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New Features within PHP 8
PHP is a very versatile programming language that you can embed within HTML. It is widely used by many web developers for website applications at the back end and has been around for over 25 years. Here are the most exciting new features that you can expect with the imminent PHP 8 upgrade:
Just In Time (JIT) Compiler
Many web developers that are aware of the new features to come with PHP 8 are very excited about the JIT compiler. The main reason for this is that there is the potential for speeding up PHP execution times.
This feature is seen as so significant that many believe that it will make PHP more powerful and enable it to compete directly with python and other offline languages. The purpose of the JIT complier is increase the usability and performance of PHP.
One of the issues with PHP is that it has to be interpreted and there is a translation process that occurs to enable a CPU or other machine to understand it when it is running. With the JIT compiler, translations should occur faster thanks to the execution of compiled code at runtime rather than having the computer have to interpret the PHP again.
Union Types Upgrade to 2.0
The union types feature of PHP allows developers to state variables in different types. With the 2.0 upgrade, developers will be add union types in function signatures. This means that they will no longer have to rely on inline documentation as the function id defined by syntax.
Union Types 2.0 will enable:
- Correct types enforcement
- The early detection of mistakes in development
- Reduce the possibility of outdated information display or edge-case overlooking
- Inheritance checking of union types
- Increased flexibility with syntax over phpdoc
PHP 8 contains an OPcache extension that has the aim of increasing PHP performance. After the JIT compiler compiles translated code, OPcache saves it in shared memory. This eliminates the loading and parsing of PHP scripts for each request.
There are typically 4 steps with PHP execution:
- Lexing or Tokenizing – this is where PHP source code strings are turned into tokens which act as indentifiers
- Parse – PHP checks the input in tokens and confirms token order. It will also generate the AST (abstract syntax tree) providing a source code overview for the next step
- Compile – the compile stage deals with the AST recursive traversing. There are also some optimizations here such as the folding of constant formulas and function call resolving with literal arguments
- Execute – this is where code interpretation takes place with outputs in line with PHP commands
With the OPcache extension enabled, a PHP interpreter will only have to go through this process a single time. After this, there is a compiled version in memory that will execute on request without requiring the first three steps above.
Attributes Version 2
Sometimes known as annotations, attributes are metadata-structured forms used to verify the properties of different objects, files and elements. With older versions of PHP, you needed to use doc-comments to declare classes and tag attributes.
With PHP 8 you can use attributes to code a number of declarations to verify properties, classes, constants, functions, parameters and methods. You will be able to place these tags before any declarations.
Promotion of Constructor Property
There is a new promotion of constructor property feature available in PHP 8. This will help developers by providing a more concise and updated syntax. The main aim of this feature is to provide a more straightforward process for property declaration and reduce redundancy.
With previous PHP versions, properties have to be repeated several times prior to use with objects. There must be a display in constructor parameters, property declaration and property assignment.
The promotion of constructor properties update helps developers to promote properties in a shorter way. Code is more readable and there is less chance of errors because of the reduction in the amount of boilerplate code that develops need to value objects.
Final Thoughts on PHP 8
There was eager anticipation about the release of PHP 8 in the development world. Improved usability and performance is something that we all want. The JIT compiler is the most eagerly awaited new feature, but the other features are all worth having as well.
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