8 amazing things you need to know about PHP 7

If you are a technology geek, or you maintain any websites using PHP-enabled Content Management Systems (CMS) such as WordPress, Magento, or Drupal, then you would surely relish the amazing features of the all-new PHP 7.

With some significant features, surpassing the previous versions of PHP, the new PHP 7 is out now and is available to have hands-on and explore it.

The latest PHP 7 has now emerged after the elimination of all the possible bugs and glitches that were previously hindering its performance. PHP 7 has the ability to deliver immensely powerful mobile and web applications providing with optimized performance and minimized storage consumption.

What about PHP 6?

Well PHP 6 was never launched publicly. It’s an eye-opening fact that PHP 6 existed to the extent of experiments only, and was not available in the market. The reputation of PHP 6 was jeopardized due to the delay in production and launch, therefore the PHP developers no longer wanted to use the name PHP 6. Hence the version that superseded PHP 5.6 is PHP 7.

So, stay relaxed, you have not skipped any version of the PHP!

Let’s now dive-in to explore the features of PHP 7 explained below.

  • The latest Zend Engine – PHPNG

The Zend Engine was introduced with the release of PHP 4 in 1999 and has been powering PHP since then. Written in C language, the Zend Framework is an open-source execution engine which sufficiently supports the new PHP 7. The prior PHP 5 series uses Zend Engine II that enhanced the functionality and boosted the performance.

PHP 7 has been powered by the latest version of Zend Engine – PHPNG, where NG refers to Next Generation.

  • The 2x Speed

The major improvement that any developer seeks for in an update is the enhancement of speed and performance. The PHP 7 undoubtedly delivers that with precision!

Launched with many amazing features, the 2x speed element is one of the most distinguished updates of PHPNG that can be enjoyed by the programmers. The PHP 7 will allow faster code execution to the users with fewer servers to facilitate the same amount of users. Added to this, the minimal memory consumption will also boost the performance and workability of PHP 7.

Following graph depicts the performance standards that PHP 7 has set;

  • Enhanced error handling capability

Dealing with catchable fatal errors has never been an easy task for PHP coders. With the introduction of Exceptions, the new Zend Engine enables the developers to cater to the errors without system failure and without the script being stopped. In PHP 7, if a fatal error occurs, it would be replaced with an exception and the script would not stop. However, if the exception goes uncaught, the error would still be of the fatal nature.

  • New spaceship operators and null coalescing operators
  • Spaceship operators

An official name for the spaceship operator is Combined Comparison Operator. The notation of the new spaceship operator looks like this: <=>, which allows the quick and convenient comparison of expressions.

This operator check the expressions individually for < (less than), = (equals to), and > (greater than). If the value of the left is less than the value on the right of the operator, it will produce -1. If the values on the left and right are equal, then it will return 0, and if the value on the left is greater than the value on the right, it will produce 1 as the result.

Already existing in other programming languages like Ruby and Perl, it is called a three-way comparison operator.

Example:
<?php
$c =$a<=>$b;

// This is equivalent to

$c=($a<$b)?-1:(($a>$b)?1:0);
?>

  • Null coalescing operators

It’s a more effective form of the widely know if-set-or operator. If the first operand is not NULL and consists of a value, then it would show the same value that the operand consists. If the first operand appears to be NULL, then it would show the value that you have set as default on the right side of the operator.

Example:
<?php
// Fetches the value of $_GET[‘user’] and returns ‘nobody’
// if it does not exist.
$username = $_GET[‘user’] ?? ‘nobody’;
// This is equivalent to:
$username = isset($_GET[‘user’]) ? $_GET[‘user’] : ‘nobody’;

// Coalescing can be chained: this will return the first
// defined value out of $_GET[‘user’], $_POST[‘user’], and
// ‘nobody’.
$username = $_GET[‘user’] ?? $_POST[‘user’] ?? ‘nobody’;
?>

  • Allows accurate type declarations

Who doesn’t want to prevent the unintended values that the function returns? Amazingly, the new PHP 7 allows the developers to amplify the quality of their code with return type declarations.

Example:
<?php

function arraysSum(array …$arrays): array
{
return array_map(function(array $array): int {
return array_sum($array);
}, $arrays);
}

print_r(arraysSum([1,2,3], [4,5,6], [7,8,9]));

?>

To elevate functionality even further, PHP 7 has introduced 4 new type declarations for the scalar view – int, float, string, and bool. Thenew scalar types allow the developers to specify whether they are expecting integers, floats, strings, or booleans to be returned as a result.

  • Adding the anonymous classes

Using anonymous classes is already an entrenched practice in languages like C# and Java but PHP 7 has also enabled it for its users now. The anonymous class refers to a class without a name but it embodies the same work ability and functionality as an object of a named class.

It has the same syntax arrangement as the typical PHP classes, the difference is that the name in the anonymous class is missing. It has the ability to speed up coding and execution time if incorporated skillfully.

  • Enables importing from the same namespace

If you intend to import many classes from the same namespace, then this feature would prove to be the manna for you. This new syntax is succinct (curtails the excess words in statements), is ordered and pleasant to eyes, and reduces the time consumed in typing.

Being precise, this syntax will assist the developers in reading through and debugging the codes as group use declarations allow users to identify the imports belonging to the same modules.

  • The space cleanup

One of the ultimate goals of the programs is to get rid of old and unsupported files, extensions, and APIs, to free up space and facilitate improvements. The PHP 7 has executed this goal efficiently by eradicating all the unfavorable functionalities resulting in speedy work ability.

A fact that needs consideration here is that if you have any traditional applications running on older versions of PHP, then the PHP 7 can potentially interrupt and break the code.

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