Can you create instance properties dynamically in PHP?


Question

Is there any way to create all instance properties dynamically? For example, I would like to be able to generate all attributes in the constructor and still be able to access them after the class is instantiated like this: $object->property. Note that I want to access the properties separately, and not using an array; here's an example of what I don't want:

class Thing {
    public $properties;
    function __construct(array $props=array()) {
        $this->properties = $props;
    }
}
$foo = new Thing(array('bar' => 'baz');
# I don't want to have to do this:
$foo->properties['bar'];
# I want to do this:
//$foo->bar;

To be more specific, when I'm dealing with classes that have a large number of properties, I would like to be able to select all columns in a database (which represent the properties) and create instance properties from them. Each column value should be stored in a separate instance property.

1
58
7/11/2012 10:03:04 PM

Accepted Answer

Sort of. There are magic methods that allow you to hook your own code up to implement class behavior at runtime:

class foo {
  public function __get($name) {
    return('dynamic!');
  }
  public function __set($name, $value) {
    $this->internalData[$name] = $value;
  }
}

That's an example for dynamic getter and setter methods, it allows you to execute behavior whenever an object property is accessed. For example

print(new foo()->someProperty);

would print, in this case, "dynamic!" and you could also assign a value to an arbitrarily named property in which case the __set() method is silently invoked. The __call($name, $params) method does the same for object method calls. Very useful in special cases. But most of the time, you'll get by with:

class foo {
  public function __construct() {
    foreach(getSomeDataArray() as $k => $value)
      $this->{$k} = $value;
  }
}

...because mostly, all you need is to dump the content of an array into correspondingly named class fields once, or at least at very explicit points in the execution path. So, unless you really need dynamic behavior, use that last example to fill your objects with data.

This is called overloading http://php.net/manual/en/language.oop5.overloading.php

61
1/4/2012 10:12:58 PM

It depends exactly what you want. Can you modify the class dynamically? Not really. But can you create object properties dynamically, as in one particular instance of that class? Yes.

class Test
{
    public function __construct($x)
    {
        $this->{$x} = "dynamic";
    }
}

$a = new Test("bar");
print $a->bar;

Outputs:

dynamic

So an object property named "bar" was created dynamically in the constructor.


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