Izzy Pritchard

Solutions Architect

 

Are you affected by Podio’s automation PHP version changes?

If you use Podio Workflow Automation/”PWA” (previously “Globiflow”) then the chances you have been affected are quite high. Whether you are aware of the changes, why there were changes, what the changes are or if they affect you or not, please read on. We will answer these questions and more, and let you know how we can help keep your Podio platform flying.

 

What is PHP? | What has changed? | What do I need to do? | Can Future Solutions help me? | Take action

 

 

What is PHP?

From the PHP website:

A popular general-purpose scripting language that is especially suited to web development.
Fast, flexible and pragmatic, PHP powers everything from your blog to the most popular websites in the world

PHP enables users to work with and manipulate the data held in the underlying Podio database via PWA’s user interface.

In Podio, you are used to seeing this:

podio

…which is actually made up from this data in the Podio database:

database

The screenshot above is an abridged version of 41 lines, whereas, the data table that makes up the screen you see is actually 782 lines long.

As mentioned above, we can use PHP to help us change or manipulate the data. For example, on screen you see this pretty date:

…but in the database this is what is stored:

date and time

You can see in the data that the word JUNE does not exist in the database so PHP does a nice calculation (function) to show us a nice date. In fact it is doing this:

date (“d D F Y”, strtotime( [date-field] )) (see php date formatting) to give us the more readable and user friendly reading format.

In PWA, we can use PHP to build automations and here is an example used the app above:

Here, we are adding 3 weekdays to the current date and time, and setting a date field in Podio with the new value.

As a Podio Partner, Future Solutions uses a myriad of PHP functions to help us manipulate your data. Let’s say you need to send an email to a client to remind them of their dental appointment. Using a PHP function in PWA we can make the date in the email read “22 July 2023 at 2pm” rather than “2023-06-22T14:00:00” (which is how it is saved in Podio’s database).

Here is small subset of other functions from the PWA manual for example but there are many more.

workflow

What has changed?

PWA has been running on version 7.4 of PHP for some time, which is perfectly ok to do but is reaching the end of its supported life shortly. This is similar to your personal computer – would you run Windows 98 anymore? Could you still use iOS 2 on your current iPhone when the latest version is iOS 16? Software (and hardware) moves on and evolves: it’s normal and required to keep up to date with the current version. Staying up-to-date keeps you and your system safe.

The same applies for PHP. PWA’s underlying system needs to be upgraded to a more recent version of PHP so that it has improved support and benefits from the advices made. PHP version 7.4 is now at the end of life stage, and PWA is being upgraded to use version 8.1 (here are the versions and change log)

There have been many changes and advances in PHP from 7.4 to 8.1. Some of these changes mean that functions that worked in v7.4 do not in v8.1: these are called “Backward Incompatible Changes” which are the crux of issue that this article is addressing. Imagine trying to put a modern VW Golf engine in the body of the MK1 from 1974. There are too many bits missing – sensors, cables, plugs, indicator lamps etc etc. The same happens with software – as you change from one to another a software ‘plug’ may no longer fit the applications ‘socket’.

Here is the official public announcement from Podio.

php upgrade

To which Podio have kindly pointed out the common issues you might see:

Here is the timeline to aid you in your decision making and prioritising:

What do I need to do?

You need to review and are very likely to need to update some of your automations so that they are compatible with PHP v8.1.

Podio is a business tool and like your computer, phone or car, you need to keep it well-oiled and up-to-date to keep it running smooth and use all the latest features. Thankfully, these significant infrastructure changes do not happen very often but they do warrant your full attention.

Can Future Solutions help me?

Yes: we have built 2 tools to help find PHP version inconsistencies:

• The Active Method: our own primary level scanner that looks for potential problems so that we can find and fix them.
• The Passive Method: designed to locate the more ‘obscure’ of problems. This error processing system picks up when PWA report a PHP error and alerts a team member to investigate.

We can then check and resolve the inconsistencies for you too. 

Take Action

If you would like our support to make your Podio and PWA platform PHP v8.1 compliant, please get in touch and we can guide you through the process

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