Perch 2.3.4 Health Check

Our latest Perch Release includes a new section in your Diagnostics Report, the Health Check. If you are running an old version of PHP this is going to start nagging you about it, and here is why.

We have posted previously about how PHP 5.2 has reached end of life. This means that it no longer receives security updates from PHP.

Perch currently requires PHP 5.2 as a minimum, and we believe that around 1 in 6 sites are running on 5.2. That means that 1 in 6 sites are slower than they need to be, and are running on a potentially insecure version of PHP. This makes us sad.

If you are on shared hosting, upgrading to a newer PHP is likely to involve simply raising a support ticket with the host. They will then move the site to a server running PHP 5.4 or even 5.5. Your site will gain an immediate benefit in terms of speed, and you can be confident that if any new security issue with PHP itself arises, there will be patches available that your host can install.

Other than security – why should you upgrade?

In terms of ongoing Perch development supporting 5.2 is a big overhead for us. There are key features added in PHP 5.3 that would make a lot of what we do in Perch faster in development terms – it would be a huge benefit for the product if we could move to 5.3. We would be able to ship code – new features and add ons faster.

In addition, there are now dependencies that we cannot upgrade due to our support for PHP 5.2. One of the big ones being Markdown. Perch has full Markdown support but we are essentially stuck on an older version of the library, because the newer version requires PHP 5.3. Moving to PHP 5.3 would mean we could provide better Markdown support for everyone. This is a story which repeats for all our dependencies as those libraries end their support for PHP 5.2.

We will be dropping support for PHP 5.2 in 2014

We are going to come to a point where we need to drop support for this very outdated version of PHP. The Health Check warning is part of an ongoing campaign to get as many of you as possible upgraded before that point, so you don’t end up in a situation where you can’t update to the latest Perch.

If you are developing a new site and spot that the client is on hosting that is PHP5.2 make sure you get that ticket in to update it now – the same goes with any sites you are maintaining or doing new work on.

Please upgrade – and talk to us about your experience

If your Health Check shows you are running PHP 5.2 then put that request into your host. There should be no issue with upgrading a Perch site, and you may even see a speed increase by doing so. If you do have any concerns however, drop us a line in support.

If you do ask your host to upgrade PHP, we would love you to let us know what happened. I’ve created a Google Form to collate information – it would be really helpful if you could complete it. We’d like to hear all the good stories as well as about hosts that make things difficult, as positive results will give more Perchers confidence to upgrade PHP on their own sites.