PHP versions in WordPress

WordPress, once again, is so far behind the eight-ball when it comes to minimum required PHP versions. Many of us thought that things were finally going to change with the Servehappy Feature Project and even though this was advancing slower than many had hoped, it was moving along, it was a part of the bigger project, there was talk about it, etc. Once the minimum required version was increased to PHP 5.6.20 with WordPress 5.2, it appears that everything came to a screeching halt. The move to PHP 7.0 was scheduled to be made later in 2019, but it never happened, and once again we’re stuck on a PHP version so old it should only be viewed in the PHP museum.

I can’t even image how taxing it must be for individuals (like Alain Schlesser and Felix Arntz—just to name a couple since I’ve gotten to know them over the years and followed their involvement with the project) to be pushing such a project, getting it off the ground, making great first strides just to then be shot down. I’d like to see more buy-in from companies, be it hosting or plugin businesses, in the WordPress world. For some reason, Automattic never seemed to have an interest in PHP, the ecosystem or the broader community even though they are the stepping-stone into PHP development for many people—I’m speaking from personal experience here.

Just yesterday WooCommerce announced it’ll be PHP 7.2+ going forward, while this might seem like a big step at first, it’s a very Automattic move: Instead of trying to push the adoption of “modern” PHP, they move to something people are already using. In my opinion, the correct decision would have been to move to PHP 7.4 now (and nudge those still on 7.2 and 7.3 to upgrade) while having a clear path to 8.x.