Which PHP to Download?
Ideally you should always be using the latest stable release of PHP for your projects. There may be times when you need to use an older version (see the drawbacks section for some reasons why this might be the case).
The benefits of using the latest stable version include:
Improved Performance: Each new version generally includes performance improvements over previous versions. For example, PHP 7.x brought about significant speed improvements over PHP 5.6.
New Features: Each version of PHP introduces new features that can make your code cleaner, easier to write, and more powerful. PHP 7 introduced scalar type declarations and return type declarations, PHP 7.4 introduced typed properties, and PHP 8.0 introduced attributes, union types, match expression, and the JIT (Just in Time) compiler.
Security: Newer versions include patches for security vulnerabilities found in older versions. Continuing to use an unsupported version can leave your applications vulnerable to known security issues.
The drawbacks or challenges can include:
Compatibility Issues: If you are working with older codebases or frameworks, they might not work as expected with newer PHP versions. In such cases, you may need to use an older version of PHP, or spend time upgrading and testing the existing codebase to ensure it works with a newer PHP version.
Learning Curve: New versions often come with new features, which means there’s more to learn. However, this is typically outweighed by the benefits of these new features.
Support: If you are using third-party libraries or tools, you’ll need to ensure that they support the version of PHP you’re using.
In general, it’s recommended to use the latest version of PHP that’s compatible with your code and tools. If you’re starting a new project, aim for the latest stable release. If you’re working with an existing project, it may be worth the time investment to update your code to be compatible with newer versions, for the performance, security, and feature benefits.