Author: Sean Michael Kerner (Internet News)
PHP 5.3 could be out as soon as Tuesday June 30th. The new open source language release is a big deal for a lot of reasons, not the least of which is the fact that by my count this is the first major update to PHP since 2006 and the PHP 5.2 release.
PHP 5.3 is also interesting in that it includes at least one key feature that was originally intended for PHP 6 (whenever — if ever — that release will be out).
Zeev Suraski, co-founder and CTO at commercial PHP vendor Zend Technologies said month, about PHP 5.3, that one key feature backported from PHP 6 into PHP 5.3 is namespaces, which is a way to encapsulate classes and other PHP items more easily.
While the official release is on June 30th, support for PHP 5.3 is already present in development tools from Eclipse released this week.
The Eclipse Galileo release include the PHP Development Tools 2.1 (PDT) application which has PHP 5.3 support. Zend which backs the PDT effort, now has a commercial tool in beta that builds on the PDT 2.1 release as well.
Zend Studio 7.0 is currently in Beta and according to Zend also includes new enhanced source code editing for PHP as well as improved integration with the Zend Framework. By my count, the Zend Studio 7.0 beta is the first major upgrade to Zend Studio and a year and half when Zend pushed out its first IDE based on Eclipse.
The new PHP 5.3 release is coming at a critical time for the PHP community in my opinion. It is continuing to face pressure on the web development side from Ruby and in the enterprise space, .NET and Java are evolving themselves as well.
While PHP 5.3 is not the big evolution that PHP 6 might end up being, PHP 5.3 is likely a key incremental step in the evolution of PHP.