Web Development

Farewell, PHP 4

PHPThe end appears to be in sight for the beloved version 4 of PHP, the open-sourced scripting language that allows seasoned programmers and beginners alike to quickly and easily write code for the World Wide Web.

According to the terse announcement on the main PHP Web site:

The PHP development team hereby announces that support for PHP 4 will continue until the end of this year only. After 2007-12-31 there will be no more releases of PHP 4.4. We will continue to make critical security fixes available on a case-by-case basis until 2008-08-08. Please use the rest of this year to make your application suitable to run on PHP 5.

The announcement came on the third anniversary since PHP 5 was launched. Project programmers says that they want to devote their finite resources on the upcoming PHP 6 instead.

According to Rasmus Lerdorf, the original PHP author and now a Yahoo programmer:

"Ending PHP 4 support is driven by practical necessity. We are an open-source project with limited resources. With PHP 6 on the way, we don't have the resources to support three different versions of PHP at the same time."

Detractors to the decision have less kind words to say. According to Matt Mullenweg, the founder of the WordPress blogging software and site, which uses PHP:

"PHP 5 has been, from an adoption point of view, a complete flop. Most estimates place it in the single-digit percentages or at best the low tens."

"Now the PHP core team seems to have decided that the boost their failing product needs is to kill off their successful one instead of asking the hard questions: What was it that made PHP 4 so successful?...Why wasn't PHP 5 compelling to that same audience? Are the things we're doing in PHP 6 crucial to our core audience or simply 'good' language problems to solve?"

News sources:

End of the line for PHP 4 (News.com)

PHP4 EoL - How will Users React? (InfoWorld)

PHP 4 End of Life Announcement  (Slashdot)

Would any PHP programmers out there care to comment on how the announcement to end PHP 4 will affect you?


Stay on top of the latest tech news

Get this news story and many more by subscribing to our free IT News Digest newsletter, delivered each weekday. Automatically sign up today!


Paul Mah is a writer and blogger who lives in Singapore, where he has worked for a number of years in various capacities within the IT industry. Paul enjoys tinkering with tech gadgets, smartphones, and networking devices.


I personally felt the urge to dance in the streets when I saw that announcement. PHP became interesting again with the release of version 5. I have no patience for site hosts who insist on providing only version 4 (and usually a dated version 4 at that), or for package authors who are unable or unwilling to update their code. That behavior reinforces PHP's reputation as a language fit only for hobbyists, regardless of how many wonderful sites are using PHP. I hope we'll see dramatic improvements in the quality of code as package authors embrace the enhanced language that has been waiting patiently for them over the last three years or so. If not, then I'm sure we'll see some excellent project forks as the authors of stagnant projects wander off to grumble at each other about how much better things were in their day and how kids just won't stay off their lawn.


My host has php4/mysql4 or asp.net 2.0/sql server 2005. I think it daft the way they won't provide newer versions on the open source side.


Tell us, how will the announcement to end php 4 affect you.