Object Oriented Programming with PHP

by Kevin Waterson

Draft Only
Contents 1. 2. 3. 4. 5. 6. 7. 8. 9. What is OOP What is an Object What is a class Commenting code Inheritance (Extending a class) Visibility (public, private, protected) Final Abstract Classes Static Methods and properities

10. Interfaces 11. PHP Class Functions

o o o o
12. Autoload

get_declared_interaces() get_class() class_exists() get_declared_classes()

13. Serializing Objects 14. Overloading 15. Class Constants 16. Credits

What is OOP
OOP was first invented for the purpose of physical modelling in the Simula-67. Whilst there is no hard and fast definition of what Object Oriented Programming (OOP) is, we can define. So lets just use this loose definition for now and it is left to reader to make up their own minds about what a decent definition is. Object Oriented Programming (OOP) is a programming concept that treats functions and data as objects. OK, not the best definition but gives us an opening. The key word here is objects. As we progress through this tutorial we will see how data and functions can be represented as re-usable objects, thus cutting down on code and time.

What is an Object
Simply put, an oject is a bunch of variables and functions all lumped into a single entity. The object can then be called rather than calling the variables or functions themselves. Within an object there are methods and properties. The methods are functions that manipulate data withing the object. The properties are variables that hold information about the object.

What is a Class
A class is the blueprint for your object. The class contains the methods and properties, or the charactaristics of the object. It defines the object. Lets just start with some examples to see how it all pieces together. We will use a vehicle as our object. All vehicles share similar charactaristics, eg: number of doors, they are painted some color, they each have a price. All vehicles do similar things also, drive, turn left, turn right, stop etc. These can be

described as functions, or in OOP parlance, methods. So, the class holds the definition, and the object holds the value. You declare class in PHP by using the class keyword.

<?php class vehicle{ /*** define public properties ***/ /*** the color of the vehicle ***/ public $color; /*** the number of doors ***/ public $num_doors ; /*** the price of the vehicle ***/ public $price; /*** the shape of the vehicle ***/ public $shape; /*** the brand of vehicle ***/ public $brand; /*** the constructor ***/ public function __construct (){ echo 'About this Vehicle.<br />'; } /*** define some public methods ***/ /*** a method to show the vehicle price ***/ public function showPrice (){ echo 'This vehicle costs '.$this->price.'.<br />'; } /*** a method to show the number of doors ***/ public function numDoors(){ echo 'This vehicle has '.$this->num_doors .' doors.<br />'; } /*** method to drive the vehicle ***/ public function drive(){ echo 'VRRROOOOOOM!!!' ; } } /*** end of class ***/ ?>

then we will step through it all. properties. /*** call the showPrice method ***/ $vehicle->showPrice (). you should have something like. <?php . <?php /*** create a new vehicle object ***/ $vehicle = new vehicle. <?php class vehicle{ ?> Next we declared some variables. We began the class with the class keyword. To create a new object from the class definition we use the new keyword. /*** cost of the vehicle ***/ $vehicle->price = 100000. This vehicle has 2 doors. Lets see how its done. /*** the shape of vehicle ***/ $vehicle->shape = 'Coupe'. Lets step through the class definition first to see what its all about.. or as they are known in the OOP world. or many. /*** the color of the vehicle ***/ $vehicle->color = 'Red'. This tells PHP that what follows is a class definition. /*** call the numDoors method ***/ $vehicle->numDoors(). /*** number of doors ***/ $vehicle->num_doors = 2.With this simple class definition we can now create one. About this vehicle. vehicle objects. /*** the brand of vehicle ***/ $vehicle->brand = 'Porsche' . /*** drive the vehicle ***/ $vehicle->drive(). This vehicle costs 100000. ?> Using the combination of the two code boxes above.

$this->price. If a class needs to do something before running some code. } ?> The constructor method (function) is a special function that is executed every time a new object is created or "instantiated". Next in the class definition is this code. but more of that later. ?> The properties are the individual charactaristics of the vehicle object.<br />'.<br />'. /*** the brand of vehicle ***/ public $brand. This means you may set it from within your code. .' doors.$this->num_doors . It is often used to set properties within the class. } /*** method to drive the vehicle ***/ public function drive(){ echo 'VRRROOOOOOM' . /*** the shape of the vehicle ***/ public $shape. <?php /*** the constructor ***/ public function __construct (){ echo 'About this vehicle.. /*** the number of doors ***/ public $num_doors . } /*** a method to show the number of doors ***/ public function numDoors(){ echo 'This vehicle has '. <?php /*** a method to show the vehicle price ***/ public function showPrice (){ echo 'This vehicle costs './*** the color of the vehicle ***/ public $color.'. You may pass a variable directly to the constructor from your code. The public declares that this property may be accessed within the public scope.<br />'. /*** the price of the vehicle ***/ public $price. Following the constructor is several methods (functions) that do things. then this is the place to do it. These methods are also preceded by the public meaning they are available with the scope of your code.

so it cannot be used as a variable or property name. The methods are executed like this below. As mentioned earlier we do this with the use of the new keyword. /*** number of doors ***/ $vehicle->num_doors = 2. or new object. ?> With the properties set as above. I like to put a comment beside it so I dont delete it or get it confused with a function I am writing. It is at this time that the constructor is called and any code within the constructor is executed. The keyword $this is used to refer to properties or methods within the class itself. Once we have a new object we can then begin to assign values to the properties of that object as seen here. /*** the color of the vehicle ***/ $vehicle->color = 'Red'. /*** drive the vehicle ***/ . /*** call the numDoors method ***/ $vehicle->numDoors(). Finally we finished our class definition with a closing }. it is now simple to use the object methods to manipulate the object by calling the methods. /*** the shape of vehicle ***/ $vehicle->shape = 'Coupe'. of our vehicle class. Following on from the class definition we see our userland code. This is the code we use to instantiate (create) a new instance. <?php /*** create a new vehicle object ***/ $vehicle = new vehicle. <?php /*** call the showPrice method ***/ $vehicle->showPrice (). our methods are similar to normal PHP functions. However you may note the use of variables like $this->price and $this->num_doors. ?> The code above creates a new object from our class definition called $vehicle. The $this keyword is reserved in PHP.} ?> As you see above. <?php /*** the brand of vehicle ***/ $vehicle->brand = 'Porsche' .

A class method may also take one. But a motorcycle has some unique features that a car does not. Rather than type out the whole of the vehicle class definition again. An example follows below. but shows well the commenting of code. A motorcycle is still a vehicle and shares many of the same attributes such as price. or extended class. arguements. or several. If you follow these practices you code will always be readable and easy to follow by yourself and others. You see how easy it would be now to create a new car object. We can also see within the function itself a single line comment just to show what is happening within the funtion itself.$vehicle->drive(). Most methods within a class will return a value. plus whatever is in the new child. The comments begin in a block of C type multiline comments and gives us a brief description of what it does. ?> So. thats the step-by-step of your first class. <?php /** * adds an array of numbers and returns the value * * @param array $numbers An array of numbers to add * * @access private * * @return int Returns sum of numbers * */ private function sum_of_numbers ($numbers){ /*** return the sum of the $numbers array ***/ return array_sum($numbers). } ?> The above function is rather simplistic.00. <?php .php. rather than echo a line of HTML code. Inheritance (Extending a class) Probably the greatest feature of the PHP OOP model is Inheritence. followed by the parameter it takes. In this instance we will extend the vehicle class and add a motorcyle. It is good practice to show what these arguements are and there types. OOP can get very abstracted and if you are not careful it is easy to lose site of your programmatical work flow. drive etc. Perhaps a Red Ferrari with 4 doors costing $250.000. Commenting Code In the previous sections you have seen comments for almost every line of code. It is important here to note the naming convention here as it will be important later in this tutorial. The resulting object of an extend class has all the charactaristics of the parent class. Inheritence is the ability of php to extend classes (child classes) that inherit the charactaristics of the parent class. This is a good practice. in this case an array of numbers.class. Lets see how it works. as it may not be you who has to edit the code next time. Finally the comment block tells us that the return value is of type INT. we will save it in a file of its own called vehicle. although some may find it excessive. It tells us that access to the function is private (more on this in the next section).

class motorcycle extends vehicle{ /*** the number of side cars ***/ private $num_sidecars .class./*** include the vehicle class definition ***/ include('vehicle.php' ). /** * * set the type of handlebars * * @access public * * @param string * * @return string * **/ public function setHandlebars ($handlebarType ){ $this->handlebars =$handlebarType . } /** * * Set number of side cars * * @access public * * @param int * * @return int * **/ public function setSidecar ($numSidecars ){ $this->numSidecars = $numSidecars . } /** * * Show the numbers of sidecars * . private $handlebars .

/*** number of doors ***/ $vehicle->num_doors = 0. /*** the shape of vehicle ***/ $vehicle->shape = 'Sportster' .* @return string * **/ public function showSideCar (){ echo 'This motorcyle has '.': '. /*** the color of the vehicle ***/ $vehicle->color = 'Black'.'<br />'.$vehicle->shape. /*** show the sidecars ***/ $vehicle->showSideCar (). /*** the brand of vehicle ***/ $vehicle->brand = 'Harley Davidson' . /*** show the vehicle brand and type ***/ echo $vehicle->brand. /*** set the sidecar ***/ $vehicle->setSidecar (1). /*** call the showPrice method ***/ $vehicle->showPrice (). $this->numSidecars . /*** type of handle bars ***/ $vehicle->setHandlebars ('Ape Hangers'). /*** cost of the vehicle ***/ $vehicle->price = 25000.' sidecar<br />'. . } } /*** end of class ***/ /*** our userland code ***/ /*** create a new vehicle object ***/ $vehicle = new motorcycle .

(properties. methods). It is good practice to declare the visibility of class members for the sake of readability for yourself and others. Either as code. <?php class mathematics { /*** a number ***/ public $num. } . We can then proceed to set vars in the both the parent class and the child class. ?> You see in the motorcycle class that we have used the keyword extends to extend our vehicle class./*** drive the vehicle ***/ $vehicle->drive(). Visibility (public. Three levels of visibilty exist for class members. This means if you do not declare a property or method within the class. It is much easier for another programmer to see your intentions. or from outside the class.php on line 3 You MUST include the class definition on *every page* when you store an object This means when you use an object or wish to extend from it. The child class has inherited all the characaristics of the parent vehicle class. you will get a Fatal Error like this: Fatal error: Class 'vehicle' not found in /www/oop. all class members are public. protected) The visibility of class members. Lets create a simple new class to demonstrate. This will also future proof your scripts should access modifiers be deprecated. Public class members (properties and methods) are available through-out the script and may be accessed from outside the class as we demonstrated in our car class. relates to how that member may be manipulated within. with an include() statement. y y y public private protected By default. or most commonly. you must include the class file. If you run the above code with out including the parent class. it will be public. private. /** * * Add two to a number * * @access public * * @return int * **/ public function addTwo(){ return $this->num+2.

To counter this problem we can create a method to set the value for us. So we make the variable private. but it can also work against us. } /** * . This ensures us that the property is only available within the class itself. <?php class mathematics { /*** a number ***/ private $num. /** * * Set the value of $num * * @access public * * @param $num The number to set * * @return int * **/ public function setNum($num){ $this->num = $num. A could arise if we lost track of our values and changed the value of $num.}/*** end of class ***/ /*** Instantiate a new class instance ***/ $math = new mathematics . Having our properties (variables) visible. Consider the following code. It is private to the calling class. ?> We can see in the above example that the public variable $num is set from user space and we call a public method that adds two the number and returns the value of $num+2. Even with this in place it is still possible for somebody to simply access the $num variable. /*** call the addTwo method ***/ echo $math->addTwo(). or accessible from any part of our script works in our favour here. /*** set the value of the number ***/ $math->num = 2.

/*** set the value of the number ***/ $math->setNum(2). But unlike private. Like the private keyword.class. /*** call the addTwo method ***/ echo $math->addTwo(). Lets see how this works. ?> ?> Any further attempt to reset the $num property without the setNum() method would result in a Fatal Error such as Fatal error: Cannot access private property mathematics::$num in /www/mathematics. protected methods and properties are visible from a parent class.php on line 43 Even if you were to try to access the private $num property from a child class it would fail. To access a parent method or property from a child class you need to use the protected keyword.* Add two to a number * * @access public * * @return int * **/ public function addTwo(){ return $this->num+2. <?php class mathematics { /*** a number ***/ protected $num. This is because private methods and properties in a parent class are not visible to child classes and cannot be accessed. } }/*** end of class ***/ /*** Instantiate a new class instance ***/ $math = new mathematics . /** * * Set the value of $num * * @access public * * @param $num The number to set * . protetected methods and properties are available only to the class that created them.

/*** return the new number and round to 2 decimal places ***/ return round($new_num. /*** set the value of the number ***/ . 2). } /** * * Add two to a number * * @access public * * @return int * **/ public function addTwo(){ return $this->num+2.* @return int * **/ public function setNum($num){ $this->num = $num. } } /*** end of class ***/ /*** Instantiate a new class instance ***/ $math = new divide. } }/*** end of class ***/ class divide extends mathematics { /** * * Divide a number by two * * @access public * * @return int * **/ public function divideByTwo (){ /*** divide number by two ***/ $new_num = $this->num/2.

We are able to do this because the $num property has been declared protected and is visible to the child class. ?> We can see here the the user space code has called the setNum() method in the parent mathematics class. Final As we saw in the previous section there are ways to protect your code from being used in an improper manner. You cannot create a new object from it. To see this lets make a basic class. echo $math->divideByTwo (). in turn. sets the $num property. <?php final class mathematics { } /*** end of class ***/ class divide extends mathematics { } ?> By running the above code you will get an error such as Fatal error: Class divide may not inherit from final class (mathematics) in /www/final.php on line 8 This can protect us from those who wish to use our code for a purpose other than that for which it was intended. . Any method or class that is declared as Final cannot be overridden or inherited by another class. This method. Abstract Classes An abstract class is a class that cannot be instantiated on its own. Lets put it to the test.$math->setNum(14). Another way of protecting yourself is the Final keyword. <?php abstract class mathematics { /** * * Add two to a number * * @access public * * @return int * **/ public function addTwo(){ return $this->num+2.

As you can see. you can inherit from an abstract class. you will get an error something like this Fatal error: Cannot instantiate abstract class mathematics in /www/abstract. Any class that extends an abstract parent class must create an interface of the parent abstract methods. /** * * method common to both classes * **/ public function showMessage () { echo $this->getMessage (). } } /*** end of class ***/ class myMath extends mathematics { /** * * Prefix to the answer * * @return string * **/ protected function getMessage (){ return "The anwser is: ". you must also declare the class itself as abstract too.} } /*** end of class ***/ /*** try to create new object from the mathematics class ***/ $math = new mathematics ?> Using the code above. So.php on line 23. If this is not done a fatal error is generated. this is not allowed. <?php abstract class mathematics { /*** child class must define these methods ***/ abstract protected function getMessage (). Also if you declare any class method to be abstract. abstract protected function addTwo($num1). whats the point you ask? Well. } /** . This ensures that the implementation is correct.

<?php /*** a simple class ***/ class myClass{ /*** a static variable ***/ static $foo. } /** give the static variable a value ***/ myClass::$foo = 'Bar'.* * add two to a number * * @access public * * @param $num1 A number to be added to * * @return int * **/ public function addTwo($num1) { return $num1+2. /*** echo the static variable ***/ echo (myClass::$foo ). /*** do the math ***/ echo $myMath->addTwo(4). } } /*** end of class ***/ /*** a new instance of myMath ***/ $myMath = new myMath. ?> . /*** show the message ***/ $myMath->showMessage (). Lets whip up a quick example of using static. eg: public static myClass{ Because there is no object created when using a static call. ?> Static Methods and Properties The use of the static keyword allows class members (methods and properties) to be used without needing to instantiate a new instance of the class. Static variables belong to the class itself and not to any object of that class. the keyword $this and the arrow operator. -> are not available. To access withing the class itself you need to use the self keyword along with the :: scope resolution operator. The static declaratin must come after the visibility declaration.

The above snippet will echo Bar This is rather basic as an example. /** * Constructor. so lets use something practical. /*** echo the new count ***/ echo counter::getCount().'<br />'. <?php class counter{ /*** our count variable ***/ private static $count = 0. Static properties are often used as counters. } /** * * get the current count * * @access public * * @return int * **/ public static function getCount() { return self::$count. duh **/ function __construct () { self::$count++. Here we will use a basic counter class. ?> .'<br />'. '<br />'. echo counter::getCount(). /*** and a third instance ***/ $third = new counter. /*** create another instance ***/ $next = new counter(). } } /*** end of class ***/ /*** create a new instance ***/ $count = new counter(). /*** get the count ***/ echo counter::getCount() .

' doors.<br />'.$this->num_doors . Interfaces make this a much easier process. The interface methods have no internal logic.Hopefully by the end of the above snippet you can see what is happening. One of the goals of OOP is re-use of code. /*** the price of the vehicle ***/ public $price.<br />'. /*** the number of doors ***/ public $num_doors .$this->price. } /*** define some public methods ***/ /*** a method to show the vehicle price ***/ public function showPrice (){ echo 'This vehicle costs '. /*** the shape of the vehicle ***/ public $shape. /*** the brand of vehicle ***/ public $brand. Interfaces Interfaces in PHP allow you to define a common structure for your classes. they are simply a "mapping" or constraint of what the class. with the addition of a stop() function. <?php class vehicle implements testdrive{ /*** define public properties ***/ /*** the color of the vehicle ***/ public $color. or classes. } /*** a method to show the number of doors ***/ public function numDoors(){ echo 'This vehicle has '. An interface cannot be instantiated on its own. Here we will demonstrate how this works using our vehicle class from earlier. should implement.'. Not also the use of the :: scope resolution operator and self keyword to refer to the static variable within the class itself. } . /*** the constructor ***/ public function __construct (){ echo 'About this Vehicle. At each new instance the counter class we increment by one.<br />'.

PHP would have no way of telling which of these methods to use. } . but different functionality or charactaristics. } } /*** end of class ***/ /*** declare our interface ***/ interface testdrive { /*** some functions that must be implemented ***/ function drive(). one for a fax and the other for a printer. } /** * a method to stop the car * * @access public * **/ public function stop(){ echo 'SSSCCRRREEEEEECCHH!!!<br />'. function stop()./*** method to drive the vehicle ***/ public function drive(){ echo 'VRRROOOOOOM!!!' . but they will not inherit from each other. you may choose to override some of parent methods. In contrast. $object->stop(). /*** call some methods ***/ $object->drive(). If we had two classes. Each has seperate uses and could be described like this: <?php class fax{ public function dial(). public function recieve(). When you inherit from a parent class. must implement every method so there is no ambiguity. classes that implement an interface. } /*** an new vehicle object ***/ $object = new vehicle. This is why multiple inheritance does not work in PHP. In the real world interfaces provide us with the tools harness parts of multiple classes. Consider this scenario. If you had multiple parent class methods with the same name. public function send(). ?> You may of course create multiple classes to implement your interface.

Then the printer class extends the fax class and inherits all the methods from that class.class printer{ public function printBlack (). } class printerFax extends fax{ } $object = new printerFax . but they do not take into consideration the existance of a printer/fax machine. This is where some problems may arise. The printer class now has the function dial() available to it which is clearly going to cause some confusion and possibly errors in logic. public function recieve(). To counter this problem an interface can be used to tell the classes what functions (methods) are required. public function printColor (). To get the usage of both classes we would do something like this: <?php class fax{ public function dial(). } class printer extends fax{ public function printBlack (). public function kick(). public function printColor (). public function printDraft (). The grandparent class is fax. Lets look at the design. public function printDraft (). } interface printer{ public function printBlack (). ?> This code works by creating a stack of classes. <?php interface fax{ public function dial(). public function printColor (). public function send(). public function send(). } ?> Both of the above classes give the required usage for each item. public function recieve(). .

y y y y get_declared_interfaces() class_exists() get_class() get_declared_classes() Each of these is shown here beginning with the get_declared_interfaces(). It will produce no output but we need to be sure all is well. } class printerFax implements fax. printer{ public function dial(){ } public function send(){ } public function recieve(){ } public function printBlack (){ } public function printColor (){ } public function printDraft (){ } public function kick(){ } } $object = new printerFax . PHP Class functions PHP has available several class functions to help you through the OOP mine field.public function printDraft (). ?> Before we go further. we have essentially broken the contract that says we will implement every function (method) specified in the interface. get_declared_interfaces() This helper function provides an array of all the available declared interfaces. Having run the code. What you should now get is an error such as: Fatal error: Class printerFax contains 1 abstract method and must therefore be declared abstract or implement the remaining methods (printer::kick) in /www/oop. remove the line public function kick(){ } and run it again. it is recommended you run the above code. <?php interface fax{ public function dial().php on line 22 With the kick() function removed from our implementation. public function kick(). } . public function send(). Interfaces play a major role in with SPL and it is recommend you implement the interfaces from SPL and not just the class methods. We can gather these functions fractionally from multiple classes. public function recieve(). but we MUST have them all or we will get errors such as the one above.

rather it is an implentation of an interface. .' =&gt. public function printDraft ().$interface . public function kick(). printer{ public function dial(){ } public function send(){ } public function recieve(){ } public function printBlack (){ } public function printColor (){ } public function printDraft (){ } public function kick(){ } } /*** create and printerfax object ***/ $object = new printerFax.interface printer{ public function printBlack (). '. public function printColor ().'<br />'. } /*** our interface implementation ***/ class printerFax implements fax. /*** get the declared interfaces ***/ foreach(get_declared_interfaces () as $key=>$interface ) { echo $key. The printerfax is not listed as it is not an interface. } ?> The above code should produce a list such as this: y y y y y y y y y y y y y y 0 => Traversable 1 => IteratorAggregate 2 => Iterator 3 => ArrayAccess 4 => Serializable 5 => RecursiveIterator 6 => OuterIterator 7 => SeekableIterator 8 => Countable 9 => SplObserver 10 => SplSubject 11 => Reflector 12 => fax 13 => printer From the list above you can see the SPL interfaces available and at the bottom is our fax and printer interfaces.

such as these below. Note our fax and printer classes at the bottom of the list. shortened here for the sake of sanity. echo class_exists ("printer" ).'<br />'.' class<br />'. echo '$foo is from the ' get_class($foo). /*** create an instance of the printer class ***/ $bar = new printer.Other functions Here we will see three helper functions for our classes y y y get_class() class_exists() get_declared_classes <?php /*** a pretend class ***/ class fax{ public function dial(){ } public function send(){ } public function recieve(){ } } /*** another pretend class ***/ class printer{ public function printBlack (){ } public function printColor (){ } public function printDraft (){ } public function kick(){ } } /*** create an instance of the fax class ***/ $foo = new fax. '. echo 'Declared classes are:<br /> '. y y y y $foo is from the fax class 1 0 -> stdClass 1 -> Exception . foreach(get_declared_classes () as $key=>$classname ) { echo $key.'<br />'.$classname .' -&gt. } ?> The little snippet above will produce over one hundred available classes.

y y y ---8<--. strtolower ($class) . include('classes/motorcycle. this is quite cumbersome. <?php /*** Autoload class files ***/ function __autoload ($class){ require('classes/' . *** instantiate a new fax class object ***/ $fax = new fax.class.class. . The __autoload() function will internally search out the class and load its definition.php' ). The solution to this sort of mess is __autoload(). *** instantiate a new motorcycle class object ***/ $bike = new motorcycle .class. ?> As you can see.php' ).php' ). } /*** instantiate a new vehicle class object ***/ $vehicle = new vehicle.php' ).php' ).class. include('classes/printer. *** instantiate a new printer class object ***/ $printer = new printer.snip --106 -> fax 107 -> printer Autoload Earlier in this tutorial we stated that the class definition must be included in every call to an object. include('classes/printer. So the above block of code could be reduced to this. <?php /*** include our class definitions ***/ include('classes/vehicle. /*** instantiate a new vehicle class object ***/ $vehicle = new vehicle. This is commonly achieved with the include() or require() functions such as below.class. '.

.php The use of the strtolower() function assures compatibility of naming conventions as windows machines fail to be case sensitive for filenames.hmm Overloading in PHP has caused much confusion for no real reason. ?> Now we can load up as many class definitions as we like because they will be autoloaded when we try to use a class that has not been defined. eg: a class definition file named fax would have the filename fax. <?php /*** code here ***/ ?> Overloading Comes a time in every programmers life when. This can save much coding and much searching for code. But what if we needed to somehow store an object for later retrieval. /*** instantiate a new fax class object ***/ $fax = new fax.. This special function is only called when the original method name does not exist. Method Overloading is achieved by a special function named __call(). } } /*** end of class ***/ . /*** instantiate a new printer class object ***/ $printer = new printer. <?php class my_class{ public function foo() { return "This is the foo function" . The __call() will only work when the class method you are trying to access does not exist. Serializing Objects We have seen a lot of code above for the use of objects and how they can save us time (and $$$) by re-using them. Each class file should be named the same as the class definition itself./*** instantiate a new motorcycle class object ***/ $bike = new motorcycle . perhaps in a database or in a session variable? PHP has given us the serialize() function to make this rather effortless. Lets see how it performs with a little code. There are some limitations. Lets take it for a spin. It is available as a sort of method wildcard for calls to undefined methods within a class. but this can be a very useful tool for applications. PHP Overloading can be broken downinto two basic components y y Method overloading Property overloading Simply put. It is important to remember the naming convention of your classes and class files..class.

/*** our call function ***/ . <?php class readyGetSet { /*** declare $item ***/ private $item = 'Skate Board'. Enter __call(). } } /*** end of class ***/ /*** create a new class object ***/ $obj = new my_class.php on line 12 because we have called the bar() class method that does not exist. PHP will try to create the function and you have any code within the _call() method that you like. /*** call a non-existant method ***/ $obj->bar("arg1".'<br />'./*** create a new class object ***/ $obj = new my_class. /*** declare the price ***/ private $price = 100. } /*** __call() method with two args ***/ public function __call($method. Your call to the undefined method may have many arguements and these are returned in an array. $arg){ echo $method. With the __call() function in place. Lets now look at we can dynimically manipulate or overload our data. print_r($arg). the method name. ?> Of course the above snippet of code will produce an error such as Fatal error: Call to undefined method my_class::bar() in /www/overload. Lets put it to the test with two args. ?> The above code will print the following bar Array ( [0] => arg1 [1] => arg2 ) The __call() method has returned the method name that we called along with the array of args passed to it. The __call() method takes two arguements. /*** call a non-existant method ***/ $obj->bar(). and the arguements. <?php class my_class{ public function foo() { return "This is the foo function" . "arg2").

echo 'Price: ' . } if ($prefix == 'get' && isset($this->$property)) { return $this->$property . if (empty($prefix) || empty($property)) { return. '<br />'. echo 'Item: ' . $arguments ){ /*** set property and prefix ***/ $prefix = strtolower (substr($method. echo 'Item: ' . ?> The second part of overloading refers to properties and the ability to be able to dynamically get and set object properties. and __set() is called when trying to change that properties value. 3)). echo 'Price: ' . The __get() function is called when reading the value of an undefined property. 0. } } } $obj = new readyGetSet . '<br />'. /*** a normal method ***/ public function wrap(){ . $obj->getItem() . $obj->setItem('CD')..function __call($method. $obj->getPrice() . $property = strtolower (substr($method. '<br />'. } if ($prefix == 'set') { $this->$property = $arguments [0].. I hope this is clear as it can get a little confusing. $obj->setPrice(25). $obj->getPrice() . $obj->getItem() . 3)). <?php class candy{ /*** declare a property ***/ public $type='chocolate' . '<br />'. Lets see how it works by example.

} /*** our __set() function ***/ public function __get($index){ echo 'Retrieving element of $choctype property with index of '. } /*** our __set() function ***/ public function __set($index. <?php class candy{ /*** declare a property ***/ public $type='chocolate' . public $choctype = array('milk'=>0. It has a simple method and our __set() method. } . 'dark'=>1.echo 'Its a wrap'.' <br />'. 'plain'=>2). plus its intended value. return $this->choctype[$index]. We then see in our __set method that it echoes the name of the variable. The __set() method takes two arguements.. The __get() method .' is '.$index. ?> The result from above will be: The value of bar is Blue Smarties Lets see what we have done. /*** set a non existant property ***/ $candy->bar = 'Blue Smarties' .$index.. the name of the non existant variable. After the class our user code creates a new instance of the candy class. We have described a class named candy which contains a public property named $type.. Then we try to set a variable that does not exist in the class. } } /*** end of class ***/ /*** a new candy object ***/ $candy = new candy. /*** a normal method ***/ public function wrap(){ echo 'Its a wrap'. Here the __set method takes control and assigns it for us. $value){ echo 'The value of '. and its intended value.$value.

To define a standard constant we use this code: /*** define an error message ***/ define('_ERROR_MSG'. ?> From the above code we get the result Retrieving element of $choctype property with index of milk The value of the following element property is 0 Class Constants You have more than likely seen the use standard constants in PHP. /*** static call to the show method() ***/ . /*** echo the constant ***/ echo _ERROR_MSG. <?php class my_class { /*** define a class constant ***/ const _ERROR_MSG = 'An Error has occured!' . 'An Error has occured!').} /*** end of class ***/ /*** a new candy object ***/ $candy = new candy. } } /*** end of class ***/ ?> There are now three ways the class constant can be access from this example.$candy->milk. public function show(){ echo self::_ERROR_MSG . /*** set a non existant property ***/ echo 'The value of the following element property is '. /*** can run the show() method ***/ $my_class ->show(). ?> The above snippit would output An Error has occured! To define a class constant we use the const keyword. /*** instantiate a class object ***/ $my_class = new my_class. <?php /*** static call to constant ***/ echo my_class::_ERROR_MSG .

. It cannot be a variable or the result of a function or method. ?> Each of the above methods would output the same line An Error has occured! A class constant. must be exactly as the name suggests. like standard constants. a constant value.my_class::show().

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