PHP 5.3 could be out as soon as Tuesday June 30th. The new open source language release is a big deal for a lot of reasons, not the least of which is the fact that by my count this is the first major update to PHP since 2006 and the PHP 5.2 release.
PHP 5.3 is also interesting in that it includes at least one key feature that was originally intended for PHP 6 (whenever — if ever — that release will be out).
I spoke with Zeev Suraski, co-founder and CTO at commercial PHP vendor Zend Technologies last month about PHP 5.3. He noted that one key feature backported from PHP 6 into PHP 5.3 is namespaces, which is a way to encapsulate classes and other PHP items more easily.
While the official release is on June 30th, support for PHP 5.3 is already present in development tools from Eclipse released this week.
*UPDATE JUNE 30TH – PHP 5.3 did get released – full story is up on the main site.