Laravel, which bills itself as the “PHP Framework For Web Artisans,” has announced that version 5.5 will require PHP 7. Laravel 5.5 is scheduled for release in July, 2017. If you’re using an older version of PHP for your applications, now’s the time to start thinking about updating.
PHP 7 was first released in December 2015 and brought with it a host of improvements. Most importantly, PHP 7 offers considerably better performance than earlier versions of the language. It’s not unusual for PHP-based projects to see latency improvements of around 50% when they upgrade to PHP 7. As a side effect of improved performance, upgrading to PHP 7 can also significantly reduce server load, allowing for a more efficient use of infrastructure resources.
Even if you aren’t enthusiastic about upgrading your Laravel-based applications to PHP 7, you still need to think about upgrading to PHP 7 in the near future. PHP 5.6 reaches its end-of-life in 2018. PHP 5.5 is already unsupported. Failing to update to a supported version of PHP means that the language on which your applications are based will no longer receive maintenance and security updates.
In addition to requiring PHP 7, Laravel 5.5 will be a long-term release (LTS) — the first since the release of Laravel 5.1, which will soon reach the end of its support window. Long-term releases are supported with bug fixes for two years and security updates for three years.
Laravel is a hugely popular PHP framework that offers an elegant and speedy developer experience. Developers love Laravel, in part, because it sits at the center of a mature ecosystem of tools and modules. Valet provides a minimalist environment that allows developers to quickly create a development environment that supports Laravel and many applications built with Laravel. Homestead is a cross-platform development environment based on Vagrant.
In addition to excellent free tooling, the Laravel developer community has created premium platforms and tools based on the framework. One of my favorites is Laravel Spark, which I’ve written about before. Laravel Spark is a SaaS application framework with a “batteries included” approach that integrates many of the standard features of a full-fledged SaaS app. Spark allows developers to concentrate on what’s unique about their application, and not on creating standard features like authentication, subscription payments, and upgrades.
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