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End of Support isn't the End of the World

The PHP development team released PHP 5.2.14 last week and with it comes the end of active support for the 5.2 branch. A bit of dissent rippled throughout the community... but is it really a big deal? Contrary to popular belief, downloads from php.net don't come with an expiration date.

There is a lot of legacy code running mission-critical applications. These apps work and are stable so the time, effort, and expense required to upgrade them put doing so very low on a companies' priority lists. A few years ago I worked as a System Administrator for a credit union turned bank; the core processing system was written in PL/I and the ATM switching system was written in COBOL. There are probably more applications written in non-OOP PHP 3 code with register globals running atop a Linux 2.4 kernel than any of us want to acknowledge.

But version numbers are just mile-markers that reference a snapshot of the project at a given time. The development team is continually improving PHP so there will always be a newer, better version just around the corner. If your application is running stable on whatever version you have installed, and you're not using features or extensions that are subject to security or bug fixes in newer versions, then what's the problem? Use the version that works for you (and that your company's compliance officer will let you use).

With that said, don't expect the development team to support your favorite branch forever. PHP is open-source; people are free to participate in its development and do so for a variety of reasons. Just as the resources you can allot to refactoring legacy code are limited, the resources the development team have are limited as well. If you need a version 5.2.15, .16, or beyond then get involved and make it happen.

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