About two months ago, Johannes Schlüter posted about the Future of PHP 6. Schlüter works for MySQL (and therefore Oracle-Sun) and is an active and involved member of the PHP team. In his post, Schlüter discusses the difficult choices facing PHP with respect to the intended version 6 and its support for Unicode. In turns out that changing all of PHP to support Unicode isn’t as easy as one would have thought. And, of course, it was originally considered to be, well, hard. Apparently, this struggle is the reason PHP 6 is still nowhere to be found (in fact, the source code has slowly been disappearing from PHP’s snaps site). So now, the PHP team is regrouping in order to go forward and we’re not exactly sure when or how Unicode support will be integrated into PHP, or how this change affects the next few versions of PHP, both minor (i.e., 5.3) and major (6 and 7).
As a person that wrote a book on PHP 6 quite some time ago, and has looked more and more silly over time, I’m happy to hear this news, even if we don’t yet know what the end result will be. Granted, most of that book uses PHP 5 and PHP 6 (the version that was available when I wrote it) is only required by like 5-10% of the material, but still…lesson learned on my part: especially when it comes to open source software, there’s just no predicting what’s going to happen next. So, for the time being, let’s be happy with the PHP we have and keep an eye on where the development team goes with this. I know I sure will!