The guys at PHP are getting ready for a 5.2 release – the third major release in the 5.x range. A public release candidate has been released though I’m not sure if you can get binaries or where you can get them.
Given that it took a few months to reach this point and addition of new features was allowed the changelog already looks extremely impressive. Some of the key changes include things like 3 new extensions (filter, json and zip), the date extension had the rest of its functionality enabled, much work was done in terms of getting PHP 5.2 to run faster and more efficiently (in terms on memory usage). There have also been nearly 80 bug fixes made to existing functionality, which hopefully translates to a more stable release.
Filter functionality is really nice. There’s a bit of info on it on the PHP.net documentation; it gives a safe and quick way of getting user input. It does a similar job to PEAR::Validate and the Gene_Request class I use. Hopefully this will be turned on by default.
JSON support can be really useful. JSON is emerging as a new standard for data exchange between server and clients, often used with XmlHttpRequest. I’ve currently got my own code to convert a PHP object into a JSON object which is about 50 lines long but it’s not fantastic. JSON support could save a lot of time. Again, I hope this is turned on by default.
Other changes including the bundled MySQL client library being updated to v5.0.22, quite a lot of performance improvements, image_type_to_extension(), data: stream support, memory_get_peak_usage(), error_get_last() and many bug fixes.