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Why Now It Is a Good Time to Upgrade to PHP 8.3 - The Smooth PHP 8.3 Upgrade Guide

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Updated on: 2024-04-05

Posted on: 2024-04-05

Categories: PHP Tutorials, Current PHP Version

Every time there is a new PHP release announcement, many developers want to upgrade immediately, justifying their decision with the justification that newer versions are more secure.

Upgrading is good when it is a smooth process. The reality of an upgrade process will be soft if you take the proper steps to deal with the many changes made in PHP in the newer release.

Read this short article to learn why now is an excellent time to start upgrading to PHP 8.3 and how you can upgrade your applications to a newer version in a way that can be as smooth as possible.

Here is a video in which I explain why you need to pick the best time to upgrade to a newer PHP version. Check the end of the article for a complete series of tutorial videos about the steps to upgrade to a newer PHP release.




Loaded Article

In this article you will learn about:

Why Now It Is a Good Time to Upgrade Your Applications to use PHP 8.3

The Smooth PHP 8.3 Upgrade Guide

1. Install the Newer PHP Release in the Development Environment

2. Test Your Application in the Development Enviroment with the Newer PHP Release

3. Prepare to Switch to the Newer PHP Version in the Production Environment

4. Switch to the Newer PHP Version in Production When All Tests Pass

PHP 8.3
The PHP 8 logo exibited in the image above is based on the work of Vincent Pointier.

Why Now It Is a Good Time to Upgrade Your Applications to use PHP 8.3

PHP 8.3.0 release date is November 23, 2023. Until March 14, 2024, there were four minor PHP 8.3 releases, each of which implemented several fixes.

Suppose you upgraded your applications to PHP 8.3 when PHP 8.3.0 was released. In that case, the issues fixed by PHP core developers after this release affected your application and may have made parts of your application different from when you used a previous one.

Since there were tens of issue fixes, PHP 8.3.4 is more stable and has fewer issues than previous PHP 8.3 releases. So, your applications are less likely to be affected by any remaining issues that the latest release may still have.

Here is a video on which I explain why you need to pick the best time to upgrade to a newer PHP version. Check the end of the article if you want to see a complete series of tutorial vidoes about the steps to do smooth upgrade to a newer PHP release.

The Smooth PHP 8.3 Upgrade Guide

1. Install the Newer PHP Release in the Development Environment

The first thing that you need to be aware is PHP is not perfect. So there will always exist issues to fix. Given that you need to be ready to test your PHP applications as much as possible to figure how if existing issues affect your application.

So first you need to install in your development environment the exact PHP 8.3 release you will want to use in production.

2. Test Your Application in the Development Enviroment with the Newer PHP Release

You need to test your application as much as possible in a safe environment, in which, if something does not work, you can fix it before you upgrade the PHP version in your production environment.

Ideally, it would be best to have test scripts to perform automated tests quickly.

If you do not have automated test scripts, you should develop tests for the most critical parts of your application.

Usually, the critical parts are those that deal with people's lives and money. For instance, if you have an e-commerce site, you may need to test the sales and payment systems.

If you do not have automated test scripts and do not have much time to develop them, you can always resort to human testing. This means that you or your colleagues will test the application using the critical parts.

In this case, you need to list all critical parts' features and test one feature at a time.

Human testing is not ideal because humans sometimes make mistakes when they ignore details, but it is better than no testing. 

3. Prepare to Switch to the Newer PHP Version in the Production Environment

It would be best if you kept in mind that you are a human and can make mistakes like all of us.

Despite your extensive testing, there may be some cases that you did not test. In this situation, you must be ready to downgrade to the current PHP version if something important escapes your tests and your application stops working after your PHP release upgrade in the production environment.

Let's call downgrading plan B. Ideally, you should be able to upgrade to a newer PHP version and downgrade if you figure something went wrong due to missed cases that were not tested.

Before the upgrade, make sure you suspend your application and then create a backup copy of your application's database so that you can restore the database data in the new hosting service.

4. Switch to the Newer PHP Version in Production When All Tests Pass

Remember that in specific hosting environments, you do not have control over the PHP version you will use.

I. Virtual Hosting

Switching between two hosting services is the safest way to upgrade and still downgrade if you are using a virtual hosting environment.

The current hosting service uses the stable PHP release, while the new hosting service provides the newer PHP version you want to upgrade. If something goes wrong, you can return to the old hosting service.

Before the upgrade, make sure you suspend your application and then create a backup copy of your application's database so that you can restore the database data in the new hosting service.

II. Dedicated Server or Virtual Private Server Hosting

If you use a dedicated server hosting service or a virtual private server (VPS), you have more control over the versions you use on the server.

In that case, you need to check if the server provides both the current PHP release and the newer PHP release that you want to upgrade.

III. Cloud Hosting

If you use a cloud hosting service, the migration can be smoother as you need to switch the containers used between two virtual machines, one for the current PHP release and the other for the newer release.

IV. Final Steps

If you switch between two hosting services, you must also restore the database backup data.

In the new PHP release environment, you should take your application out of the suspended list more when everything is migrated.

V. PHP Release Upgrade Video Tutorials

There is a series of videos on YouTube that you can watch to learn all the steps to upgrade to any newer PHP release.




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