Back in 2005, I wrote a story for InternetNews.com where I wrote that I expected PHP 6 to be out in 2006. Here we are three years later and guess what? No PHP 6.
Back in 2005, the promise of PHP 6 was to be the next big thing for the open source dynamic language. At the time, I remember joking with Zend co-founder Andi Gutmans about Perl 6, which is a release that also has been promised for years and still hasn't been released either.
Instead what has happened to PHP 6 is it has become the horizon of PHP. A place that you can see off in the distance, but can never be reached.
It's also a place where features are backported from, as was the case with the PHP 5.3 release which included several key features that were originally intended for PHP 6.
Among the PHP 6 features now in PHP 5.3 is internationalization support.
"The question is now with the internationalization extension, what is the gap and how much benefit do we get from PHP 6 versus 5.3?" Zend CEO Andi Gutmans recently told me.
Personally, I see PHP 5.3 as a major release and perhaps a different language might have elected to give it a major version number. That said, Gutmans' question about the relevance of PHP 6 remains.
Now that much of the 'guts' of PHP 6 is in PHP 5.x, something else needs to become the marquee feature of PHP 6. Sure, code cleanup and optimizations are always important too.
Now as 2010 nears as opposed to 2005, I'm not sure if PHP 6 will actually come out before Perl 6 does anymore. I'm also not sure that it matters.