After 2004, PHP had several releases with some important new features (like Namespaces in PHP 5.4) but nothing really big that can be justified as a major new release. PHP 6 had an ambitious plan in secured way, but unfortunately it was canceled in 2010. PHP 5.0.0 was released in 2004 & now PHP 7 released with great features so we can consider it as a major PHP release after 11 years.After 2004, PHP had several releases with some important new features (like Namespaces in PHP 5.4) but nothing really big that can be justified as a major new release. PHP 6 had an ambitious plan in secured way, but unfortunately it was canceled in 2010. PHP 5.0.0 was released in 2004 & now PHP 7 released with great features so we can consider it as a major PHP release after 11 years.
New Features in PHP 7
Improved performance (PHP 7 is up to twice as fast as PHP 5.6)
Significantly reduced memory usage
Abstract Syntax Tree
Consistent 64-bit support
Improved Exception hierarchy
Many fatal errors converted to Exceptions
Secure random number generator
Removed old and unsupported SAPIs and extensions
The null coalescing operator (??)
Return and Scalar Type Declarations
Zero cost asserts
Source: PHP Manual
On scale of user acceptance:
PHPNG: It’s powered by a new engine called “PHPNG”. It’s an attempt to compete other interpreters such as PHP HipHop or HHVM (Facebook Utilizes). The new engine will help to improve the way to the language works with data structure, allocation of memory & data types. It’s more optimized to enhance the performance of CPU and memory.
Performance & Memory Usage: In this context, PHP 7 will feature a range of execution engine improvements, offer native local threat storage and reduce memory usage. These advantages serve particularly well for mobile devices with limited Web browsing capabilities. The upcoming PHP version also supports the idea of a greener planet with the ability to handle more traffic within the same server resources.
Exception Hierarchy & Error Handling: Existing fatal and recoverable fatal errors were replaced by exceptions, making it possible for us to catch said errors and take action — like displaying them in a nicer way, logging them, or performing recovery procedures. New catch-all Exception is now throw-able instead of Exception.
Secured RNG: Generates an arbitrary length string of cryptographic random bytes that are suitable for cryptographic use, such as when generating salts, keys or initialization vectors.
Scalar Type Hinting: This is one of the more interesting proposals. It is the only proposal that can be implemented without breaking backwards compatibility at all. All other proposals would at least break existing type hints on classes called “Int” or “String” (believe it or not, but some people really do use classes like this). Its Syntax makes it clear that it will cast the value. It also reuses PHP’s normal cast semantics, thus making it consistent. This allows the PHP run time engine to check if the types of values passed to parameter functions and return values are of the expected types in order to detect eventual programming mistakes.
Conclusion: No doubt, PHP 7 stable release will be a huge life line for all PHP lovers. The art of programming is changing rapidly and business organizations need to tap into the mobile user-base with better value propositions. Every new feature of PHP 7 is individually capable to attract developers.