Reflections and predictions on 2020 PHP changes, by Viktar Barysevich, Head of PHP at Godel Technologies.

1. What’s your perspective on the evolution of PHP since 2010?

The biggest evolution of the language in recent times was the release of PHP 7.0 in 2015 – before that the previous release was PHP 5.0 way back in 2004. A lot changed in those years and V7.0 was like a breath of fresh air to the development community. Prior to this, the main driver for the growth of the language was for the PHP community to watch how other languages were improving their own features, and try to implement these techniques in PHP. So with the release and improvements, it brought to the language we could start thinking critically and strategically on more ambitious plans for the future.

2. What should PHP teams do to stay ahead of the game?

We’ve come a long way so far! In 2010 if you were a developer with both front and back-end skills it was relatively easy to build a good online presence. However, today’s user experience standards mean we have to understand more fully the needs of the customers for back-end development work, and key skills are brought to the table by DevOps and front-end engineers. Still, the more you know, the better – and tools can be learned at any stage, but I would say that the core skills a PHP developer should learn to stay ahead of the game are;
• PHP 5.6+ (including 7.0+)
• Databases
• Docker
• Source control
• Any modern PHP framework (Laravel, Symfony)
• PHPDoc
• Unit Testing/Integration Testing
• Any popular change tracking system

2020 PHP FI

It’s our job as developers to learn new things every day – new tools, systems and wider processes for improving technology. A PHP developer shouldn’t constrain themselves to just the PHP stack because principles of other coding disciplines can be applied to core application development in PHP, ultimately improving code and experience quality.

3. Your biggest 2020 PHP prediction?

Godel’s PHP division was born 4 years ago, and the PHP language more than 20 years ago. Right now we know that next release (PHP v8.0) is planned for Q1 2020, which means that the language is evolving exponentially faster. Based on history I can predict that we will have two or three core releases (e.g. PHP 9.0, PHP 10.0 or better PHP X) in the next decade, to make it faster, flexible and more open for developers.

On the other hand, 10 years ago PHP 5.6 was released and we still have a lot of solutions and websites written in it. In order to move these existing applications into the future securely and effectively, developers have two choices – either move to another language or upgrade the existing one in the new PHP. If the language continues to improve along the trend line that’s been set since 2015, I believe that more development teams will take the second choice.

I would say that the craziest prediction would probably be the collective PHP community thinking about building a compiler to make deployment much faster. The open-source developer community has never been stronger and so, as a community, we can start contributing to such a project on a large scale.

2020 PHP 2