Author: Manuel Lemos
Updated on: 2023-01-29
Posted on: 2023-01-13
Viewers: 573 (February 2023 until July 2023)
Last month viewers: 79 (July 2023)
Categories: PHP Tutorials, PHP Security, PHP community
Often you want to upgrade to benefit from new PHP features.
Other times you may fear that your applications be abused by badly intentioned people who abuse older version vulnerabilities.
Other times, your customer may require that your code works in newer PHP versions because those are the ones that are available in the hosting environment on which your PHP will run.
Read this article to learn about several tools and methods that can help you to find and fix code that needs to be changed to work in newer PHP versions.
Why Would You Want to Do a Faster Upgrade to a Newer PHP Version
If you developed a PHP project and need to maintain it, sooner or later, you will need to make it work with newer PHP versions.
Newer PHP versions will still be supported by PHP core developers and will have maintenance updates to fix security issues or benefit from the new features.
To benefit from newer PHP version advantages, you may have to upgrade the PHP code of your project.
Since certain features will no longer be supported in more recent PHP versions, you may need to change your PHP code before you upgrade to a newer PHP version.
If you have a large project with a significant amount of PHP code, it may take you a lot of time to make the necessary changes in your PHP code to make it still work in newer PHP versions.
One way to make the PHP code upgrade process work faster is to use tools that automate at least part of the work of making the necessary changes to your code.
What Tools Can You Use to Update Faster the PHP Code to Work with a Newer PHP Version
A discussion inspired this article in the PHP Reddit forum sites about PHP 8.1 mass compatibility check for upgrades from PHP 7.4 on Reddit.
Other PHP developers presented suggestions of tools you can use to make the necessary changes to have your code working in a newer PHP version.
So here follows a list of suggested tools mentioned in that discussion forum.
This is a package available in GitHub that, according to its authors it promises instant upgrades to a newer PHP version.
You need to install it with PHP Composer. Then you need to run the rector command from the command line shell with the PHP CLI version.
2. PHPStan with PHPStorm
PHPStan is a static analysis tool that can check errors in your code. The suggestion is to use PHPStan in conjunction with the PHPStorm IDE tool.
It will not upgrade your code automatically, but it can reduce the time you need to find the code you need to fix to upgrade to a newer PHP version.
PHP Code Fixer is a package to find deprecated functions in your PHP code.
It would be best if you started it from the command line. It can scan a directory with PHP files to find and report the deprecated functions.
It lets you specify a given PHP version that you may want to upgrade, so it will only report functions that were deprecated in that PHP version or an older version.
You still need to fix the code with deprecated functions. So it will save you time finding the code you need to improve.
The PHPStorm IDE tool can perform code inspections to find code with issues.
It is not explicitly meant to perform PHP version upgrades. It can save you time to find and fix code that may not work in the version you want to upgrade.
How to Test Your Code Before Accepting the Changes Done by PHP Upgrade Tools
Any change you make in a PHP project that you have worked on should be carefully tested.
This is even more important when you use automated tools because sometimes it may not be evident that the consequences of specific changes may affect other code that was already worked.
Types of Testing
There are two types of tests: human testing and machine testing.
a) Human Testing
Human testing is what you want to personally check if the code you changed worked by testing the application as a user.
Although it may work, like every human being, you can make mistakes, and the human testing actions that you perform may not cover all the parts of your application that were affected by the changes.
b) Machine Automated Testing
Machine testing is what you do when you write some code that performs automatic tests in the application code.
This can be faster when you want to run the same tests many times. Still, you must spend time writing and maintaining the code to perform the automated tests. It may take some time initially, but you may recover the time invested in the future when you repeat the same tests.
c) Combined Human and Machine Automated Testing
If you combine human and automated machine testing, your testing efforts will be more robust.
Still, rest assured that there is not enough testing that will save your project from eventual bugs. So you can expect that even after a lot of testing, some bugs may escape you due to situations you did not anticipate.
Which Kind of Code You Should Always Test
Often developers are under pressure from customers to finish their software projects. Although stress is not good, customers usually do not care because they are anxious to release the software they paid to be developed.
So, if you want minimal testing, just elaborate tests for code that handles aspects of people's lives or finances.
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