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Feedback: PHP version requirements
I support OP's planned strategy.
I use a PHP extension which is not compatible with PHP7 (eg. need to rewrite thousands of lines of C code). I need to research to see if I can configure that app to use PHP5 as CGI while using PHP7 as mod_php for everything else.

I am anxious for the speedup and lower memory requirements PHP7 brings.
As the subject was recently mentioned on GitHub:

with 2 years elapsed since we have announced MyBB will not support PHP versions older than 7.0, the current plan (with 1.9 and subsequent 1.x branches in mind) is to have PHP 7.1 as minimum; that might be bumped again to PHP 7.2, depending on the actual release date for 1.9 (Active Support for PHP 7.1 ends December this year).

Despite having the focus shifted from writing 2.0 to incremental 1.x updates, we will continue to introduce changes that will make coding and maintenance easier for developers, and sticking close to most recent PHP branches will be one of them (more dynamic release cycle will help, as we will be reviewing the requirements with each minor version). (DF3A 34D9 A627 42E5 BC6A 6750 1F2F B8AA 28FF E1BC) ▪
Last year, we decided to raise the requirements to PHP 7.4, without crossing the PHP 8 boundary that involved minor, but often numerous corrections in the source code of plugins and MyBB itself.

However, given: the upcoming batches of new code i.a. for the 1.9 Theme System; the adoption of PHP 8, combined with the removal of unsupported PHP versions on common hosting platforms; and the ultimate need to support recent versions in core & plugins, regardless of requirements (which is done continuously in MyBB through 1.8.x compatibility patches, subsequently applied to 1.9 code), we have bumped current requirements for the 1.9 series to PHP ≥ 8.1.

The 8.1 choice is based on requirements in third-party dependencies and language features [PHP 8.0][PHP 8.1] related to strict typing and otherwise improved code quality.

This follows our initial intentions to require relatively recent and supported version of PHP, and allows the Project's to further reduce the overhead & limitations coming from the need to stay compatible with a wide range of PHP versions. (DF3A 34D9 A627 42E5 BC6A 6750 1F2F B8AA 28FF E1BC) ▪

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