The Sixth Sense

July 20th, 2014

We all (we are movie fans, aren't we) remember the most memorable scene where little Cole Sear expressed that he sees dead people in the movie "The 6th sense. And of course, we all (we are also PHP programmers) remember the dead end version of PHP, which has been originally projected as PHP 6. And, yeah, we all know that PHP 6 was postponed to make some uncontroversial progress, which resulted in PHP 5.3 up to 5.6, which brought great improvements for many PHP developers.

However, a while ago the call for a new major PHP release grew stronger, some promising attemps were made, and recently a RFC was created to settle the issue, whether this should be called PHP 6 or something else. After some discussion on php-internals the RFC had been adjusted to a simple decision on how to call the next major version: PHP 6 or PHP 7.

I am having a hard time to make up my mind on how this next major version should be called. On one hand, I understand the argument that it should be called PHP 6, because there hasn't been an official release of this version, and after 5 comes 6. On the other hand, I can accept the point that there has been much discussion about the "original" PHP 6 in the past (there are plenty of articles around on the WWW, and even some published books about PHP 6), so it might be better to skip this version number and proceed to 7, because the next major release of PHP will definitely be different from what has been planned years ago.

However, I am convinced that it would be detrimental for everyone, if this history will repeat, and there will be articles and even books written which try to cast the shape of the next major version in stone, even before a first alpha will be released. So I suggest to let the PHP developers calmly work out the next major version, and that we (the userland developers) accept whatever they come up with, and make the best of it (even if there might be long desired features missing). Everyone who feels up to it may consider to support the development of PHP NEXT by suggesting sensible features and contributing pull requests, or even new RFCs.

Do you (dis)agree?