PHP Compatibility Checker, a plugin that verifies PHP 7 compatibility on WordPress websites, is available for download from the WordPress Plugin Repository. The checker can be used to test if an existing codebase is compatible when upgrading to PHP 7.
“During our work with PHP 7 we developed a tool to help us evaluate compatibility, the ‘PHP Compatibility Checker’ plugin, which we are making available to everyone, to help drive adoption of PHP 7 and bring the promise of dramatically faster WordPress websites and web services to users across the web,” said Taylor McCaslin, Product Manager at WP Engine.
PHP is the most popular web development language in the world, powering 84 percent of all websites. PHP 7 is revolutionary in that it is the most significant update to the scripting language since 2004.
While PHP 7 offers a slew of updates for developers, including improved error handling, new operators, and more, its main appeal is speed. It shows a 2-3 times speed improvement compared to PHP 5.6 and 50 percent better memory consumption. Despite the benefits, however, we can expect its adoption to be gradual.
“Today, only 1.7 percent of WordPress websites worldwide run PHP 7. More should enjoy the benefits of this new PHP 7 series. However, before that can happen, there’s a lot of work to be done on popular themes and plugins before they are ready,” McCaslin said.
There are still backwards incompatibility changes that plugin and theme developers need to account for before moving forward.
The WordPress core team has been preparing for PHP 7 since September 2015. WordPress currently supports PHP 7, however, will continue to support older versions of PHP due to the significant usage numbers. The core team has been and will continue to work with hosting providers to get their users to the most current version of PHP.