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Tom Lei for Beanworks

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PHP For The Impatient

We are primarily a PHP shop for about half of the engineering team here at Beanworks. PHP tends to have a bad reputation out there, but with PHP 7 (and potentially PHP 8), it's really becoming a mature and powerful language while keeping its simplicity.

I always tell new engineers with no prior PHP experience that if you're able to write code in any language, you will be able to learn PHP pretty quickly.

In this article we will explore some PHP syntax and compare it to Javascript or Typescript.

I have added 🔁 icon to the ones that have identical syntax.

Basic Syntax

Variables

In PHP land, all variables have to start with a dollar sign $

PHP

$foo = 'bar';

NodeJS

let foo = 'bar';

Template Literals

You can use variables in strings as long as the string is wrapped with double quote ("), strings wrapped with single quotes will not evaluate the variables.

PHP

$str = "My name is {$name}"

NodeJs

let str = `My name is ${name}`

Constants 🔁

PHP has real constants, they must be capitalized, but otherwise the syntax is actually the same

PHP

const FOO = 'bar';

NodeJS

const FOO = 'bar';

Arrays

PHP

$arr = ['a', 'b'];

// you can iterate using foreach
foreach ($arr as $element) {
  ...
}

NodeJS

let arr = ['a', 'b'];

// you can iterate using for ... of
for (let element of arr) {
  ...
}


Objects

In PHP land, objects are just arrays, associative arrays. Instead of using :, you need to use a double arrow =>

PHP

$myFavouriteVehicles = [
  'Toyota' => ['4Runner','Tacoma'],
  'Ford' => ['Bronco']
];

$fordVehicles = $myFavouriteVehicles['Ford'];

// you can iterate key => value using foreach
foreach ($myFavouriteVehicles as $brand => $vehicles) {
   ...
}

Javascript

let myFavouriteVehicles = {
  'Toyota': ['4Runner','Tacoma'],
  'Ford': ['Bronco']
}

let fordVehicles = myFavouriteVehicles['Bronco'];

// you can iterate key value with Object.entries
for (let [brand, vehicles] of Object.entries(myFavouriteVehicles)) {
  ...
}

Callback functions

In most of the PHP land, you still have to write call back functions like you had to in ES5 days, arrow function is only recently supported in PHP7.4

PHP 🔁

array_map(function($element) {...}, $arr);

// or in PHP 7.4+ you can use arrow function, no multi line though
array_map(fn($element) => ..., $arr)

NodeJS

arr.map(function (element) {...});

// Arrow function since ES6
arr.map(element => ...);

Classes & Inheritance

PHP's uses the same syntax extending classes and interfaces

PHP 🔁

class Foo extends Bar implements FooBarInterface

Typescript

class Foo extends Bar implements FooBarInterface

Type system

Contrary to popular beliefs, PHP does have a type system that works similar to other OOP languages, and with each new version of PHP, the type system is getting better.

PHP

public function writeLine (string content, LineWriter $writer) : string {
    return content;
}

Typescript

public writeLine( content : string, lineWriter lineWriter) : string {
    return content;
}

Invoke Methods

To invoke a method, you need to use -> instead of a dot in PHP.

PHP

$logger->log('PHP uses ->');

NodeJs

logger.log('Node uses .');

Generators 🔁

There is no special syntax in the function signature if you want to use the yield keyword

PHP

public function getLaptopBrands() : Iterator {
  yield 'Lenovo';
  yield 'Asus';
  yield 'Dell';
}

TypeScript

public function* getLaptopBrands() : IterableIterator<string> {
  yield 'Lenovo';
  yield 'Asus';
  yield 'Dell';
}

Yield from generator

In PHP you can use the yield from syntax to yield from a generator

PHP

public function getComputerBrands() : Iterator {
  yield from getLaptopBrands();
  yield from getDesktopBrands();
}

TypeScript

public function* getLaptopBrands() : IterableIterator<string> {
  yield* getLaptopBrands();
  yield* getDesktopBrands();
}

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