP updates, it might end up breaking your entire site or causing areas of the site to stop working.

It’s a good idea to know what potential breaking changes are released so that you can address them directly within custom code. This also helps you make use of newer code that has more optimized expressions.

However, even if you haven’t touched a single piece of custom code in your career, when your WordPress dashboard adds a WordPress PHP Update Required notice for the updated version of PHP, you’ll have to decide if you’re going to upgrade or not.

Invariably, the answer to that question is nearly always yes. But before you do so, it’s smart to look over the major feature changes and ensure that there isn’t anything that might cause you problems. As the old saying goes, “It’s better to be safe than to be sorry.”

What’s New in the PHP 8 Release

This release of PHP is not, by any means, the biggest update that has come through. But there are still some exciting changes that we should look at.

In some ways, it’s a bit of a relief that PHP 8 is a relatively small update. This means that there are less breaking changes that could cause issues to your existing code.

In other words, the current PHP release gives you some great new features without the need to spend hours troubleshooting problems.

While there are some additional changes made in this version of PHP, this guide will cover the most relevant ones.

Just In Time (JIT) Compiler

The most exciting, and certainly biggest

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This article was written by Kristen Wright and originally published on WordPress News and Updates from iThemes – iThemes.

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