PHP Tricks: Lazy public readonly properties

Submitted by Larry on 12 November 2021 - 10:50am

I am apparently late in coming to this trick, but PHP 8.1 is going to make it even nicer to use.

A clever trick

There's an interesting intersection of functionality in PHP:

  • Declared object properties are more efficient than dynamic ones, because the engine can make assumptions about what data type to expect.
  • The magic `__get()` and `__set()` methods trigger when there is no property with a given name that has been *set*.
  • Fun fact: A property that has been declared but not initialized with a value is still technically "set"... to `uninitialized`.
  • However, you can `unset()` an uninitialized property.

That means you can do clever tricks like this (and some systems do, internally):

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