PHP 5.4.33 Released

Retornando referências

Retorno por referência é útil quando você precisa utilizar uma função para localizar variável cuja referência precisa ser obtida. Não use retorno por referência para aumentar performance, a engine é esperta o bastante para otimizar isto para você. Somente retorne referências quando você tem uma razão técnica para isso! Para retornar referências, use a sintaxe:

<?php
class foo {
    public 
$value 42;

    public function &
getValue() {
        return 
$this->value;
    }
}

$obj = new foo;
$myValue = &$obj->getValue(); // $myValue is a reference to $obj->value, which is 42.
$obj->value 2;
echo 
$myValue;                // prints the new value of $obj->value, i.e. 2.
?>
Neste exemplo, a propriedade do objeto retornado pela função getValue precissa ser assimilada, não copiada, como acontecerá se não utilizar a sintaxe de referências.

Nota: Diferentemente da passagem de parâmetros por referência, aqui você precisa utilizar & em ambos os lugares - primeiro para indicar o retorno por referência (e não a cópia), e depois para indicar a ligação da referência (em vez da assimilação convencional) que precisa ser explícita para $myValue.

Se você tentar retornar uma referência de uma função com a sintaxe: return ($this->value); isto não irá funcionar como você espera, para retornar o resultado de uma expressão, e não uma variável, por referência. Você pode somente retornar variáveis por referência para uma função - nada além. Erro E_NOTICE é emitido desde o PHP 4.4.0 e PHP 5.1.0 se o código tenta retornar uma expressão dinâmica ou um resultado do operador new.

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User Contributed Notes 16 notes

up
19
Spad-XIII
6 years ago
a little addition to the example of pixel at minikomp dot com here below
<?php

   
function &func(){
        static
$static = 0;
       
$static++;
        return
$static;
    }

   
$var1 =& func();
    echo
"var1:", $var1; // 1
   
func();
   
func();
    echo
"var1:", $var1; // 3
   
$var2 = func(); // assignment without the &
   
echo "var2:", $var2; // 4
   
func();
   
func();
    echo
"var1:", $var1; // 6
   
echo "var2:", $var2; // still 4

?>
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8
obscvresovl at NOSPAM dot hotmail dot com
9 years ago
An example of returning references:

<?

$var
= 1;
$num = NULL;

function &
blah()
{
   
$var =& $GLOBALS["var"]; # the same as global $var;
   
$var++;
    return
$var;
}

$num = &blah();

echo
$num; # 2

blah();

echo
$num; # 3

?>

Note: if you take the & off from the function, the second echo will be 2, because without & the var $num contains its returning value and not its returning reference.
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7
stanlemon at mac dot com
6 years ago
I haven't seen anyone note method chaining in PHP5.  When an object is returned by a method in PHP5 it is returned by default as a reference, and the new Zend Engine 2 allows you to chain method calls from those returned objects.  For example consider this code:

<?php

class Foo {

    protected
$bar;

    public function
__construct() {
       
$this->bar = new Bar();

        print
"Foo\n";
    }   
   
    public function
getBar() {
        return
$this->bar;
    }
}

class
Bar {

    public function
__construct() {
        print
"Bar\n";
    }
   
    public function
helloWorld() {
        print
"Hello World\n";
    }
}

function
test() {
    return new
Foo();
}

test()->getBar()->helloWorld();

?>

Notice how we called test() which was not on an object, but returned an instance of Foo, followed by a method on Foo, getBar() which returned an instance of Bar and finally called one of its methods helloWorld().  Those familiar with other interpretive languages (Java to name one) will recognize this functionality.  For whatever reason this change doesn't seem to be documented very well, so hopefully someone will find this helpful.
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3
sandaimespaceman at gmail dot com
5 years ago
The &b() function returns a reference of $a in the global scope.

<?php
$a
= 0;
function &
b()
{
    global
$a;
    return
$a;
}
$c = &b();
$c++;
echo
"
\$a:
$a
\$b:
$c
"
?>

It outputs:

$a: 1 $b: 1
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2
zayfod at yahoo dot com
10 years ago
There is a small exception to the note on this page of the documentation. You do not have to use & to indicate that reference binding should be done when you assign to a value passed by reference the result of a function which returns by reference.

Consider the following two exaples:

<?php

function    & func_b ()
{
   
$some_var = 2;
    return
$some_var;
}

function   
func_a (& $param)
{
   
# $param is 1 here
   
$param = & func_b();
   
# $param is 2 here
}

$var = 1;
func_a($var);
# $var is still 1 here!!!

?>

The second example works as intended:

<?php

function    & func_b ()
{
   
$some_var = 2;
    return
$some_var;
}

function   
func_a (& $param)
{
   
# $param is 1 here
   
$param = func_b();
   
# $param is 2 here
}

$var = 1;
func_a($var);
# $var is 2 here as intended

?>

(Experienced with PHP 4.3.0)
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0
civilization28 at gmail dot com
2 days ago
Zayfod's example above is useful, but I feel that it needs more explanation. The point that should be made is that a parameter passed in by reference can be changed to reference something else, resulting in later changes to the local variable not affecting the passed in variable:

<?php

function    & func_b ()
{
   
$some_var = 2;
    return
$some_var;
}

function   
func_a (& $param)
{
   
# $param is 1 here
   
$param = & func_b();    # Here the reference is changed and
                                           # the "&" in "func_a (& $param)"
                                           # is no longer in effect at all.
    # $param is 2 here
   
$param++;    # Has no effect on $var.
}

$var = 1;
func_a($var);
# $var is still 1 here!!!    Because the reference was changed.

?>
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1
rwruck
8 years ago
The note about using parentheses when returning references is only true if the variable you try to return does not already contain a reference.

<?php
// Will return a reference
function& getref1()
  {
 
$ref =& $GLOBALS['somevar'];
  return (
$ref);
  }

// Will return a value (and emit a notice)
function& getref2()
  {
 
$ref = 42;
  return (
$ref);
  }

// Will return a reference
function& getref3()
  {
  static
$ref = 42;
  return (
$ref);
  }
?>
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1
willem at designhulp dot nl
8 years ago
There is an important difference between php5 and php4 with references.

Lets say you have a class with a method called 'get_instance' to get a reference to an exsisting class and it's properties.

<?php
class mysql {
    function
get_instance(){
       
// check if object exsists
       
if(empty($_ENV['instances']['mysql'])){
           
// no object yet, create an object
           
$_ENV['instances']['mysql'] = new mysql;
        }
       
// return reference to object
       
$ref = &$_ENV['instances']['mysql'];
        return
$ref;
    }
}
?>

Now to get the exsisting object you can use
mysql::get_instance();

Though this works in php4 and in php5, but in php4 all data will be lost as if it is a new object while in php5 all properties in the object remain.
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0
benjamin dot delespierre at gmail dot com
3 years ago
Keep in mind that returning by reference doesn't work with __callStatic:

<?php
class Test {
  private static
$_inst;
  public static function &
__callStatic ($name, $args) {
    if (!isset(static::
$_inst)){
      echo
"create";
      static::
$_inst = (object)"test";
   }
   return static::
$_inst;
}

var_dump($a = &Test::abc()); // prints 'create'
$a = null;
var_dump(Test::abc()); // doesn't prints and the instance still exists in Test::$_inst
?>
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0
szymoncofalik at gmail dot com
3 years ago
Sometimes, you would like to return NULL with a function returning reference, to indicate the end of chain of elements. However this generates E_NOTICE. Here is little tip, how to prevent that:

<?php
class Foo {
   const
$nullGuard = NULL;
  
// ... some declarations and definitions
  
public function &next() {
     
// ...
     
if (!$end) return $bar;
      else return
$this->nullGuard;
   }
}
?>

by doing this you can do smth like this without notices:

<?php
$f
= new Foo();
// ...
while (($item = $f->next()) != NULL) {
// ...
}
?>

you may also use global variable:
global $nullGuard;
return $nullGuard;
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0
spidgorny at gmail dot com
4 years ago
When returning reference to the object member which is instantiated inside the function, the object is destructed upon returning (which is a problem). It's easier to see the code:

<?php

class MemcacheArray {
    public
$data;

    ...

   
/**
     * Super-clever one line cache reading AND WRITING!
     * Usage $data = &MemcacheArray::getData(__METHOD__);
     * Hopefully PHP will know that $this->data is still used
     * and will call destructor after data changes.
     * Ooops, it's not the case.   
     *
     * @return unknown
     */
   
function &getData($file, $expire = 3600) {
       
$o = new MemcacheArray($file, $expire);
        return
$o->data;
    }
?>

Here, destructor is called upon return() and the reference becomes a normal variable.

My solution is to store objects in a pool until the final exit(), but I don't like it. Any other ideas?

<?php
   
protected static $instances = array();

    function &
getData($file, $expire = 3600) {
       
$o = new MemcacheArray($file, $expire);
       
self::$instances[$file] = $o; // keep object from destructing too early
       
return $o->data;
    }
?>
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0
php at thunder-2000 dot com
7 years ago
If you want to get a part of an array to manipulate, you can use this function

function &getArrayField(&$array,$path) {
  if (!empty($path)) {
    if (empty($array[$path[0]])) return NULL;
    else return getArrayField($array[$path[0]], array_slice($path, 1));
  } else {
    return $array;
  }
}

Use it like this:

$partArray =& getArrayField($GLOBALS,array("config","modul1"));

You can manipulate $partArray and the changes are also made with $GLOBALS.
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-1
Anonymous
6 months ago
I learned a painful lesson working with a class method that would pass by reference.  

In short, if you have a method in a class that is initialed with ampersand during declaration, do not use another ampersand when using the method as in &$this->method();

For example
<?php
class A {
    public function &
hello(){
        static
$a='';
        return
$a;
    }
    public function
bello(){
       
$b=&$this->hello();  // incorrect. Do not use ampersand.
       
$b=$this->hello();  // $b is a reference  to the static variable.
}
?>
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0
contact at infopol dot fr
10 years ago
A note about returning references embedded in non-reference arrays :

<?
$foo
;

function
bar () {
    global
$foo;
   
$return = array();
   
$return[] =& $foo;
    return
$return;
}

$foo = 1;
$foobar = bar();
$foobar[0] = 2;
echo
$foo;
?>

results in "2" because the reference is copied (pretty neat).
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-1
pixel at minikomp dot com
6 years ago
<?php

   
function &func(){
        static
$static = 0;
       
$static++;
        return
$static;
    }

   
$var =& func();
    echo
$var; // 1
   
func();
   
func();
   
func();
   
func();
    echo
$var; // 5

?>
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-1
hawcue at yahoo dot com
10 years ago
Be careful when using tinary operation condition?value1:value2

See the following code:

$a=1;
function &foo()
{
  global $a;
  return isset($a)?$a:null;
}
$b=&foo();
echo $b;   // shows 1
$b=2;
echo $a;   // shows 1 (not 2! because $b got a copy of $a)

To let $b be a reference to $a, use "if..then.." in the function.
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