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Navigating the PHP Version Updates: What You Need to Know

Subtitle 1: Introduction to PHP Version Updates Subtitle 2: A Successful Transition: PHP 7.3 to 7.4 Subtitle 3: Dockerization for Seamless Testing Subtitle 4: Preparing for Upcoming PHP Version Changes Subtitle 5: Future Prospects and Recommendations

Introduction to PHP Version Updates

In our previous discussion about PHP versions, we promised to provide an update on the PHP version schedule for Q1 2022. However, we’re now on the brink of Q3, and here’s the latest news. Several factors contributed to this delay in communication, which we’ll delve into below.

A Successful Transition: PHP 7.3 to 7.4

Last year, we successfully migrated our entire platform from PHP 7.3 to PHP 7.4. While this might sound daunting, most of our valued customers experienced a seamless transition, thanks to our commitment to offering a fully managed WordPress experience.

How We Accomplished It

Our dedicated team rolled up their sleeves and conducted comprehensive testing on every site using PHP 7.3. Behind the scenes, we rigorously tested these sites with PHP 7.4 to ensure a smooth upgrade process. For the few sites encountering compatibility issues, we maintained their PHP 7.3 status, while the majority transitioned effortlessly to PHP 7.4.

Dockerization for Streamlined Testing

One of the key strategies that aided our transition was the implementation of Docker-based PHP-FPM environments. This approach offered increased flexibility, rapid security updates, and simplified PHP version testing. We launched separate Docker containers for each app, allowing us to run tests on alternate versions while live traffic continued without disruption.

Benefits of Dockerization

Compared to traditional strategies, Dockerization significantly accelerated compatibility checks, eliminated the need for site cloning, and reduced downtime during testing. This innovative approach exemplifies our commitment to simplifying the hosting experience for WordPress users.

Putting It in Perspective

End-to-end testing for tens of thousands of WordPress sites on a new PHP version is no small feat. Yet, our Docker-based strategy allowed us to complete compatibility checks across our entire fleet in just a day or two. When the time came to upgrade from PHP 7.3 to 7.4, every site passed testing with flying colors, resulting in a smooth transition with minimal disruptions.

Preparing for Upcoming PHP Version Changes

PHP 7.4 is approaching its full End-of-Life later this year. Given the success of our previous testing strategy, we plan to employ a similar approach with PHP 8. We’ll conduct compatibility tests for sites on both the “Stable” and “Latest” PHP version preferences, ensuring a smooth transition for all.

PHP 8 Compatibility Testing and Release Timeline

Starting from the week of August 8, 2022, we will implement the following changes:

  • PHP 7.4 “Sunset” will remain as “Sunset” until November 28, 2022 (full EOL).
  • PHP 7.4 “Stable” will transition to PHP 8.0.
  • PHP 8.0 “Latest” will transition to PHP 8.1.

These changes aim to provide a seamless transition while giving you ample time to address any compatibility issues. Official notices will be posted when the transition begins.

Checking PHP Compatibility

For PHP 8.0, which will become the new “Stable” version, compatibility updates are already widespread among WordPress plugins and WP Core. The transition from PHP 7.4 to 8.0 is relatively safe, but we’ll continue testing to ensure a smooth experience.

PHP 8.1: The Upcoming “Latest” Version

While preliminary support for PHP 8.1 arrived with WordPress 6.0, we recommend using PHP 8.1 primarily for WordPress 6.0 sites. There is ongoing work to address compatibility issues in WordPress 6.1, as well as updates needed for plugins and themes. More information can be found in the provided links.

Future Prospects and Recommendations

As we approach November 2022, we will re-evaluate the state of WordPress Core and make adjustments to version preferences accordingly. Our goal is to offer the latest versions as soon as possible, provided they are compatible with WordPress Core. Depending on the situation, we may introduce PHP 8.2 as a “Beta” option shortly after its release.

If You Don’t Switch From “Sunset” to “Stable” on Your Own

We will manage version mappings as described earlier and conduct tests before making any changes. If all tests pass, sites set to “Stable” will transition to PHP 8.0. For those using “Latest,” we will maintain that preference and conduct testing before mapping to PHP 8.1.

What Happens After November 2022

For sites locked to PHP 7.4 or 8.0, we recommend reviewing your site code to ensure compatibility with PHP 8.0. Additionally, consider disabling the version lock and adhering to the “Stable” or “Latest” preferences. This ensures you receive rolling updates without manual intervention.

In conclusion, our commitment to providing a seamless PHP version transition reflects our dedication to offering a top-tier WordPress hosting experience. We aim to keep you informed and prepared for upcoming changes while ensuring minimal disruption to your WordPress sites. Your trust in Pagely is greatly appreciated, and we look forward to continuing to serve your hosting needs effectively.

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