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You write a plugin which requires PHP 5.1. Someone tries to install it on a server with PHP 4. How do you deal with that in a safe and user-friendly manner?

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Why would you need that? WP doesn't run on PHP < 5 anymore – onetrickpony Dec 13 '12 at 16:10
It’s a general question. You might want to require any other higher PHP version. That being said, I wasn’t aware PHP 5.2.4 is required since WP 3.2. – Geert Dec 13 '12 at 16:15

This function and activation hook prevents the plugin from activating and allows you to check for both a minimum PHP and WordPress version.

register_activation_hook( __FILE__, array( 'Your_Plugin_Class_Name', 'activate' ) );

  * Plugin Activation hook function to check for Minimum PHP and WordPress versions
  * @param string $wp Minimum version of WordPress required for this plugin
  * @param string $php Minimum version of PHP required for this plugin
 function activate( $wp = '3.1', $php = '5.2.4' ) {
    global $wp_version;
    if ( version_compare( PHP_VERSION, $php, '<' ) )
        $flag = 'PHP';
        ( version_compare( $wp_version, $wp, '<' ) )
        $flag = 'WordPress';
    $version = 'PHP' == $flag ? $php : $wp;
    deactivate_plugins( basename( __FILE__ ) );
    wp_die('<p>The <strong>Insert PLugin Name Here</strong> plugin requires'.$flag.'  version '.$version.' or greater.</p>','Plugin Activation Error',  array( 'response'=>200, 'back_link'=>TRUE ) );
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This do not work if due to php syntax changes the php file can not be parsed at all – Mark Kaplun Apr 14 at 14:53
up vote 6 down vote accepted
 * Plugin Name: Foo

// Check for required PHP version
if (version_compare(PHP_VERSION, '5.1', '<'))
    exit(sprintf('Foo requires PHP 5.1 or higher. You’re still on %s.',PHP_VERSION));

// The rest of your plugin code ...

I'm not sure since which WP version this happened, but in 3.5 the plugin actually fails to activate and the error message is shown to the user in the admin, which is neat.

The error message is not translated, though. In order to do that you’d have to load your translation files right before the exit call.

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I think I still prefer this method for its simplicity. Also, the plugin is never actually installed, so no need to trigger deinstallation routines in case of a too old PHP version. – Geert Dec 20 '12 at 7:48

You could activate it and show an error message:

// if PHP version is lower than 5.1
if(version_compare(PHP_VERSION, '5.1') < 0){

  // show a message inside the dashboard

    function my_plugin_notice(){      
      <div class="error below-h2">
          printf(__('The abc plugin requires at least PHP 5.1. You have %s'), PHP_VERSION);

    add_action('admin_notices', 'my_plugin_notice');


  // stop here and do nothing further

// if PHP version is equal or higher than 5.1
require dirname(__FILE__) . '/php51code.php';

It's also probably possible to deactivate it programmatically, before the return statement...

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Yeah, you still need to deactivate it programmatically if you use this setup because in spite of the admin notice, the plugin will show up as activated. – Geert Dec 13 '12 at 16:45
see deactivate_plugins – onetrickpony Dec 13 '12 at 16:50
the function version_compare have a thrid param for the comparison; please use if ( version_compare( phpversion(), '5.1a', '<' ) ) – bueltge Dec 13 '12 at 20:54
That's only required when you want this function to return boolean – onetrickpony Dec 13 '12 at 22:07
But, the boolean value is faster as a comparison with the integer value 0. – bueltge Dec 17 '12 at 12:20

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