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PHP 7 vs PHP 5 syntax issue

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In PHP 5, I conventionally opened my pages with <?php but within the pages I often used <? to open a php block, e.g., <?echo $variable; ?>.

In PHP 7, I find it is necessary to always use <?php and follow it with  a space, e.g., <?php echo $variable; ?>

I haven't been able to find any reference to this syntax change so my question:  Is this a new requirement of PHP 7? Can it be turned off?

Otherwise, I will need to edit all of the sites where my earlier habit was used, which I think I can do but would feel compelled to spend some hours testing afterward.

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