Tag: namespaces

PHP Namespaces

Posted by – October 26, 2008

I have been seeing alot of complaining lately regarding PHP namespaces, and I thought I would chime in with my (often opposing) views. First off, let me explain the issue.

The new version of PHP will have a new feature, called namespaces. (I wrote about it in my post”PHP 5.3 Feature Preview“. This is a great featured, and one that the community as a whole is excited about. So what is the problem, then?

Well initially PHP was going to use the standard “::” syntax to invoke the namespace. For example:


namespace Foo;
function bar() {
echo "Namespace Foo";
}
Foo::bar();


However, this became a problem for the parsing engine, as it is the same way to call a static function.


class Foo{
static function bar(){
echo "Class Foo";
}
}
Foo::bar();

So instead, PHP changed the syntax to a blackslash. So now, in the first example, you have ‘Foo\bar();’ while in the second, you still have ‘Foo::bar();’ Seems reasonable to me (and the PHP core members) but not to some.

For example, Ninh complains on his blog that if you put the invocation in double quotes, it will interpret things like “\t” as a tab, and that you have to use 2 backslashes. I really don’t see this being a problem. First off, why on earth would you use double quotes? There are no variables or single quotes being used in the string, so one should be using single quotes anyways. That is just good programming practice.

Even if you do use double quotes, there is a tried and true, standard solution to escape the backslash character. It is so obiquitous, that Ninh didn’t have to learn how to use it, he already knew about it, yet is still complaining. His problem with this method? “It looks like crap”. I’m sorry, I though we were using logic to code web applications, not painting a picture. And even at that, why does “::” look awesome, but “\\” look like crap? I don’t get it.

My favorite quote if from the very end of his post. He claims “Last time I checked, the world wasn’t filled with scrawny developers that would come crying to their mommies after getting their first facepalm of ‘AmbiguousInvocationError’.” And yet he is crying to his mommy (or rather, the blogosphere) because if he uses double quotes (which he doesn’t have to) then he has to escape the backslash character (a standard practice) and that’s “ugly”.

So what are your thoughts? Maybe I’m crazy, and this is a huge deal. I just don’t see it.

PHP 5.3 Feature Preview

Posted by – August 13, 2008

Earlier this month the PHP development team released an alpha version of the PHP platform (Read the Official Announcement). Of course there are many bug fixes, improvements, and new features. Here is a quick breakdown of the new features I am most excited for:

• Namespaces – Finally! No longer do you have to worry about variable, function, or class names in the global scope interfering with other code libraries you may be using. A namespace essentially gives you your own personal global namespace, which you get to define. This means if you create a class called ‘user’, you can use someone else’s codebase even if they have a ‘user’ class as well.  Other languages such as C++ have had this feature for years, so its great to finally have it available to PHP. This may convince some that PHP is a viable solution in more huge, enterprise level codebases.
• Late Static Binding – this is for those hardcore OOP coders. What this allows you to do, is reference an objects type (class name) from a function that is only available via inheritance. Its a confusing concept, but can prove useful in some situations. For a better example, see the Late Static Bindings Manual (procedural programmers need not apply).
• Lambda Functions and Closures – Lambda functions are essentially anonymous, throw away functions. They can be useful if you want to use a simple function when you are already inside a function. Without Lambda functions, it would need to be defined elsewhere. However in some cases this can be hard to follow when reading the code, and seems wasteful when you only need to use the function once. A perfect use-case for Lambda functions is when they are defined for callbacks for other functions, such as array_walk(), or preg_replace_callback(). With Lambda functions, you can assign the function to a variable. Javascript programmers will recognize these as anonymous functions, as they are something many javascript programmers use heavily.

These are all very welcome additions, and I can’t wait till the stable version is out. The current roadmap estimates a stable version will be available by mid-October. Kudos, PHP Development team, keep up the good work!