All you need to know about PHP 8.0

php 8.1

You will be thrilled to know that the new PHP 8.0 is now available for the users. This version is a major and special update of the PHP language, which comes with some new features and changes to offer probably the best performance for your various web projects. This new version also brings several new features to the works related to type system, error handling, syntax, strings, object-oriented programming, and many more.

 

As this is a major update, all users are thinking of migrating to the latest release to get familiar with and also use the new changes which we will now discuss here. 

What is the Need of PHP 8.0?

The latest tests state how the new PHP 8.0 is performing 10% better than its predecessors. This data shows that there is a promising future for the PHP-based websites development

Better that the test was not even conducted by using the JIT compiler, which is a new optimization feature introduced with the new version hire PHP Developers can expect a performance of faster speed if it is enabled. 

In addition to this, the new version of PHP, implements some new features to make coding much cleaner and quicker, reducing plenty of redundant and boilerplate code. 

Since this is an updated version, your website will likely experience some special changes that might break it if you do the transition to PHP 8.0 without making any kind of prior modifications. To help you to get prepared for the migration process, we will go through some of its latest features. 

Some special features of PHP 8.0

 

Features known as the JIT, Attributes, Named Parameters and also the Constructor Properties can bring some major changes and improvements in the syntax. Also some minor improvements such as improved error handling, resource to object migrations and some other changes and improvements in operators and engine comparisons can help in reducing the chances of the overlooked bugs.

About the Attributes 

Attributes helps in declaring the meta-data for functions, classes, parameters and properties. Attributes can easily map to PHP class names (declared with an Attribute itself), and they are also able to be fetched programmatically with the PHP Reflection API.

About the Union Types 2.0

In some cases, a function can use more than one type, but it wasn’t possible to specify this attribute in the previous PHP versions unless you declared the types using the Doc Comments.

It also can support a false as a special type (for Boolean false), a trait that’s already prevalent in legacy code that did not use Exceptions.

The Constructor Properties

A new syntax is here declared about the class properties right from the class constructor (__construct magic method).

In this constructor, the PHP 8.0 can support in declaring both the visibility (public, private, or protected) and type. Those special properties will be registered as the class properties with the similar visibility and type they are already declared in the constructor.

 

The special JIT (Just-in-Time) Compiler

The feature, known as the JIT compiler is one of the most helpful and exciting updates to PHP 8.0. This feature can easily help to work with the opcache to improve the performance in script execution.

What Is JIT actually? 

Short for the term just-in-time, the JIT compiles opcode into the machine code right before it will run for output. To understand what the meaning of this is and how it works, we need to know about the PHP script execution stages, which are:

  • The Lexical analysis. This is the step where the Zend Engine, the PHP interpreter, can easily translate the code into those machine-readable tokens.
  • The Parser. Here the interpreter parses the tokens to generate the Abstract Syntax Tree or known as the AST – which is a tree-like representation that shows the working procedure of the codes or how the code works. 
  • The Compilation. The interpreter here can convert the AST nodes into opcode which is a machine-readable instruction that commands the Zend virtual machine (VM) about what specific operation they have to perform. 
  • The Execution. The interpreter here delivers the opcode to the Zend VM, which will then just compile the opcode into the machine code for the purpose of execution. 

This process uses a very important and significant amount of the resources of the server, especially when a PHP script gets some repeat requests. 

That’s why the previous version PHP 5.5 introduced the opcache extension, which stores the opcode from the stage known as compilation. 

When the server receives a new request for the same script, the interpreter can run the opcode from the opcache without any delay. In that way, you don’t have to restart the execution process from the very beginning.

The previous version PHP 7.4 added a preloading feature several years later to have the opcache precompiled scripts into opcode during the process of start up. For this reason, the interpreter can be able to deliver the opcode for execution immediately when the server first gets a request for the script.

Despite these special perks, there are some downsides as well. One is that towards the end part of the process, the Zend VM still faces the need to convert the opcode into machine code before properly running it, which can take a lot of time and resources also.

That’s where the JIT compiler can help you. It will easily compile the opcode into machine code at the time of its first run to prepare for the next execution. 

When there comes a request for a JIT-compiled script, PHP will directly run it by the CPU instead of the Zend VM, thus offering much faster performance. Here’s what the stages of script execution will look like on PHP 8.0, in comparison to its previous versions:

 

There are two types of JIT compilation engines:

  • Tracing. This mode will help in only analyzing and compiling the parts, which are used most often in the function to save both the time and memory. This is also the default engine in PHP 8.0.
  • Function. This approach will be able to both identify and compile an entire function without figuring out which parts are called frequently. 

As per the RFC, using JIT is the most significant way to improve the performance of PHP. Thus, ignoring this feature may result in missing out on a very special and helpful benefit. 

The synthetic benchmarks of PHP reveal a three times larger boost in the speed after using the Tracing mode. In the applications which are long-running, you can expect to see performance enhanced and improved by nearly two times.

For the building job portal website WordPress developers and users, the JIT compiler can give a slight boost as well, though it may not be very significant. 

You may have to reduce the TTFB, also optimize the database, and reduce the number of HTTP requests to get probably the best performance. Moreover, the PHP developers will continue the efforts of improvement by using some profiling and speculative optimizations. 

 

Just remember that JIT is still new, and had bug fixes as late as a day before PHP 8.0.0 was released. It makes the process of debugging and profiling more difficult with the added extra layer.

 

The Match Expressions

The match expression is much similar to a switch statement, where its purpose is to compare the multiple values. However, the semantics are more efficient and also less prone to errors.

 

About the Named Arguments

In the previous PHP versions, passing the multiple arguments to a function will need using the order of the positions in which the parameters were declared.

One challenge with this feature is that you may not be able to remember the order of parameters. Moreover, it can be really difficult to understand what each one refers to when you visit the code. 

With the new version PHP 8.0, you have the option to add a name next to the parameter and with this; you can pass it to a function by the use of its name instead. One special benefit of this new feature is that by learning what each parameter does will make the entire process much faster. 

The Null-safe operator

The operator called as the Null-safe operator provides safety in property chaining when the return value or property can become null.

The feature called as the WeakMap

The feature WeakMap allows to both store and associate arbitrary values for the object keys, but without the prevention of the garbage collector from clearing it, if the object falls out of scope in anywhere else.

Some additional new functions

PHP 8.0 introduces some new functions to ease the string inspections (contains, starts with sub-string, or ends with sub-string) to replace the meticulous strops ()! == false calls that are error-prone and less readable because of the weak type comparisons.

Conclusion

Therefore, the new version of PHP, known as the PHP 8.0 can offer you some really amazing features and help you to do some error free tasks with a faster speed. Hence, you can always try this out.

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