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Resetting PHP 6

Apr 14, 2010, 00:03 (1 Talkback[s])
(Other stories by Jonathan Corbet)

"Rightly or wrongly, many in our community see Perl 6 as the definitive example of vaporware. But what about PHP 6? This release was first discussed by the PHP core developers back in 2005. There have been books on the shelves purporting to cover PHP 6 since at least 2008. But, in March 2010, the PHP 6 release is not out - in fact, it is not even close to out. Recent events suggest that PHP 6 will not be released before 2011 - if, indeed, it is released at all.

"PHP 6 was, as befits a major release, meant to bring some serious changes to the language. To begin with, the safe_mode feature which is the whipping boy for PHP security - or the lack thereof - will be consigned to an unloved oblivion; the "register_globals" feature will be gone as well. The proposed traits feature would bring "horizontal reuse" to the language; think of traits as a PHPish answer to multiple inheritance or Java's interfaces. A new 64-bit integer type is planned. PHP was slated to gain a goto keyword (though the plan was to avoid the scary goto name and add target labels to break instead). Some basic static typing features are under consideration. There was even talk of adding namespaces to the language and making function and class names be case-sensitive.

"The really big change in PHP 6, though, was the shift to Unicode throughout. Anybody who is running a web site which does not use Unicode is almost certainly wishing that things were otherwise - trust your editor on this one. It is possible to support Unicode to an extent even if the language in use is not aware of Unicode, but it is a painful and error-prone affair; proper Unicode support requires a language which understands Unicode strings."

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