What’s New in PHP 7.4 Beta Release

The beta version of PHP 7.4 is released and with it comes a lot of features that developers were waiting for. In the last few years, there has been a lot of work on PHP to improve the language and the latest release contains all those features that many have always wanted to be present in PHP development.

Here in this article, we will discuss some of the core features that you can test with the beta version. The final release is due in November 28th, 2019.  This is the next PHP 7 minor release and this should boost the performance and also improve the code readability and maintainability. Let’s discuss this in more details.

Support for Typed Properties:

The typed properties have been missing in the earlier versions of PHP, but now they are available in PHP 7.4 and by using them, PHP developers can easily declare the type hints to the class variables and properties. This was not possible earlier and the developers had to create setter and getter method to enforce the type contract.

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With this feature, you can declare types on static properties by following the same declaration methods for class properties and variables. This is a great feature and it will make the codes cleaner, free of typing errors and of course more maintainable.

Hash extensions will be available:

In case you are not familiar, the Hash extensions are used for generating all kinds of hashes by using the registered algorithms.  The core developers and release manager proposed that the hashing extension is very important and useful that it should be presented in the same special status and also be available always and should be impossible to disable.

This makes the extension a guarantee for the developers and in case if you are running PHP 7.4, then all these will be available.  Though this is not a major change, it means one less detail that the developers will have to be concerned about when setting up the PHP installations.

Contravariant parameters and covariant returns:

PHP has the most invariant return types and parameters and the super type and subtype should have the same constraint for the return type and the parameter type.  While determining the compatibility of a method with its parent, the engine should use more specific return types and use less specific parameter types as long as the new types accept the types specified by the parents.

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In simple words, a return type can substitute a subtype and a parameter type can substitute one of its supertypes.

The preloading feature:

While working with PHP development, the developers can configure opcache for faster performance. Basically the opcache compiles the code files first and save them in the shared memory to avoid any repetition during compilation in the later stages. This concept of loading the files in opcache is called the preloading.

In PHP 7.4, to carry out preloading, the developers can now specify a single directive opcache.preload in PHP.ini file and then mention the path or name of any single PHP file. Once the file is preloaded, you can use it during your project and in this way, you can easily upload the files and they will also be available permanently for all the requests at any time.

Spread operator in Array expressions:

In PHP 7.4, the developers can use spread operators in arrays. They help to increase the performance and are faster than array_merge. PHP has supported spread operators since PHP 5.6, but this is now available for array expressions.