Switching to PHP 8.0 by default

Sunday, November 28th, 2021 - General

Shortly after our previous post, Ioncube released version 11 of their encoder and loader. This is a major release from Ioncube. However, this major release does not include support for PHP 8.0. This speaks volumes to Ioncube’s commitment to staying current with PHP development. We no longer expect PHP 8 support in Ioncube to be any where near imminent.

After this announcement we decided to take a look and see just how many PHP scripts on our servers are using Ioncube encoded files. This is honestly something we should have done many months ago – but again we though PHP 8 support in Ioncube was forthcoming. The results of our findings was “not many” Ioncube encoded scripts exist on our servers.

Given all of this, we’re going to proceed forward with slowly switching accounts over to PHP 8 by default. Effectively, this means that if you’re account is using PHP 7.3 it will be switched to PHP 8.0. We want to introduce this slowly because we’re unsure of how this will affect real world application use. If we start to receive reports of issues, then we will tap the breaks on this.

How can you prepare yourself for this?

The best thing you can do is to make sure your scripts are being kept up to date and that any plugins, themes, components, or extensions are also being maintained by reputable developers and being kept up to date.

One of the more popular scripts/applications used on our servers is WordPress. We’re told that WordPress 5.6 and higher should be compatible with PHP 8.0. WordPress 5.8 is currently the latest branch to be developed and is more likely to be developed with PHP 8.0 in mind. If possible, we would encourage you to insure that your WordPress script is updated to WordPress 5.8.

WordPress has a very extensive plugin and theme system. Keeping these up to date and insuring that they are being maintained by reputable developers. However, it’s just impossible for us to know what plugins and themes are still being maintained and are compatible with PHP 8.0. The best advice here is to contact the developer of the plugin or theme in question. Any PHP developer that’s worth their weight will be aware of PHP 8.0 and PHP 7.3’s end-of-life. If they’re not – then that tells you the plugin or theme probably isn’t that reputable. If you contact them and don’t get a response then that would tell you that the project has been abandoned.

Other scripts and systems that aren’t associated with WordPress would also need to be properly updated and maintained.

If you do encounter an issue after being switched to PHP 8.0 – then that tells you that you have some issues that need to be addressed. Either the script, plugin, theme, component, extension, etc is not up to date or is not being properly maintained.

If you do encounter issues after being switched to PHP 8.0 – we can downgrade you back down. We’re not cutting PHP 7.3 from our systems entirely just yet. But we do want to raise awareness that if your script or application won’t function under PHP 8.0 then you’ve got some issues with that script or application that needs to be addressed.