How to check for a minimum level of PHP within a WordPress plugin

Oh my. It’s been a long time since I’ve felt such hate from users. What horrendous thing did I do? I change one of my plugins so that it now required PHP 7 to work, instead of 5.3.

You know PHP 7… which itself goes out of support in the next few months. PHP 7 also being the recommended minimum level of PHP for running WordPress.

Anyhow, I’ve written a short function which, when added to a plugin, will check for the current level and fail the activation if it doesn’t meet the requirements.

Simply add the following code to any plugin code…

function check_php_level() {
$php = '[[your minimum PHP level]]'; // Minimum PHP level required
/* translators: %1$s: required PHP version, %2$s: current PHP level */
$message = sprintf( __( 'The [[your plugin name]] plugin requires PHP version %1$s or greater but you are using version %2$s. The plugin has NOT been activated.', '[[your text-domain]]' ), $php, PHP_VERSION );
$title = __( 'Plugin Activation Error', '[[your text-domain]]' );
if ( version_compare( PHP_VERSION, $php, '<' ) ) {
wp_die( esc_html( $message ), esc_html( $title ) );
} else {
register_activation_hook( __FILE__, 'check_php_level' );
view raw yourplugin.php hosted with ❤ by GitHub

Now replace all text that is surrounded by double brackets for an appropriate replacement – this includes the level of PHP you’re checking for, the plugin name and the text domain (for translations).

Hopefully, this is a short-term band-aid, as there are already plans to prevent plugins updates in future if the level of PHP is no longer supported – Trac tickets #43987 and #44350. Right now, these are planned for WordPress 5.0, which is due later in the year.

Photo by Henri L. on Unsplash

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