Proposal for increasing recommended PHP version in WordPress

I would like to propose we trigger displaying the PHP update widget for users of PHP 5.6 in WordPress.

At the time of writing, the WordPress stats show that:

  • PHP 5.6 has a usage share of 29.1%
  • PHP 7.0 has a usage share of 16.2%
  • PHP 7.1 has a usage share of 13.2%
Pie chart showing the usage share of each PHP version used by WordPress sites.

This proposal is based around multiple discussions in Hosting Team meetings, a P2 post and within core-site-health conversations.

A majority of respondents have suggested increasing the minimum requirement to PHP 7.2. The site-health maintainers agree with the sentiment but we would like to get to that point by introducing a series of incremental increases over the remainder of 2019.

When?

Our suggested roadmap to increase the minium PHP version is:

  1. Display the PHP update widget for PHP 5.6. This will trigger the widget for anyone using PHP 5.6 or below and WordPress 5.1+ in their dashboards warning them of the fact we recommend upgrading the version of PHP.
  2. Display the PHP update widget for users of PHP 7.0 and below.
  3. Based around support and stats of points 1 and 2, have a discussion about whether the next step should be displaying the PHP update widget for PHP 7.1 or a direct increase of the required minimum version to PHP 7.2.

We suggest to start showing the update recommendation for users of PHP 5.6 or lower starting August 5th, the timeline for showing the warning to PHP 7.0 users will be announced in a followup post, and relies on factors like support load, and adoption rate from the previous increase.

Why the PHP update widget?

In discussions, multiple people have highlighted that many sites do not update plugins and themes due to paywalls. In some circumstances it can mean their version of the plugin or theme is not compatible with more modern versions of PHP. This is especially the case for many popular premium plugin and theme users.

We hope that the PHP update widget will encourage users to update all their plugins and themes, incluing all premium ones. By doing so, their PHP migration at a hosting level would go much smoother, and help pave the way for raising the minimum requirements of WordPress further in a timely manner.

Another reason for going in with the update widget first is so we are able to drip feed the support requests for the multiple teams which have to handle the support for changes like this. This includes but not limited to community, hosting, plugins, themes and support forum teams.

Screenshot of the PHP Update Widget

Feedback welcomed

If you have any questions, suggestions, or comments, the #site-health conponent would be gratful if you comment on this post with your thoughts.

Thank you.