It’s time to test your website with PHP 8

Published by Vic Drover on

Test your website with PHP 8

After November 28, 2021, PHP 7 will only receive security fixes. And while PHP 8 barely registers in the current usage statistics of WordPress and Joomla, it will be the only actively-supported version after that date. So now is a great time to test your website with PHP 8, including sites managed with Watchful.

Why test your website with PHP 8

Generally speaking, applications run faster with each new version of PHP. However, Joomla and WordPress running PHP 8 are only marginally faster compared sites running PHP 7 (see benchmarks below). So testing your website as a means to improve performance is not justified in most situations.

Kinsta Php Benchmarks 2021 Compilation
Performance benchmarking PHP 8 (via Kinsta).

Rather, security and maintenance are the primary reasons to test and upgrade to PHP 8. As noted above, PHP 7 will only receive security updates after November 28, 2021 and will reach end of life in 20 months in 2022.

While you might be thinking that 20 months is a long time, PHP 8 development continues. So the gap between your current version and PHP 8.x continues to grow also. The larger this gap becomes, the harder it will be to migrate your site.

On the maintenance side, we know that updating the software installed on your site is one of the most important factors in making your website secure. Keeping your PHP version in the actively supported range maximizes your compatibility with plugin and extension developers. This means that you can always update to the latest versions of the software that your website relies on.

Is PHP 8 ready for use on production websites?

For WordPress and Joomla sites, the short answer is probably “No”.

Version 8 is one of the most impactful updates for PHP and includes many changes that are not backwards-compatible. And despite the benefits noted above, it is likely that PHP 8 will not yet be compatible with all of the software on your website.

However, now is a great time to test staged copies of your sites. You may be pleasantly surprised by the results. Otherwise, you’ll be able to make a list of developers to contact to help you plan a realistic timeline for the eventual upgrade to PHP 8.

Watchful and PHP 8

As of this writing, Watchful supports PHP 8.

We encourage anyone running PHP 8 to test their sites in Watchful and to report any problems using the support form.

WordPress and PHP 8

WordPress websites running PHP 8 can be managed with Watchful. We have updated the Watchful Client to fully support PHP 8.x. This update will slowly be released to all users in the coming weeks.

Until the updated plugin is publicly available on the WordPress repository, use the following process to test your website with PHP 8:

  1. Add your WordPress site to Watchful as normal. Watchful plugin 1.2.20 has basic support for WordPress sites running PHP 8.
  2. Update the Watchful plugin to version 1.3. Download Watchful plugin 1.3.0 and install using the Watchful Installer or via the site backend.
Joomla and PHP 8

Joomla websites running PHP 8 can be managed with Watchful. We have updated the Watchful Client to fully support PHP 8.x. This update will slowly be released to all users in the coming weeks.

Until the updated client is publicly available on the Joomla Extensions Directory, use the following process to test your website with PHP 8:

  1. Add your Joomla site to Watchful as normal. Watchful Client 2.0.4 has basic support for Joomla sites running PHP 8.
  2. Update the Watchful Client to version 2.1.0:
    1. Beta testers
      1. Click the Refresh data button in the Site drawer to make sure your site has the most recent list of available updates.
      2. Click the Updater button in the Site drawer to view the available updates for the site.
      3. Locate Watchful Client 2.1.0 and click the Update button to apply the update.
    2. Non-beta testers
      1. Download Watchful Client 2.1.0 and install using the Watchful Installer or via the site backend.
Watchful Client 2.1.0
Updating to Watchful Client version 2.1.0 for Joomla (beta testers).

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