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Update PHP


Looking into my installation of helpspot it looks like version of PHP being used is 5.3.2. PHP 5.3.X was retired on the 14 Aug 2014. Are there any plans to move helpspot to PHP 5.4, or better yet 5.5 or 5.6? I realize that your utilizing ion cube loader, but as of now they list compatibility all the way up through PHP 5.5. I tried manually setting the PHP handler mapping in IIS to PHP 5.4 and 5.5, but it seems to break the web server when I do this.


Yes, HelpSpot version 4 ships with 5.5.21 and will update your PHP to that.


When we started our trial the version served up was 3.2.12, when will version 4 be available?


Yes, we’re not shipping version 4 as the default yet. However, if you’d like to try it you can email support and they’ll send you the download link and instructions.


Ok, we will do that, thanks!


It looks like V4 has shipped, and it does include PHP 5.5.22, however, this is still not the latest version of PHP 5.5.X. Seeing as how we can’t update PHP manually due to ion cube loader, what plans are there to deal with outdated PHP versions? Do we have to wait for updates from helpspot? Is there a plan to allow organizations to update PHP on there own?


We’ll have a more active release schedule going forward, but it’s still never likely to always be up to the very latest. If you’d like control over that though you certainly can. It’s fine to install and manage your own PHP and Ioncube. Our Windows installer manages that process for people who aren’t comfortable setting that all up, but it’s not required. So perhaps you should consider moving on to your own managed configuration.

Once you’ve setup PHP as needed you’d then just be downloading and installing the HelpSpot PHP files just like any other PHP installation. It’s pretty rare to do this on Windows, but some installations do. On Linux this is the only way to install and is commonly done (but then PHP is usually already installed on Linux).


We tried manually dropping in the updated PHP files with V3, but it seemed to break ion cube loader when we did, is this not the case with V4? Or would we also have to maintain ion cube loader at the same time to ensure compatibility? We tried doing both in the last release with no success, but if V4 is different we will definitely go down this route.


I’m suggesting you not use our Windows installer at all. As if you start updating components it probably won’t work on upgrades.

So you would build out a new VM with PHP, Ioncube, PHP modules you need such as IMAP, MSSQLNative, LDAP (if you use AD), installing the Sphinx search engine. You just build out the PHP setup manually, then you’re dropping in the HelpSpot files.

The basic process is here:

That link is Linux focused because Windows users almost never build out their own, but there’s no reason you can’t just that it’s more work. If staying on the very latest PHP is important to you though then that will be the way to go.

You still may not be able to do things such as move directly to PHP 7 when it’s released if there are code changes that need to be made for that, but you’ll definitely be able to stay on the latest point releases.

If you’re not using MSSQL you may also just want to consider moving to Linux which is usually a little easier to manage if you don’t have much experience with PHP on Windows. If you are using MSSQL though then you have to stay on Windows.


Thanks for the guide Ian. I work for the financial services industry and we are frequently audited and these audits are burtal. Using outdated components like PHP on a webstack, even an internal one, is a non-starter for us. Ideally the installer would allow modularized updates to components rather than being forced to maintain all modules ourselves. If this is not the case, we will likely not be moving forward with a purchase, and I doubt many financial service related organizations would.


If you run the PHP yourself you can have complete control over every component. That sounds like exactly what you need. The Windows installer isn’t doing anything special or anything HelpSpot requires. The only thing it’s doing is saving Windows admins a little bit of time from manually installing those components.

As you have the resources and desire for full control of the system then manually building out the requirements is all that you need to do. The PHP group provides an installer these days, so it’s not a great deal of work. We try and make it even less with the installer, but the installer is just a convenience that is not required to run on Windows.

HelpSpot is used by many financial companies, financial departments, healthcare, and so on primarily because it is so flexible. I know other solutions are very tied to their installers so perhaps that’s where the miscommunication is. HelpSpot is not at all tied to the Windows installer. Every component can be manual installed separately and then fully managed by you to be as up to date as needed.