PHP 5.4 @ Zend

As a Linux integration guy at Zend, most of my time is spent in compiling PHP related code or dealing with the variety of Linux distributions we support. With the coming release for PHP 5.4, we (at Zend) had some interesting stuff going on.

As part of the RC phase, I got to check the status of the 50-60 PHP extensions we provide, especially the PECL extensions which have different release cycles than the main PHP. With minor versions, this usually doesn’t really matter, but for major versions this means that some extensions need a little bit of love and fixes to work well with the new PHP version. This of course with the help of our developers.

The changes are usually one-liners due to a variable type change, or finding commits in the extension’s SCM and applying/back-porting it to the current versions (e.g. pecl memcache). Our policy regarding the patches we have, is that they should at least be sent to upstream (a core member or a bug report, e.g. #55703). I think I’m in the best position to enforce that patch policy, so in a few recent cases, I found myself asking one of our developers if the patch he sent me was already accepted upstream before willing to take it into the build process (in this case they are used temporarily, till we’ll work with the next RC or final release).

While most people build PHP as a final and standalone product, we also test it against ZendServer (or the other way around, depends on your POV). This helps to discover problems related to and implications of the changes done in the major version. During the PHP 5.4 RC cycle (which is still not finished), we had, more than a few times, that an internal problem discovered led to debugging, code reviewing and sending feedback (and patches when relevant) to the PHP project. Providing fixes for the issues found, helps having PHP in a better shape for release. At least for me, that’s one of the fun parts of work – getting the chance to contribute back to the community (or at least making sure others do, as I don’t write the patches myself).

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