In this post, we’ll talk about the amazing efforts and collaboration seen over this past year with the End of Life (EOL) of PHP 7.4, the upcoming EOL of PHP 8.0, and a game-changing development with our platform’s offering based on customer feedback. We have a lot to cover so let’s jump right to it.
PHP 7.4 EOL
Over the last 10 months, we have been conducting an upgrade effort with our customers to update website code and achieve compatibility with newer releases of PHP. Compared to previous years, the transition of PHP 7.4 to 8.0 involved fixing more lines of code and had a larger emphasis on upgrading to the very latest releases of WordPress core. Adding more wrinkles is the matter of commercial plugins and themes not always providing compatibility updates without paying for an updated license. In some cases, you may have to revisit custom code in order to bring it up to new standards. By no stretch of the imagination is this part of operating a website easy or fun, code maintenance is a necessary task, often competing with your other development priorities.
First and foremost, we want to thank all our customers and agencies for working through these code uplift efforts. We truly appreciate your collaboration. Having seen these efforts from the inside, I can confidently say that the Pagely Support and DevOps teams worked tirelessly to patch countless sites as we approached critical upgrade dates to transition to newer PHP versions. Our mantra was to “fix forward” wherever it was viable to do so and to also avoid leaving any sites behind with unsupported PHP versions. There was no magic to this, we simply rolled up our sleeves and implemented compatibility changes to your code to get us over the hump. Ultimately, this effort resulted in the vast majority of websites hosted with Pagely successfully migrating away from PHP 7.4. Currently, only 2% of websites we host remain on PHP 7.4, a massive improvement over 65% back in November 2022. That is an impressive outcome that could not have been realized without a lot of hard work.
PHP 8.0 EOL Coming Soon
Looking ahead, we want to share the upcoming EOL of PHP 8.0, which will take place, on Nov. 25, 2023. As we do every year, Pagely will perform compatibility scanning and reach out to you before changing the PHP version mappings of “Stable,” “Sunset” and “Latest” to reflect the Supported Versions schedule.
After the EOL date, we will proceed with our usual practice of transitioning sites that can safely upgrade to the newer version. Sites that have set the “Do not automatically upgrade my PHP version” preference will get an outreach message indicating a success or fail on the upgrade testing we perform, along with any useful data we can gain for you ahead of time for debugging.
Our automated testing process is simple and effective at finding the most severe compatibility issues that would prevent a website from loading. If there are cases where issues arise, we simply roll back to the previous version as that is the quickest remedy. Preliminary scanning has indicated that the transition from 8.0 to 8.1 will have fewer compatibility issues than that of the transition from 7.4 to 8.0. We will contact each account user soon to share our findings using Pagely’s Atomic Alerts System.
Game Changer: Pagely’s Partnership with Zend PHP
As we reflected on this past EOL campaign, assessing the climate of WordPress Core support for PHP 8.0 and the rate of adoption by many popular plugins and themes, we began exploring options that could make this process better. We determined a few tools that would help; including automated code uplift and more robust compatibility testing methods, and crucially extended support for EOL PHP versions. The most impactful thing we can deliver right now is simply giving you more time, once the EOL date has passed, in a safe and secure way. This allows developers in the WordPress ecosystem to catch up, and provides you the flexibility to fit compatibility update work into your larger list of priorities. To that end, Pagely has established a new partnership with Zend to provide our customers with PHP Long Term Support (LTS). This solution, developed and provided by the original PHP company, grants us the ability to safely give extended support to those websites on older versions of PHP. Security and bug fixes are added to custom builds of PHP, with the patches maintained by Zend and delivered by Pagely to your WordPress Application. We are incredibly excited for this new partnership, and we are happy to provide Pagely customers with more time on PHP 7.4, 8.0 and future versions as they reach EOL. See the graphic below:
Image source: https://www.zend.com/services/php-long-term-support
Note: The minimum LTS version available on Pagely is PHP 7.4.
The support window for every PHP release is now extended by a minimum of two years. For PHP 7.4, this extension is for a total of four additional years from the original EOL date, which is December 2026. Although we anticipate a smoother transition for the upcoming migration of 8.0 to 8.1, you now have this option to get more time.
Let’s be clear, the best strategy is to always remain current with the latest releases of both PHP and WordPress, migrating to newer versions before EOL dates are reached. You’ll get the latest performance improvements and features that way. Pagely has consistently encouraged and embraced this approach, even if it requires extra effort. We prioritize keeping our customers on this track as much as possible. However, our feature roadmap in the long view includes other tools that will help you stay current more easily. This option is now available after EOL for those situations where timelines don’t align with the sunset dates; or if you’re planning a big redesign and don’t want to bog down that work by tending to an update of the existing site; or any other situation where it is not possible to stick to the regularly scheduled update.
Starting today, all customers are welcome to request these PHP LTS builds. We believe you may find value in having this option available, even if it is only needed for a short period of time. There is an additional cost to be able to utilize these builds, commensurate with the standard prices you would be quoted by Zend directly, with the added benefit of being on our managed WordPress platform. You may contact our Support Team to enable this new feature.