## FAQ: things you need to know about namespaces

(PHP 5 >= 5.3.0, PHP 7, PHP 8)

This FAQ is split into two sections: common questions, and some specifics of implementation that are helpful to understand fully.

First, the common questions.

There are a few implementation details of the namespace implementations that are helpful to understand.

### If I don't use namespaces, should I care about any of this?

No. Namespaces do not affect any existing code in any way, or any as-yet-to-be-written code that does not contain namespaces. You can write this code if you wish:

Example #1 Accessing global classes outside a namespace

 <?php$a = new \stdClass;?>  This is functionally equivalent to: Example #2 Accessing global classes outside a namespace  <?php$a = new stdClass;?> 

### How do I use internal or global classes in a namespace?

Example #3 Accessing internal classes in namespaces

### How does a name like my\name resolve?

Names that contain a backslash but do not begin with a backslash like my\name can be resolved in 2 different ways.

If there is an import statement that aliases another name to my, then the import alias is applied to the my in my\name.

Otherwise, the current namespace name is prepended to my\name.

Example #6 Qualified names

### How does an unqualified function name or unqualified constant name like name resolve?

Function or constant names that do not contain a backslash like name can be resolved in 2 different ways.

First, the current namespace name is prepended to name.

Finally, if the constant or function name does not exist in the current namespace, a global constant or function name is used if it exists.

Example #8 Unqualified function or constant names

 <?phpnamespace foo;use blah\blah as foo;const FOO = 1;function my() {}function foo() {}function sort(&$a){ \sort($a); // calls the global function "sort"    $a = array_flip($a);    return $a;}my(); // calls "foo\my"$a = strlen('hi'); // calls global function "strlen" because "foo\strlen" does not exist$arr = array(1,3,2);$b = sort($arr); // calls function "foo\sort"$c = foo(); // calls function "foo\foo" - import is not applied$a = FOO; // sets$a to value of constant "foo\FOO" - import is not applied$b = INI_ALL; // sets$b to value of global constant "INI_ALL"?> 

### Import names must not conflict with classes defined in the same file.

The following script combinations are legal:

file1.php

 <?phpnamespace my\stuff;class MyClass {}?> 

another.php

 <?phpnamespace another;class thing {}?> 

file2.php

 <?phpnamespace my\stuff;include 'file1.php';include 'another.php';use another\thing as MyClass;$a = new MyClass; // instantiates class "thing" from namespace another?>  There is no name conflict, even though the class MyClass exists within the my\stuff namespace, because the MyClass definition is in a separate file. However, the next example causes a fatal error on name conflict because MyClass is defined in the same file as the use statement.  <?phpnamespace my\stuff;use another\thing as MyClass;class MyClass {} // fatal error: MyClass conflicts with import statement$a = new MyClass;?> 

### Nested namespaces are not allowed.

PHP does not allow nesting namespaces

 <?phpnamespace my\stuff {    namespace nested {        class foo {}    }}?> 
However, it is easy to simulate nested namespaces like so:
 <?phpnamespace my\stuff\nested {    class foo {}}?> 

### Dynamic namespace names (quoted identifiers) should escape backslash

It is very important to realize that because the backslash is used as an escape character within strings, it should always be doubled when used inside a string. Otherwise there is a risk of unintended consequences:

Example #9 Dangers of using namespaced names inside a double-quoted string

 <?php$a = "dangerous\name"; // \n is a newline inside double quoted strings!$obj = new $a;$a = 'not\at\all\dangerous'; // no problems here.$obj = new$a;?> 
Inside a single-quoted string, the backslash escape sequence is much safer to use, but it is still recommended practice to escape backslashes in all strings as a best practice.

### Undefined Constants referenced using any backslash die with fatal error

Any undefined constant that is unqualified like FOO will produce a notice explaining that PHP assumed FOO was the value of the constant. Any constant, qualified or fully qualified, that contains a backslash will produce a fatal error if not found.

Example #10 Undefined constants

 <?phpnamespace bar;$a = FOO; // produces notice - undefined constants "FOO" assumed "FOO";$a = \FOO; // fatal error, undefined namespace constant FOO$a = Bar\FOO; // fatal error, undefined namespace constant bar\Bar\FOO$a = \Bar\FOO; // fatal error, undefined namespace constant Bar\FOO?> 

### Cannot override special constants NULL, TRUE, FALSE, ZEND_THREAD_SAFE or ZEND_DEBUG_BUILD

Any attempt to define a namespaced constant that is a special, built-in constant results in a fatal error

Example #11 Undefined constants

 <?phpnamespace bar;const NULL = 0; // fatal error;const true = 'stupid'; // also fatal error;// etc.?> 

### User Contributed Notes 5 notes

shaun at slickdesign dot com dot au
5 years ago
 When creating classes or calling static methods from within namespaces using variables, you need to keep in mind that they require the full namespace in order for the appropriate class to be used; you CANNOT use an alias or short name, even if it is called within the same namespace. Neglecting to take this into account can cause your code to use the wrong class, throw a fatal missing class exception, or throw errors or warnings.In these cases, you can use the magic constant __NAMESPACE__, or specify the full namespace and class name directly. The function class_exists also requires the full namespace and class name, and can be used to ensure that a fatal error won't be thrown due to missing classes.<?phpnamespace Foo;class Bar {    public static function test() {        return get_called_class();    }}namespace Foo\Foo;class Bar extends \Foo\Bar {}var_dump( Bar::test() ); // string(11) "Foo\Foo\Bar"$bar = 'Foo\Bar';var_dump($bar::test() ); // string(7) "Foo\Bar"$bar = __NAMESPACE__ . '\Bar';var_dump($bar::test() ); // string(11) "Foo\Foo\Bar"$bar = 'Bar';var_dump($bar::test() ); // FATAL ERROR: Class 'Bar' not found or Incorrect class \Bar used 
15
manolachef at gmail dot com
9 years ago
 There is a way to define a namespaced constant that is a special, built-in constant, using define function and setting the third parameter case_insensitive to false:<?phpnamespace foo;define(__NAMESPACE__ . '\NULL', 10); // defines the constant NULL in the current namespacevar_dump(NULL); // will show 10var_dump(null); // will show NULL?>  No need to specify the namespace in your call to define(), like it happens usually<?phpnamespace foo;define(INI_ALL, 'bar'); // produces notice - Constant INI_ALL already defined. But:define(__NAMESPACE__ . '\INI_ALL', 'bar'); // defines the constant INI_ALL in the current namespacevar_dump(INI_ALL); // will show string(3)"bar". Nothing unespected so far. But:define('NULL', 10); // defines the constant NULL in the current namespace...var_dump(NULL); // will show 10var_dump(null); // will show NULL?>  If the parameter case_insensitive is set to true<?phpnamespace foo;define (__NAMESPACE__ . '\NULL', 10, true); // produces notice - Constant null already defined?> 
teohad at NOSPAM dot gmail dot com
5 years ago
 [Editor's note: that behavior is caused by a bug in PHP 7.0, which has been fixed as of PHP 7.0.7.] Regarding the entry "Import names cannot conflict with classes defined in the same file". - I found that since PHP 7.0 this is no longer the case. In PHP 7.0 you can have a class with a name that matches an imported class (or namespace or both at the same time). <?php namespace ns1 {   class ns1 {     public static function write() {       echo "ns1\\ns1::write()\n";     }   } } namespace ns1\ns1 {   class ns1c {     public static function write() {       echo "ns1\\ns1\\ns1c::write()\n";     }   } } namespace ns2 {   use ns1\ns1 as ns1; // both a class in ns1, and a namespace ns1\ns1       // the next class causes fatal error in php 5.6, not in 7.0   class ns1 {     public static function write() {       echo "ns2\\ns1::write()\n";     }   }       ns1::write(); // calls imported ns1\ns1::write()   ns1\ns1c::write(); // calls imported ns1\ns1\ns1c::write()   namespace\ns1::write(); // calls ns2\ns1::write() } ?> 
phpcoder
6 years ago
 Regarding "Neither functions nor constants can be imported via the use statement." Actually you can do it in PHP 5.6+:<?php// importing a function (PHP 5.6+)use function My\Full\functionName;// aliasing a function (PHP 5.6+)use function My\Full\functionName as func;// importing a constant (PHP 5.6+)use const My\Full\CONSTANT;?> 
-2
okaresz
8 years ago
 To correct manolachef's answer: define() ALWAYS defines constants in the GLOBAL namespace.As nl-x at bita dot nl states in the note at http://www.php.net/manual/en/function.define.php, the constant "NULL" can be defined with define() case-sensitively, but can only be retrieved with constant(), leaving the meaning of NULL uppercase keyword as the only value of the type null.