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PHP version 5.3 is now the most used version, just ahead of 5.2
Posted by Matthias Gelbmann on 21 March 2013 in News, PHP, Server-side Languages
PHP 5.3 has been released in June 2009, so it took a while to gain that level of popularity. End of support for PHP 5.2 has been declared in December 2010, but is was still the most popular version until now. Version 5.3 will enter the end-of-life cycle in March 2013. Version 5.4, used by only 3.0%, is now considered state-of-the-art.
Adoption of PHP versions has often been criticized as being particularly slow. It is a pain for developers of frameworks, CMS's and other libraries to support outdated PHP versions, just because they run on so many servers.
But is PHP really worse than other languages when it comes to adopting new versions? The most used Perl version on web servers is 5.8, released in July 2002. The most used Python version on web servers is 2.4, released in November 2004. By comparison, the popular PHP versions are quite recent.
Of course, the main criticism of PHP is not the adoption rate of new versions, but its alleged deficiencies as programming language. But, as the saying goes, there are only two types of programming languages, the ones that are heavily criticized, and the other ones that are rarely used. Considering that 78.8% of all websites run on PHP, the vast majority of the PHP bashing is probably published on some PHP-based forum, blog or CMS, which totally dominate our content management systems survey.
Another aspect to consider when looking at the usage of new PHP versions, is the impressive speed at which the language evolves. Many would say that's because there is so much room to improve. Nevertheless, the last five years or so saw implementation of namespaces, lambda functions and closures, PHP archives, traits, and many more additions to the language. There are few popular languages that evolve at that speed, and a logical consequence of that could be a somewhat slower adoption rate of these new versions, as developers need time to make use of them in their products.
It's not difficult to predict that PHP as a language will continue to dominate web development in the near future. What will be more exciting is to watch what new versions of PHP will look like.
Joseph Scott on 22 March 2013
WordPress.org collects stats about WordPress installs, you can see it at http://wordpress.org/about/stats/
For WordPress installs it lists PHP 5.2 as still the most common PHP version used, at 62.5%. PHP 5.3 is second, but at only 34.2%.
Spudley on 25 March 2013
The irony is that with 5.5 coming out soon, we're going to see a position where 5.3 finally starts getting popular just as it is also declared end-of-life.
The main reason it's important to upgrade is not to take advantage of new features, but to avoid being hit by security problems that won't be fixed in deprecated versions.
But this is also the main barrier to upgrading. Particularly with the move from 5.2 to 5.3, there were a lot of old features that were deprecated because they were inerently insecure. Software that still relies on these features can't be upgraded to 5.3 without being fixed first, and many site owners are unwilling (or unable) to do that.
The end result is that a significant proportion of the sites still running 5.2 (and 5.1) are woefully insecure.
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