The latest and greatest edition of PHP is now available to all our users. A major step forward from PHP 7.4.
What does it mean to me?
Most website software uses PHP. This includes WordPress, DokuWiki, Nextcloud and phpBB which many of our clients use.
These are all currently running PHP 7.4. However PHP 7.4 reaches its End of Life (EOL) in December 2022. Hence to ensure these applications continue to run on a supported platform they will have to be switched to 9.1 before 2023.
But I upgraded from 7.3 to 7.4 last year with no issues!
Yes, thats because 7.4 was an enhancement but no features were removed. Whereas version 8 has removed the depracated features of version 7. (Depracated means they will still run obsolete features which will be removed in future versions).
Now is the moment of reckoning. Software writers who didn’t take the time to remove them will be found out. The software will bereak or misbehave.
My site is running WordPress. Should I panic?
The good news is that WordPress runs fine under 8.1 provided you are using WordPress 5.6+. (The current version is 5.9)
The bad news is that many themes and plugins do not. You should check whether you are using incompatible themes and plugins. If these are not upgraded by 2023 you should seriously consider changing theme or using alternate plugins.
The easiest way to check is to go to https://wordpress.org and search out your themes and plugins. It will show if they have been lately updated. A rule of thumb is that if a theme or plugin has not been updated for two or more years it is effectively dead and unlikely to work with PHP 8.1.
Now is the time to find alternates as it may mean you, or your website developer needs to rebuild your site.
What if my themes or plugins are not listed? You will need to contact the autthors directly to confirm they are compatible with WordPress 5.6+ and PHP 8.1.
How else can I check if my website is compatible?
We can switch your website to use 8.1 and do a sanity check. If it fails we can immediately switch it back to 7.4 while you investigate the issue. Alternatively if it looks good you can then check everything is working ok. Again, any issues and we can switch it back.
The sooner you find any issues the more time you have to fix.
What about other software?
At the time of writing DokuWiki, phpBB & Nextcloud are not yet fully compatible. They all have plans to be compatible by year end. We will be monitoring progress and alert any clients who may have issues.