Dev Branch

EP29 – Breaking Changes: WordPress 6.3 Drops PHP5

July 7, 2023

The era of PHP5 support is coming to an end, marking a new phase in WordPress development. We’ll discuss how this shift from PHP5 to a minimum PHP7 support will impact both the end-users and the WordPress ecosystem at large. The episode will include the implications for those still using PHP5, and the benefits of the change, including reduced memory usage and improved security. Additionally, we’ll analyze how different hosting services have already been adapting to this new standard. This is a critical episode for anyone running a WordPress site and will provide key insights on managing this substantial transition.

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Episode Transcription

Jason Tucker
This is episode number 29 of DevBranch. Ranking changes, WordPress 6.3 drops, PHP 5.

Jason Tucker
I’m Jason Tucker. Just go over to my website, jasontucker.blog.

Jason Tucker
There’s links there. You’ll find me. Go hang out. (silence)

Jason Cosper
And y’all know who it is, it’s your boy Jason Cosper,

Jason Tucker
And you can listen to us as a podcast.

Jason Cosper
I’m Jason Cosper, aka Fat Mullenweg, back at it again on the world’s most influential WordPress podcast.

Scott Kingsley Clark
Hello there, how’s it going?

Jason Cosper
Yeah.

Jason Tucker
Go over to wherever it is you can find great podcasts and go hang out with us there. And Discord, another place where you can come and talk with us. We would appreciate that.

Jason Cosper
Hang out, have a few laughs. It’s a, it’s a good time. Yeah. SKC in the place to be.

Jason Tucker
Yup. And we have Scott. Hey Scott, how’s it going?

Jason Tucker
Awesome.

Scott Kingsley Clark
Hello there, how’s it going? Keep it going. [ Pause ]

Jason Tucker
Yeah. We were just talking about this during the pre-show that I don’t,

Jason Cosper
Thank you.

Jason Tucker
you know, there, there’s some type of weird little contract or something that we have going on with between Scott and say, they’re not allowed to be on the same show at the same time, but we’re able to swap them out whenever we need to. So that, That’s what’s happening here for all of the listeners. Is that a Scott Scott’s coming to hang out with us today? (laughing)

Jason Cosper
Yeah, Se was bummed.

Scott Kingsley Clark
And I– SK, see you later.

Jason Tucker
(laughing)

Jason Cosper
She was saying in our group chat that she couldn’t make it.

Jason Tucker
(laughing)

Jason Cosper
And I had said, well, I guess it’s more like SKC

Jason Tucker
(laughing) (laughing)

Jason Cosper
some other time.

Jason Tucker
Oh

Jason Cosper
Wow.

Jason Tucker
(laughing) (laughing)

Scott Kingsley Clark
Well, I don’t want to make you all bummed, but like, Say was like my favorite one. JK. [LAUGHS] No, y’all are great. [LAUGHS]

Jason Tucker
Wow.

Jason Cosper
Wow.

Jason Tucker
Oh man.

Scott Kingsley Clark
Just figured it’d be funny. No, I love Jason as well.

Jason Cosper
Starting out with the hot takes. We can do that in the post-show, definitely.

Scott Kingsley Clark
And you’ll have to fight out to decide which Jason I’m referring to as the one I like as

Jason Tucker
(laughs) So we’re gonna talk about WordPress 6.3

Scott Kingsley Clark
well.

Jason Tucker
and it dropping PHP 5. And we had some folks on the socials who were like, PHP 5 is old. What’s going on here? And I’m like, I’m looking at it going from the standpoint of like, dude, PHP is, PHP 5 is very old.

Jason Cosper
Yeah. Right. Yeah.

Jason Tucker
Like this should have been dropped a while ago. Like a couple of years back probably. What’s going on?

Scott Kingsley Clark
– Yeah, it’s bananas because PHP 5 is, like you said,

Jason Tucker
(laughs)

Scott Kingsley Clark
super old, but it’s been discontinued. They don’t have security updates, they don’t have any active support.

Jason Cosper
[INAUDIBLE]

Scott Kingsley Clark
It’s been years since they’ve had active support,

Scott Kingsley Clark
like four or five years, I don’t know, something like that. And it’s also crazy because a lot of the very popular plugins for WordPress have upped their minimum versions

Scott Kingsley Clark
themselves to like 7.2, 7.4, WooCommerce,

Jason Tucker
Scott Kingsley Clark
lots of these big plugins that are integral to sites

Scott Kingsley Clark
are already way ahead of that curve because they have the ability, well, we can just up our minimum version, but WordPress core itself kind of has a little bar they’ve set for themselves. And that means that they’ve got to get at least 5% or less of usage share before they drop a PHP version from support. I feel like sure that makes sense, but for security and everything else in the sanity

Jason Tucker
(laughs)

Scott Kingsley Clark
of everyone else, like we probably should try like to help push along more people.

Jason Tucker
Uh-huh.

Jason Cosper
[ Pause ]

Scott Kingsley Clark
I know hosts, I’m working at Pagely and GoDaddy. Hosts have a lot to do on their on their side to bring people up as well, lift all the boats. But it’s it’s tough. It’s tough out there when there isn’t as much of a push for WordPress core because the 5%

Jason Tucker
Okay.

Scott Kingsley Clark
is still not yet reached for 7.0. (laughs)

Jason Cosper
Right. Yeah, that’s that’s the kind of the wild thing about

Jason Cosper
this is a few folks when Tucker posted the the show announcement

Jason Cosper
that that’s what we’d be talking about, or like, the the PHP world has moved on to PHP eight. And, you know, oh, that’s been dropped in some random ass CMS since, like version 4.0. And

Scott Kingsley Clark
[ Pause ]

Jason Cosper
we’re on like this, I’d never even heard of this, this CMS before, and this person was like, throwing it out there. And

Jason Cosper
but it was interesting in that, like, all of these people who are very serious about PHP are just kind of like, Hey, man, the

Jason Cosper
PHP world has moved on, like, you know, you’re still

Scott Kingsley Clark
That’s the plan.

Jason Cosper
supporting like the sevens, like, come on.

Jason Cosper
Uh, you know, but, uh, I mean, I think six, three is also going to be, uh, if it already hasn’t, and someone correct me if I’m wrong, um, going to be dropping,

Jason Cosper
uh, the beta support tag from next to PHP eight and PHP eight one. Right.

Scott Kingsley Clark
Really they aren’t totally beta now.

Jason Cosper
Yup. Yeah.

Scott Kingsley Clark
does run on WordPress.

Jason Cosper
Yeah.

Scott Kingsley Clark
There’s like a couple of edge cases and a couple of weird scenarios where something

Scott Kingsley Clark
may break. A lot of plugins are already compatible themselves, but the beta tag, it’s like they just had

Scott Kingsley Clark
to kind of, the group that manages that side is kind of redefining, okay, what does beta

Jason Cosper
Yeah. I mean, I’ve, I’ve been running all of my sites on PHP8, specifically, you know,

Scott Kingsley Clark
mean going forward? Because if we need to add the beta tag back, we need to know what that means and how to better educate everyone else. Because right now, people don’t want to upgrade to PHP 8 because they’re like, “Well, WordPress doesn’t have compatibility, but it does. It’s running very fine.

Jason Tucker
Yeah.

Jason Cosper
8.1 for for some time now. But one of the the great strengths of WordPress in that, okay, like, you know, the number that’s always bandied about like 60,000 plugins, like however many themes that we have, like not all of these plugins support PHP 8. And because you can build

Jason Tucker
Yeah.

Jason Tucker
Yeah.

Scott Kingsley Clark
Yeah.

Jason Cosper
anything with WordPress, thanks to plugins, some folks might be running some super outdated stuff that just is not compatible with PHP 8. And it breaks their site. We over at DreamHost have,

Jason Cosper
you know, because PHP 7.4, which is like the oldest seven, they drop support for that. I mean,

Jason Cosper
and what now WordPress support 7.0. So we’ve got 7.0, one, two,

Jason Cosper
three, and four, that WordPress still supports, but the oldest version that we still support is 7.4. And we have team members

Jason Cosper
who are like, you know, going back and taking patches from eight and, you know, that branch and like backporting them to 7.4

Jason Cosper
to keep the folks who were stuck back in the sevens at least up on something good and secure. It’s a tightrope to walk, again, because officially the project still treats 8.0,

Scott Kingsley Clark
[AUDIO OUT]

Jason Cosper
8.1, and 8.2 as beta, as this kind of experimental thing.

Scott Kingsley Clark
There’s also no way, no insight into individual plugins on what is compatible and what’s not. There’s no great way to say, yeah, my plugin’s PHP8

Scott Kingsley Clark
compatible, or to go and slurp all the plugins up and say,

Scott Kingsley Clark
well, we’re going to tag all these plugins as not PHP8 compatible until they manually go through a check process that gets them compatible.

Scott Kingsley Clark
So it’s very much a wild west still for a lot of people

Scott Kingsley Clark
trying to figure out what plugins will work for them. And there are a couple of solutions out there

Jason Tucker
Yeah. And in the in the chat here, Corey was was mentioning,

Scott Kingsley Clark
that you can scan your plugins and see

Scott Kingsley Clark
if they’re compatible to be able to upgrade, which are very useful. But it’s not a silver bullet because some of those get false positives.

Scott Kingsley Clark
And some of the breakage is notices, like PHP notices. So it just depends on how deep you want to go into that rabbit hole there.

Jason Cosper
No, no.

Scott Kingsley Clark
Technically, yes.

Jason Tucker
Does it still support PHP 6? There’s a Unicode joke in there somewhere.

Jason Cosper
I. Sure, yeah, no, it’s that that is always one of the problems with skipping version numbers like

Jason Tucker
I’m just trying to remember how to say it, because it’s been a couple of years since we even brought that up. (laughs)

Jason Cosper
that is, you know, people go, OK, well, at least they’re still PHP six like folks who just don’t

Jason Cosper
know. End users who are just like, I just want to WordPress

Jason Cosper
on my thing. And I click a button at my host, and it makes a WordPress, like they don’t know what version of PHP they’re

Jason Cosper
on. They don’t. And, you know, in some cases, especially in the case of like managed hosting services, you can argue that

Jason Cosper
like, they shouldn’t have to know what version of PHP they’re on. It just has to be that the thing works, and that’s what matters. But oh god,

Scott Kingsley Clark
(silence) And also, it’s like some of these bigger hosts,

Jason Cosper
it can be really befuddling for end users to figure that sort of thing out.

Scott Kingsley Clark
I should note that some of these bigger hosts, while like for instance, PHP 8 is getting its active,

Jason Cosper
Scott Kingsley Clark
well, its security support ends in November of this year, PHP 8.

Jason Tucker
Wow.

Scott Kingsley Clark
So that means that if you’re not at a host that

Scott Kingsley Clark
has long-term support from a company like Zend or whatever, they’re paying money out to support older PHP 7 versions and everything else,

Scott Kingsley Clark
you are kind of out of luck to make sure that your stuff is secure and updated. You also– if you’re at a host that’s actually

Scott Kingsley Clark
paying attention to this stuff and keeping your stuff secure and updated, they probably are keeping you updated to a newer version. So it’s one of those weird areas, gray areas. But I thought it would be interesting to note that PHP 8 itself was released in 2020.

Jason Cosper
>> Right.

Scott Kingsley Clark
And a lot of these plugins haven’t started really testing

Jason Cosper
(silence)

Scott Kingsley Clark
and getting things ready until the past–

Scott Kingsley Clark
just this year, I would say, this calendar year is when people really started paying attention. I know some of my plugins, I didn’t really mess around with some of the PHP 8 stuff,

Scott Kingsley Clark
because I had to support PHP 5.6. And so it was like, well, I have to choose. And if I support PHP, I break PHP 5.6.

Scott Kingsley Clark
And there’s just a bunch of gotchas there.

Jason Cosper
And the big rub with all of this is, you know, people supporting PHP8, and not a moment too soon,

Jason Cosper
because PHP8 will not have active security support in four more months.

Jason Tucker
Thank you.

Jason Cosper
So now that everybody is finally pushing to be PHP 8 compatible, like we have

Scott Kingsley Clark
Jason Cosper
customers at Dreamhost that are still on PHP 7.4.

Jason Cosper
And we have I hope I don’t get any shit for, for saying this, like we decided

Jason Cosper
with our messaging that we were going to encourage everybody to update to, to PHP 8.1, where available. And just kind of say like, Hey, look,

Jason Tucker
Jason Cosper
we’re going to ask you like you’re still on 7.4. You know, there’s not any security updates or anything like that for this,

Jason Cosper
like we’re, we’re putting patches in where we can. So like,

Jason Cosper
instead of hopping up to 8.0, where you’re very possibly going

Jason Cosper
to not have any security support, any patches, anything like that, if a security issue happens,

Jason Cosper
like, why don’t you go ahead and hop up to 8.1? And, you know, in particular cases, like, we’ll

Scott Kingsley Clark
Jason Cosper
help you work through some of those problems now. But, you know, we’ve got this four-month runway,

Jason Cosper
where our support is, you know, kind of going through it because they’re just struggling to

Scott Kingsley Clark
Yeah, well, it also like 8.0 is out of security in four months, but then a year after that

Jason Cosper
get people up to date and get ahead of this, you know, this 8.0 deadline that’s looming.

Jason Cosper
And here we are talking about WordPress finally dropping support for PHP 5. Yep. >> All right.

Jason Cosper
So, I’m going to go ahead and close this out. I’m going to go ahead and close this out. I’m going to go ahead and close this out. I’m going to go ahead and close this out. I’m going to go ahead and close this out. I’m going to go ahead and close this out. I’m going to go ahead and close this out.

Scott Kingsley Clark
is when PHP 8.1 is out of security updates.

Jason Cosper
I’m going to go ahead and close this out. I’m going to go ahead and close this out. I’m going to go ahead and close this out.

Jason Tucker
Jason Cosper
I’m going to go ahead and close this out.

Scott Kingsley Clark
So it’s like a constant, as soon as you’re done,

Jason Cosper
I’m going to go ahead and close this out. I’m going to go ahead and close this out. I’m going to go ahead and close this out. I’m going to go ahead and close this out.

Scott Kingsley Clark
you’ve got to start cranking on how

Jason Cosper
I’m going to go ahead and close this out.

Scott Kingsley Clark
do we approach the next update and make it easier. So if we can do anything at hosts

Jason Tucker
and a

Scott Kingsley Clark
to make it more formalized process for us on how to test these things, how to roll them out,

Scott Kingsley Clark
using user feedback, everything else like that, that stuff becomes very important. I know that’s what we’re doing a lot at Pagely, at GoDaddy.

Jason Cosper
Right.

Scott Kingsley Clark
Like I know we’ve got most of our customers on 8.0 at Pagely. GoDaddy’s a whole different scenario

Jason Cosper
Right.

Scott Kingsley Clark
’cause we’ve got lots and lots of customers to deal with. And that requires a lot of handholding. So there’s just a big process there

Jason Cosper
Right.

Scott Kingsley Clark
and it doesn’t really end. Soon as you finish one, they’re gonna get your email coming out again

Jason Cosper
Right.

Scott Kingsley Clark
in a year or two saying, “Hey, we gotta do this process again. Remember us.” (laughs)

Jason Cosper
Right. (coughing)

Scott Kingsley Clark
Jason Tucker
I was looking to see if somebody like Freemius or one of these companies that has some place

Jason Tucker
where they’re kind of tapping into, you know, the, the various, you know,

Scott Kingsley Clark
Jason Cosper
Jason Tucker
various WordPress installs and stuff. If there’s something that is showing like a percentage of the WordPress space

Scott Kingsley Clark
[PAUSE]

Jason Tucker
that’s running a particular version of PHP,

Jason Cosper
I’m going to try to find a way to get this to work. Yeah, I, I know that Yoast does a lot around kind of trying to make it more

Jason Tucker
do you guys know of a good place to pull that type of data up? Cause I was digging around to see if I could find something. Cause I’m, I’m super curious as to what version of PHP some of these sites are stuck on and how many of them are PHP four. (laughing)

Scott Kingsley Clark
[LAUGHTER]

Jason Tucker
(laughs)

Scott Kingsley Clark
That’s a good one.

Jason Cosper
Yeah, I know that Yoast does a lot around kind of trying to like, you know, raise, raise the tide for everybody and push because they are one of the more popular plugins in the space that they have set effectively and have like,

Jason Tucker
(laughs)

Scott Kingsley Clark
(laughs)

Jason Cosper
like, nags that pop up. And you know, like the new versions of

Jason Cosper
Yoast won’t run, unless you’re using a particular version of PHP. I don’t know what it’s stuck to now I’m trying to, to

Jason Cosper
find it without making my keyboard too clacky clacky in

Jason Tucker
>> Scott, you said you found a way to get to the bottom of this? You can’t do that.

Jason Cosper
the background. But once I find it, I’ll make sure it makes its way into the show notes. But I know that Yoast has done a lot

Scott Kingsley Clark
[AUDIO OUT]

Jason Cosper
about that. I think also that, and again I’ll have to find this, they did release like a library or something like that that will help other plugin developers to kind of have that same cudgel that they can use on users as well.

Jason Tucker
Scott, you said you found you ended up finding something. Oh.

Scott Kingsley Clark
Well, I mean, there’s just the WordPress core stats. And they tell you that the lowest version that shows up

Jason Tucker
[PAUSE]

Scott Kingsley Clark
on their pie chart is 5.2, and it has 0.2 usage share.

Scott Kingsley Clark
If that is the threshold, then you can expect there’s probably some really low versions of PHP possibly there that just won’t show up

Scott Kingsley Clark
because they’re below the threshold of even a point percentage. Maybe it’s hundreds of a percentage or something or thousands. So it’s really low.

Jason Tucker
Yeah, I think the web host would probably be the one that would at least know because the fact that you know you just have you have

Jason Tucker
that that type of ability to pull that pull that data in but yeah someplace you know I was just curious if there was like somebody who’s actually sharing sharing that type of

Jason Cosper
[AUDIO OUT]

Jason Tucker
data so we talked about we talked about security as being one of these things to worry about like what what were some of the things that we’ve we’ve seen security wise that you know

Jason Tucker
the, the, you know, what’s the, what’s the thing that should scare somebody into giving, you know, 8.1 a try after, after updating all of their stuff. Is there, is there any like big things?

Jason Cosper
I’m looking around to see if we can somehow summon our pal Robert Rowley, because I’m sure he would definitely have a better answer than the one I’m about to give. But, um, yeah, um, as far as that

Jason Cosper
as that goes, like, I, I really see a lot of a lot more in the way of, like,

Jason Cosper
hacks against plugins, hacks against, like, outdated, like, actual, like

Jason Cosper
things and like plugins themes, core, if you’re running, you know, an outdated

Jason Cosper
plugin and you’re you’re stuck to this thing because it only supports you know php5 six or if

Jason Cosper
it it only supports an older version of php like those are the the bigger problems that i see than like necessarily uh someone going directly after um like you know uh oh like you know no one’s

Jason Cosper
patching PHP 7.2, like I’m going to use this exploit, like, like, I mean, I’m

Jason Cosper
sure it happens, but it’s just a lot more prevalent to just scan and look for like,

Jason Cosper
issues with plugins themes, you know, finding some site that’s running a theme

Jason Cosper
that’s still running, or still is like pin to this really old ass version of like revolution slider or something like that. You know,

Jason Tucker
[LAUGHS] Yeah.

Jason Cosper
then then actual PHP issues, but it’s, it’s the possibility of a security exploit. It’s something like, was it Heartbleed that was

Jason Tucker
Yeah. Yeah. Yeah. Yeah.

Jason Cosper
the SSL issue? Or, yeah, you know, it’s, it’s big things like

Scott Kingsley Clark
Sounds familiar You

Jason Cosper
that, that all of a sudden, you know, they’re given a name. And it’s like, oh, all of, you know, oh, there’s this big issue in an old version of PHP. And, you know,

Jason Cosper
whoever discovered the issue, you know, names it something like, I don’t know, because I’m mentally

Jason Cosper
like seven years old, like, butt bleed, or something like that. And, you know, it’s like hemorrhoid or something. And, you know, oh, man, this, this, like, royally, like messes with your

Jason Cosper
site if you’re running something under PHP 7.2. It hasn’t happened, but it could. And that’s,

Jason Tucker
Right.

Scott Kingsley Clark
(silence)

Jason Cosper
that’s kind of like one of the things with staying up to date, staying on top of plugin updates,

Jason Cosper
you know, all this other stuff, where, yeah, I, I feel like I was really long winded there. But I

Jason Tucker
(laughs) Yeah, like I was looking here on like the CVE details

Scott Kingsley Clark
Jason Cosper
think that there is a nugget there please somebody uh help mm-hmm

Jason Tucker
for instance, I put in like PHP 5.6.5,

Scott Kingsley Clark
(silence)

Jason Tucker
but looking here and then looking at the score,

Jason Tucker
you know, you have so many different, you know, things that were pretty high up, I mean, tens, and then you got some 8.3s. Like there’s definitely issues that are out there. And like you were saying, you’re gonna essentially have like drive-by attacks that are just gonna have to be done to kind of figure it out but they’re not gonna do it based off of like which version of PHP they’re using. It’s more along the lines of like looking to see like what brand of lock is on the front door and then deciding if you can break into it or not, you know?

Scott Kingsley Clark
>> Yeah.

Jason Cosper
Right.

Jason Tucker
Is it revolution slider?

Jason Tucker
Okay, well, hey, I’m gonna get into it

Jason Cosper
Re EXAMPLE congregation.

Jason Tucker
and kind of playing with it that way.

Jason Cosper
CS ENCE.

Jason Tucker
So, and the thing is, is like those plugins are very easy to figure out what’s,

Jason Cosper
I be se

Jason Tucker
what plugins are being used because of the fact that you just look for JavaScript that’s running on there

Jason Tucker
and figure out which version it is. And even if they use the name of the version in the path or something like that. So yeah, really just like update your stuff.

Jason Cosper
Match

Scott Kingsley Clark
I think I think I think the fact that like what Jason what Cosper is saying I think that

Jason Cosper
at

Jason Tucker
(laughs)

Jason Cosper
Sp

Scott Kingsley Clark
that the fact that we’re keeping it we’re pushing people to update and we’re trying to be active about it I mean the whole community is trying to keep everyone up to date all

Jason Cosper
Nope.

Scott Kingsley Clark
the hosts are trying to keep everyone up to date I don’t think there’s really any any

Scott Kingsley Clark
people actors who are are purposely trying to keep everyone down because they don’t want

Jason Cosper
Nope.

Scott Kingsley Clark
spend the money or whatever. They know that there’s vectors there that would make them look bad.

Jason Cosper
Nope.

Scott Kingsley Clark
When you get to large hosting companies, hosting companies do not want to have an experience

Jason Cosper
Nope.

Scott Kingsley Clark
like this where there’s a big security breach because of one customer who must have kept

Scott Kingsley Clark
themselves down. We don’t want those sort of things. The act of actively being involved in that update process has prevented some more serious

Scott Kingsley Clark
things that have not really gotten those kind of names, like Heartbleed or whatever in PHP world. So I think also the fact

Scott Kingsley Clark
that you have to think about that, that where the bad actors are coming from, or what they’re attacking, are they attacking individual sites, if they if they’re attacking individual

Scott Kingsley Clark
site, they just want to find a way to get into that one site, they’re going to go and find out what versions of things that are running. And so large sites, large companies are keeping themselves up to date, they have the money. And those are the

Scott Kingsley Clark
the ones that people are trying to go after because they want to get at those things, those valuable high targets, high value targets. And when you think about maybe perhaps the other,

Jason Cosper
Scott Kingsley Clark
the flip side of that is, well, if I’m not going after one, how can I get the most people possible? Then you look at the people that are running the most of,

Jason Cosper
Scott Kingsley Clark
the most people that are running these very popular plugins and what versions of those plugins are they running? What PHP versions are they using?

Scott Kingsley Clark
What code? Okay, so I look at that plugin,

Scott Kingsley Clark
I know they’re using this code. How can I break into this one function? And so they have to dig into this series of rabbit holes.

Scott Kingsley Clark
Each one offers a different scenario of, well, that one’s fixed ’cause most of these sites are running PHP 7 or whatever. Like all the vectors start closing up

Jason Tucker
Scott Kingsley Clark
as you get at least their plugins updated,

Scott Kingsley Clark
the WordPress updated, the PHP updated, all various software updated on the servers. All those things individually are a lot of effort

Scott Kingsley Clark
to make sure you’re keeping them up to date,

Jason Cosper
[AUDIO OUT]

Scott Kingsley Clark
but doing one or two of those things can vastly improve your chances at not getting attacked by those sort of bad actors. So that is one of the reasons why we don’t have those concrete examples of, well, this is why you need to update because you don’t want this XYZ to happen. We can’t actually give you a good example of that happening at large scale.

Jason Tucker
Yeah. >> Yeah.

Jason Cosper
Yeah, I was gonna say that this is yet another plug for the plugin that I recently dropped in the WordPress repository, which is PLU Redux, Plugin Last Updated Redux.

Jason Tucker

Jason Cosper
If you’re working with an old plugin, if you’re, you know, working with something that maybe hasn’t seen an update in the past, you know, two years, which is where it starts like dropping warnings and adding stuff to site health check.

Jason Cosper
And there’s even a WP CLI command where you can kind of audit like your old plugins as well.

Jason Cosper
Um, like, um, we, um, I, I have, um, kind of. Release this in part because, um, we’re using it internally, uh, at dream host to like, uh, show customers like, Hey, you’ve got some old stuff,

Jason Cosper
like running on your sites.

Jason Cosper
Like, please start, you know, uh, start updating this, um, start, um, you know, moving to something that is a little more modern.

Jason Cosper
that’s in the in the site health check, it will list off the plugins for you and say, Hey, if if you have an old plugin

Jason Cosper
listed here, go check out the WordPress plugin repository and

Jason Cosper
see if you can find something that’s more actively developed

Jason Cosper
that has similar functionality. Because, you know, why, why be sitting on this plugin that is two, three, five years old, when

Jason Cosper
you know, you could be using something that actually has like

Jason Cosper
care and attention being paid to it. I know we’ve got a I know

Scott Kingsley Clark
Jason Cosper
we’ve got a few minutes left. I don’t want to cut you off, Scott.

Jason Cosper
But I kind of want to get into like, who, who is to blame for us moving so slowly on dropping support for these old versions of PHP. Like I said, we’ve got, you know, all of the sevens right now, for PHP that are still being supported. Yoast

Jason Cosper
report, I found their the report when they said that anything under PHP 7.2,

Scott Kingsley Clark
Silence.

Jason Cosper
they were gonna, you know, tell customers like, sorry, this plugin won’t run

Jason Cosper
unless you’re running PHP 7.2. So like, who, who, I mean, like, you know, hosts like GoDaddy, hosts like DreamHost, WP Engine, you know, SiteGround, stuff like

Jason Cosper
that they do a pretty good job of, you know, staying ahead,

Jason Tucker
Okay.

Jason Cosper
trying to keep customers up. I know that it’s a little trickier

Scott Kingsley Clark
[AUDIO OUT]

Jason Cosper
in like, the shared land. So do either y’all have have any

Jason Tucker
Okay.

Jason Cosper
feelings, opinions on kind of who’s, who’s keeping us down

Jason Tucker
Okay.

Jason Cosper
who’s keeping us on these, these old ass versions of PHP? Bob. Right?

Scott Kingsley Clark
Well, I think as an example here of WordPress 6.3 increasing the minimum version, you’re seeing a lot of foot traffic all over the world trying

Scott Kingsley Clark
to say, OK, well, we probably should update because we need to.

Jason Cosper
– Right.

Scott Kingsley Clark
Because the software we’re using,

Jason Cosper
[ Pause ]

Scott Kingsley Clark
we’re not going to be able to use the latest versions because they’re increasing the minimum version. And I think– so part of the blame could be probably WordPress core itself not pushing that envelope a little bit in the sense of we

Scott Kingsley Clark
need to do this for the greater good.

Jason Tucker
Uh-huh.

Scott Kingsley Clark
And part of the blame would be the inherent problem itself

Jason Tucker
Mm-hmm.

Jason Cosper
Right.

Scott Kingsley Clark
of people running these sites and not knowing what they’re running.

Scott Kingsley Clark
So like you get a car from the dealership

Scott Kingsley Clark
and like me, I don’t really deal with cars. There are car people who love messing with their mechanic and stuff and doing all the things inside of their cars and stuff.

Scott Kingsley Clark
But for me, I get a car and if it’s broken, I take it in and get it fixed. And I don’t think about, well, you’re not using the latest version of the Wiper Blade

Jason Cosper
Sure. Right. Okay. So, what’s the next step? So, the next step is to create a new project.

Scott Kingsley Clark
technology or whatever. Because, well, the current Wiper works fine. But maybe I don’t know that that current Wiper is prone to breaking off and hitting someone else’s windshield and breaking through and killing people.

Jason Tucker
(laughing)

Scott Kingsley Clark
I don’t know that, but I don’t think about that.

Jason Tucker
(laughs)

Scott Kingsley Clark
And so I think it’s kind of hard to place

Scott Kingsley Clark
the blame on the people that are running their sites. But at the same time, we’re kind of at a catch-22 there.

Jason Cosper
Right.

Scott Kingsley Clark
They’re the ones who would say, “I want this,”

Scott Kingsley Clark
to their hosts, and say, “I want the newer version of PHP. “Can you get me on it?” The hosts are trying to figure out, “How do we get these people on it? “It’s gonna take a lot of work “because we have a lot of work to do there.”

Scott Kingsley Clark
And they may not want to update. But it’s a two-way street at that level, on the host level.

Jason Tucker
Yeah, I think I think also just have giving the customer the ability to run tests to determine whether or not

Jason Tucker
you know, it’s gonna work and you know even having the even have the web host be proactive in

Jason Tucker
Doing that test for them and then saying like hey we ran your you ran your site through this and found that You know, it does run on here We’re gonna upgrade you you have like 24 hours or a week or whatever to like click. No

Jason Tucker
or we’re just gonna upgrade you the latest and greatest. Maybe something like that might be the way

Jason Cosper
>> Thank you.

Jason Tucker
to approach it as well. But yeah, there’s, you know, and you also have just like old plugins

Scott Kingsley Clark
[ Pause ]

Jason Tucker
that just haven’t been updated that no one’s even thought about upgrading ’cause they don’t even understand how the plugins work. You know, the developer built the website for them. They threw it in their lap and said, “Okay, it’s however many thousands of dollars “for this website, “and you didn’t buy the maintenance agreement with us.” So good luck. And now that person has to, yeah, now that person, you know,

Jason Cosper
right?

Jason Tucker
randomly just either goes in there and updates a couple of plugins and then the

Jason Tucker
website breaks and they have to call up the web host to, to like roll back to a previous version. And they, you know, they roll back to that, to that backup. And now they’re like scared to death of updating. And I get it. I get it. I mean,

Jason Tucker
I get people all the time at work who won’t update their phones because they’re scared that it’s going to break, you know, their, their favorite game or their favorite whatever. And it’s like, yeah, I get it.

Jason Tucker
You know, you’re, you’re, you’re sitting, yeah. And there’s like,

Scott Kingsley Clark
That’s my wife. (laughing)

Jason Tucker
I don’t want to update that. And it’s like,

Jason Tucker
but they also don’t want to get a new, a new phone itself because they think that they’re going to lose all their

Jason Cosper
I also feel like maybe, and I think that, you know, both, both of y’all are right.

Jason Tucker
stuff too. So yeah, it’s a, it’s an, it’s an interesting battle that you’re going to have to as,

Jason Tucker
as a web host or as even somebody who’s providing plugins or plugin support, Trying to get those folks to be updated to the latest and greatest is a very tricky one.

Scott Kingsley Clark
Okay.

Jason Cosper
But also, I think that we still have this proliferation, and I’m not necessarily saying it’s bad. I think that anybody who wants to be able to, like, you know, get online and make themselves a site, I don’t know, with the exception of like fascists and racists should be able to. You know, transphobes too, fuck those people.

Jason Tucker
(laughing) (dog barking)

Jason Tucker
(laughs) [LAUGHTER]

Jason Cosper
So, but any anybody besides those folks should be able to put a site online. And there are bargain basement hosts that are like, hey, a buck a month, and we’ll we’ll give you web hosting. And, you know, they’re like, oh, we’ll make up we’ll make up for it on volume, but they’re not bringing in enough revenue to hire the support people that they need for doing these pushes on, you know, getting folks up to date on PHP.

Jason Tucker
Okay.

Jason Tucker
Okay.

Scott Kingsley Clark
Okay.

Scott Kingsley Clark
Jason Tucker
Okay.

Jason Cosper
I’m not saying it’s like exclusively their fault, but I definitely think that there is a fumble that’s happening here that is causing problems for, you know, users causing problems for just generally for folks there, you know, around the web, just, you know, they want to stay up to date, but they necessarily, you know, they’re not going to be able to do that.

Jason Cosper
you know, they’ve got a beater to use the car analogy.

Jason Cosper
They’ve got a beater and the oil light is on and the check engine light is on and they can’t afford to go get an oil change.

Scott Kingsley Clark
[Silence from 00:00 to 00:40]

Jason Cosper
They can’t afford to like even take the car to their brother who can do an oil change for him because they need four quarts of oil and oil is really damn expensive right now.

Jason Tucker
Where do I even buy oil?

Jason Cosper
And you know, they’re… Yeah, exactly. Exactly.

Jason Tucker
Do I drive my car to get the oil?

Jason Cosper
Like, oh yeah. Right.

Jason Tucker
But I have to drive my car there. What do I do?

Jason Cosper
Right. And like your, your brother-in-law will change your oil for a tall boy,

Jason Tucker
Yeah. Uh-huh.

Jason Cosper
but it’s like, you know nice, nice and easy, but you know, you can’t

Jason Cosper
even scrape that together. Like you’re, you’re just trying to keep this thing afloat and hope it doesn’t all burn down on you.

Jason Cosper
Like those, those are the people and, and really, you know, some of the

Jason Cosper
the most delicate members of this ecosystem who are, you know, just trying to stay online that are

Jason Cosper
maybe holding us back a little. And I’m not like, you know, going to point a finger at them and say

Jason Cosper
like, shame, shame. But, you know, it’s one of those things that at that point, like, at what

Jason Tucker
>> Yeah.

Jason Cosper
point do we say like, okay, well, you know, in your holding us back a little too much. I mean,

Jason Cosper
that yes, Yoast post. I like the way that rolls off the tongue, but that, that yes, post that I’m

Scott Kingsley Clark
(laughs)

Jason Cosper
going to make sure makes it into the show notes. In November of last year, you know, they dropped support for anything lower than PHP 7.2. And they said at that

Jason Cosper
time, that PHP 7.2 was like 12.1% of all WordPress installs,

Jason Cosper
anything lower PHP 7.2, or and lower was 12%, like, you know,

Jason Cosper
12% of 43% of the web. And I’m sure that that number is gotten smaller. I hope to hell it’s gotten smaller, but I mean, (laughs)

Jason Tucker
So one last thing I wanted to mention here is livelihood.

Jason Cosper
(murmurs)

Jason Cosper
(murmurs) (murmurs)

Jason Tucker
there’s, there is a bit of, um, you,

Jason Cosper
Mm-hmm.

Jason Tucker
you could update your website and totally break it.

Jason Tucker
And now you’re not selling the tchotchkes that you make, the, the things that you make, the, you’re the thing that you’re paying your,

Jason Cosper
All right.

Jason Tucker
for, you know, your kids, uh, you know, college tuition with because you went in and updated a plugin and now it doesn’t

Jason Cosper
(murmurs)

Jason Tucker
work. I mean,

Jason Cosper
Right.

Jason Tucker
I’ve updated form plugins and had the form plugin no longer work.

Jason Tucker
And then I’ve had sponsors try to get to me and say, Hey, I’ve been trying to email you through your form cause you don’t have your, your email address and you on your website. And I can’t get,

Jason Tucker
I can’t get to you to give you money. You know what I mean? So it’s like,

Jason Tucker
there’s an, and I know what I’m doing,

Jason Tucker
but I’m also not going on my own form and filling out a form every week to make sure that the form’s working. Um,

Jason Tucker
just like these folks probably don’t go on their own website to try to go and

Scott Kingsley Clark
[AUDIO OUT]

Jason Tucker
buy a particular product, um, to make sure that it works every single week. So there’s, I don’t know, it seems like there’s, there’s, there’s a lot to be, you know, the, I can, I, I can sympathize with the people that don’t update their stuff just because of the fact that it could break things. And especially if you have automatic updates turned on, which you should,

Scott Kingsley Clark
I do want to note one thing.

Jason Cosper
– Okay.

Jason Tucker
but you know, Uh huh.

Scott Kingsley Clark
So hosts have tooling that they can run tests on. So when you’re upgrading PHP versions,

Jason Tucker
Okay.

Scott Kingsley Clark
hey, is this site up? Is this site down? Is there error on this page?

Scott Kingsley Clark
All sorts of things. We need better tooling for Joe on the street, who’s got a roofing company. And they don’t know what’s going on,

Scott Kingsley Clark
but they want to keep their site up to date. They want to be able to know, oh, if I update this, will it work? Well, WordPress core hosts, everyone

Scott Kingsley Clark
should bind together and create some sort of way that we can all feel better about updating. So it runs a series of tests somehow, where we can have the new version of WordPress

Scott Kingsley Clark
running alongside of an old version of WordPress to do the initial test to say, is this working? Same with plugins, same with other things. So you can have these sort of ways

Jason Cosper
Scott Kingsley Clark
and it have ways like people are running WooCommerce or forms plugins or whatever to be able to say, I wanna run a test, do my forms work, do my, can someone buy stuff?

Jason Cosper
[AUDIO OUT]

Scott Kingsley Clark
because I have to go and do a whole process every time I update to check to see, can I take payments?

Jason Tucker
– No.

Scott Kingsley Clark
Okay, I’ll have to use my actual card,

Scott Kingsley Clark
and then run through the refund process, and it’s just a bunch of extra work. It would be really great if we had a better tooling solution for end users to utilize.

Jason Cosper
Yeah, for people in the hosting space–

Jason Tucker
– Okay.

Jason Cosper
and we’ll try to leave it here– But for people in the hosting space, a plug for the Make WordPress Hosting team.

Jason Cosper
They are really, it’s a bunch of folks from a bunch of different hosts who all hang out in

Jason Cosper
WordPress core Slack and are trying to make the whole hosting ecosystem just better for users,

Jason Cosper
no matter where they’re at. So there’s been a number of folks who’ve gone through there and are

Scott Kingsley Clark
Jason Tucker
[ Pause ]

Jason Cosper
really working hard. They do distributed host test results. So they’ll run the CI tests, basically,

Scott Kingsley Clark
[ Applause ]

Jason Cosper
for new pull requests that get, well, not, I’m sorry, not pull requests ’cause it’s subversion, but y’all know what I mean, that get added,

Jason Cosper
new merges into a track, into a trunk,

Jason Cosper
and we’ll test these new additions to WordPress core, like on actual hosting infrastructure.

Jason Cosper
And there’s a number of hosts that do that and try to make sure that their hosting is compatible

Jason Cosper
with the latest version of PHP, of WordPress, et cetera.

Jason Cosper
And you can see like what versions of PHP

Jason Tucker
[PAUSE]

Jason Cosper
that they’re testing this against as well

Jason Cosper
in the table that they provide. So it’s a really useful thing. Like, you know, we’ve kind of been going on a bit about plugin compatibility, but, you know, WordPress core compatibility, like core is pretty good under PHP 8.1, PHP 8.2. But it’s really that edge case of the plugin that…

Jason Tucker
Yeah. And themes.

Scott Kingsley Clark
There’s a lot of nuances for each platform.

Jason Tucker
Yeah. Not all web hosts are created equal. Definitely.

Scott Kingsley Clark
I mean, one host from another may offer a lamp or some solution that’s very similar but because their configuration is different.

Jason Tucker
Well, that’s about it. Do you think, I think we, we, you think we, we, we, we did a show.

Jason Cosper
I think we did a thing, absolutely.

Jason Tucker
– Yeah, I think it showed, so awesome.

Jason Cosper
Alright, thanks for hanging out with us on DevRel.

Jason Tucker
Well, thank you very much for hanging out with us. We really appreciate it. If you find this particular topic

Jason Tucker
or things like this interesting, feel free to go and share it out for us. We’d really appreciate that. Here’s our outro.

Jason Cosper
As always you can subscribe at WPwatercooler.com/subscribe

Jason Cosper
We’re on Apple podcasts, Google podcasts, Stitcher, Spotify, and YouTube Yeah, and as always come hang out with us in discord. Alright folks. Talk to y’all later

Jason Cosper
Later!

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3 responses to “EP29 – Breaking Changes: WordPress 6.3 Drops PHP5

  1. Peter Hebert Avatar

    @jasontucker @boogah @wpwatercooler meanwhile, the PHP world has moved on to #PHP8
    php8

  2. Jason Cosper Avatar

    @peterhebert @jasontucker @wpwatercooler What are you hoping to get out of this interaction?

  3. Jason Tucker Avatar

    @peterhebert @boogah @wpwatercooler the minimum requirement moved to 7.

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