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Community News:
PHP Specification in Development
July 30, 2014 @ 11:54:25

In a recent message to the PHP internals mailing list Sara Golemon has announced the development of a PHP specification, a document formally defining the interfaces and structure of the functionality of the language. The effort is being spearheaded by a group at Facebook.

We (As in PHP) have been talking about making a spec for the PHP language for a LONG time. With PHPNG around the corner, the need for a formal spec is even more important so that we can reliably ensure that PHP.Next matches PHP 5.6's behavior as much as possible. Meanwhile, other implementations of PHP (like HHVM) should be as spec compliant as possible so that we don't see the language bifurcate. To that end, we (as in Facebook), have been putting together a formal language spec for PHP (using PHP 5.6 as the source of truth) along with an additional conformance test suite (which compliments Zend/tests).

An initial version (a "sneak peek") has already been posted providing a great start to the effort. There's already been a lot of support for the project in the community and some of the concerns around workflow and maintenance are already starting to be addressed.

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language specification facebook earlyrelease

Link: http://grokbase.com/t/php/php-internals/147p423vvz/php-language-specification

PHP.net:
PHP 5.4.31 and 5.5.13 Released
July 25, 2014 @ 10:07:02

The PHP development group has officially released the latest in the PHP 5.4.x and 5.5.x series today: PHP 5.4.31 and PHP 5.5.15

The PHP development team announces the immediate availability of PHP 5.4.31 [and PHP 5.5.13[. Over 10 bugs were fixed in this release. All PHP 5.4 users are encouraged to upgrade to this version.

Bugs fixed in these releases include updates to the core language, the built-in CLI server, the PostgreSQL extension and the streams interface. You can view the full list of changes (and related bugs) in the full Changelog. As always, you can download this latest release either from the main downloads page or from windows.php.net for the Windows users.

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language release bugfix update

Link: http://php.net/archive/2014.php#id2014-07-24-2

Toptal Blog:
10 Most Common PHP Mistakes
July 17, 2014 @ 12:52:40

On the Toptal blog Ilya Sanosyan has a post sharing what he sees as the top ten most common mistakes PHP developers make on a day to day basis. While most of the tips are code-specific there are one or two that are a bit more abstract.

PHP makes it relatively easy to build a web-based system, which is much of the reason for its popularity. But its ease of use notwithstanding, PHP has evolved into quite a sophisticated language, with many nuances and subtleties that can bite developers, leading to hours of hair-pulling debugging. This article highlights ten of the more common mistakes that PHP developers need to beware of.

Among the items on his list are things like:

  • Leaving dangling array references after foreach loops
  • Confusion about returning by reference vs. by value
  • Memory usage headfakes and inefficiencies
  • Assuming $_POST will always contain your POST data
  • Thinking that PHP supports a character data type

Each of the items comes with a good description, some code and suggestions on how to avoid and/or fix it in your applications.

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common language mistakes top10 list

Link: http://www.toptal.com/php/10-most-common-mistakes-php-programmers-make

Derick Rethans:
No to a Uniform Variable Syntax
July 17, 2014 @ 09:32:15

There's been an RFC that's recently made it through the voting process and was approved for inclusion in PHP6, the uniform variable syntax handling. When these changes are put into effect, some of the odd syntax you had to use for things like variable variables will be cleared up and standardized. However, Derick Rethans stood out as the only "no" vote, here's why...

As you might have heard, PHP developers voted on an RFC called "Uniform Variable Syntax". This RFC "proposes the introduction of an internally consistent and complete variable syntax". In general, this RFC argues for making PHP's parser more complete for all sorts of variable dereferences. [...] Thirty people voted for, and one against: Me. Does that mean that I am against a unified variable syntax? No, I am not. I am actually quite a fan of having a consistent language, but we need to be careful when this hits existing users.

He points out that there's known backwards compatibility breaks in the changes and this breaks the semantics of the language. While the BC breaks are understood, Derick suggests that this is one of the worst changes a language can make: "...and this is exactly why people whine that PHP breaks BC and does not care about its users".

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rfc uniform variable syntax against vote semantics language

Link: http://derickrethans.nl/uniform-variable-syntax.html

Engine Yard Blog:
Celebrating 10 Years of PHP 5.0.0
July 16, 2014 @ 11:56:24

On the Engine Yard blog Davey Shafik has a new post celebrating ten years of PHP 5 as of July 13th, 2014:

Ten years ago yesterday on July 13th 2004, PHP 5.0.0 was unleashed onto the world. Bringing with it the Zend Engine 2, effectively a brand new PHP. [...] The truth is that until PHP 5, PHP was a mostly procedural language, while it supported classes and objects, they were a bolt-on feature. This history is still visible in the majority of its default feature set even today - including some of its newest additions like the new password hashing API.

He talks about the evolution of PHP even since version 5.0.0 and how other technologies, like Ruby on Rails, has influenced the language and its developers towards greater things. He shares his answers to a few questions including:

    What is the most significant change to PHP in the last 10 years?
  • What's the biggest change in the community in the last 10 years?
  • What's the most pressing issue for PHP?
  • What would you like to see in the next major version?

He also includes an infographic of the timeline that lead up to the PHP 5.0.0 release and the advancements since then. There's even a look at the "Future of PHP" with some emerging technologies and what might lie in store for "PHP 6" (whatever that may end up being).

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engineyard ten years php5 retrospective prediction language

Link: https://blog.engineyard.com/2014/php-5-10th-anniversary

PHP.net:
PHP 5.6.0RC2 is available
July 04, 2014 @ 15:08:14

The PHP development group has released the latest Release Candidate in the PHP 5.6.x series: PHP 5.6.0RC2. A reminder, though, this is not a production release, so only use it in testing.

The PHP development team announces the immediate availability of the second release candidate of PHP 5.6. As we entered the feature freeze with beta1, this is a bugfix-only release. All users of PHP are encouraged to test this version carefully, and report any bugs in the bug tracking system.

Several issues were fixed in this release candidate including updates to the core engine, internationalization, the PostgreSQL extension and the PHPDBG debugger functionality. You can find the full list in the NEWS file. You can download this latest release from the PHP QA site or the Windows QA site.

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language release php56rc2 releasecandidate development testing bugfix

Link: http://php.net/index.php#id2014-07-03-1

PHP.net:
PHP 5.4.30 & 5.5.14 Released
June 27, 2014 @ 09:49:17

PHP.net has posted two new release announcements today, one for PHP 5.4.30 and the other for PHP 5.5.14.

For the PHP 5.4.30 release:

The PHP development team announces the immediate availability of PHP 5.4.30. Over 20 bugs were fixed in this release, including the following security issues: CVE-2014-3981, CVE-2014-0207, CVE-2014-3478, CVE-2014-3479, CVE-2014-3480, CVE-2014-3487, CVE-2014-4049, CVE-2014-3515. All PHP 5.4 users are encouraged to upgrade to this version. Please, note that this release also fixes a backward compatibility issue that has been detected in the PHP 5.4.29 release.

For the PHP 5.5.14 release:

The PHP Development Team announces the immediate availability of PHP 5.5.14. This release fixes several bugs against PHP 5.5.13. Also, this release fixes a total of 8 CVEs, half of them concerning the FileInfo extension. All PHP users are encouraged to upgrade to this new version. Please, note that this release also fixes a backward compatibility issue that has been detected in the PHP 5.5.13 release.

As always you can download these latest releases from the main downloads page (or here for Windows users) and see the complete list of changes in the Changelog.

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language release bugfix security update

Link: http://www.php.net/archive/2014.php#id2014-06-26-1

Reddit.com:
Hack How to open the black box of Hacklang as a PHP developer
June 25, 2014 @ 11:56:44

In this recent post to Reddit, user JordanLeDoux shares some of the basics behind the Hack language (from Facebook) and making a "first jump" into it and its strong typing handling.

codebase. Having built HHVM, they wanted something that would enforce certain behaviors for developers that didn't rely on IDE's interpreting phpDoc statements. Hack's most interesting and largest function is that it adds optional strong typing to PHP, by examining the tokenized code and ensuring that where declared strong typing is respected.

Example code is included showing the different levels of typing and how to use them in a few example functions. He introduces some of the basic types included in Hack (like int, float and bool) and some of the types unique to Hack (like mixed, tuples, resource and closures). There's a brief look at maps, vectors and sets and a link to more documentation if your interest has been piqued to learn more and make that "first jump".

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hack introduction language facebook tutorial

Link: http://www.reddit.com/r/PHP/comments/28wn7j/hack_how_to_open_the_black_box_of_hacklang_as_a/

Dominic Tancredi:
PHP is a dying language - A Rebuttal
June 24, 2014 @ 09:47:14

In a recent post to his site Dominic Tancredi has posted some of his own opinions about the PHP language, a rebuttal to all of those who say that PHP is dying.

A junior programmer with a master's asked me, "Is PHP a dying language being taken over by trending technologies like Ruby on Rails?" Here are my thoughts. Order. It all comes down to order. Order is what defines us, clarifies ideas. Order allows us to get to market quicker, safer, and less defects. Order is a pristine engine that is maintainable, scalable and extendable.

He talks about the evolution of web development language over the years: how Ruby on Rails was the "next big thing" for a while and how PHP, despite starting from a small community grew into something a bit haphazard and crazy. Out of that craziness, though, came what he calls the "PHP Renaissance", a time when PHP is gaining order, standards are being defined and good practices are winning over the old ways. He mentions some adoption numbers and reinforces a suggestion from Phil Sturgeon that we all need to act more like a community and less like a tribe (or a set of tribes, centered around tools or techniques).

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dying language rebuttal opinion community

Link: http://dominic-tancredi.com/posts/php-is-a-dying-language-a-rebuttal

PHP.net:
PHP 5.6.0RC1 is available
June 20, 2014 @ 09:09:28

On the PHP.net site a new announcement has been posted about the release of PHP 5.6.0RC1, the first release candidate in the PHP 5.6.0 series.

The PHP development team announces the immediate availability of the first release candidate of PHP 5.6. As we entered the feature freeze with beta1, this is a bugfix-only release. All users of PHP are encouraged to test this version carefully, and report any bugs in the bug tracking system.

As this is a release candidate, it is not valid for production use but any testing that can be done is appreciated. There's several new features coming in PHP 5.6 including constant scalar expressions, variadic functions, argument unpacking, "use const"/"use func" and many more. Check out this page in the manual for full details and code example of each. As always, you can download this preview release from the QA downloads page or here for the Windows binaries.

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php56rc1 language release candidate features download test

Link: http://www.php.net/archive/2014.php#id2014-06-19-1


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