Object-Oriented PHP — An Easy Approach

For some PHP developers, the concept of object-orient programming, seems like a frightening concept. You might have browsed through repos on GitHub or read articles on how to implement a feature in a particular PHP project of yours, and the code is full of complicated syntax. I tell you, the concept of OOP is easy to grasp.

Object-Oriented programming (OOP), is a style of programming which allows us developers and programmers group related tasks or actions into classes to produce effective code. OOP follows the tenet “don’t repeat yourself (DRY), which are common in procedural programming.

Why Learn OOP?

Many frameworks built upon PHP are using the OOP paradigm and if you intend learning one of those frameworks (Laravel, Codeigniter, Symfony, etc), you’ll need a ground on OOP to start with.

Objects and Classes

In OOP there are two major concepts you’d see often (they really make up OOP), they are objects and classes. These terms sometimes appear to be interchangeable. That is not the case. A class for example, stands as a structure or blueprint. Relate that to a Building, say a Bank, a blueprint is presented which defines the properties of the buildings, and once accepted they proceed to erect the building. Classes form the structure of data needed to build objects. That same bank can use the same blueprint and erect same structure in a different location with slight differences (branch manager, number of staff, etc).

Creating Classes

The syntax to create a class in PHP is very straightforward, the class key word is used to declare a class, followed by the name and a pair of curly braces { ... }

<?php 
class OurClass 
{
// properties and methods
}

So we can write a basic User class as such

<?php 
class User
{
public $firstname;
public $lastname;
  public function __construct($firstname, $lastname)
{
$this->firstname = $firstname;
$this->lastname = $lastname;
}
  public function showInfo()
{
return $this->firstname . " " . $this->lastname;
}
}
// using the class
$administrator = new User("John", "Doe");
echo $administrator->showInfo(); // should output

The code above, creates a basic blueprint for a user, the __construct method, is a magic method. The method is called when ever the class is instantiated. The constructor accepts two parameters $firstname and $lastname and these are passed to the class properties $this->firsname and $this->lastname.

$this refers to the current class in scope.

Also in the User class, there’s a showInfo method, that dumps the data in a raw format.

To instantiate a class, you use the new keyword – $obj = new SomeClass;. When a class is instantiated, it creates a copy of the blueprint to that object. We can have various objects as instance of the same class, but their data will vary.

Add to the code

<?php 
use Codehakase\User;
$user_a = new User("Francis", "Sunday");
$user_a->showInfo();
echo "<br>";
$user_b = new User("Desiigner", "Doe");
$user_b->showInfo();

Load up the script in your favorite browser localhost/dir/oop.php, you should see an output similar to this:

/var/www/html/tuts/backend/PHP/oop.php:15:
object(User)[1]
public 'firstname' => string 'John' (length=4)
public 'lastname' => string 'Doe' (length=3)
/var/www/html/tuts/backend/PHP/oop.php:15:
object(User)[2]
public 'firstname' => string 'Francis' (length=7)
public 'lastname' => string 'Sunday' (length=6)
/var/www/html/tuts/backend/PHP/oop.php:15:
object(User)[3]
public 'firstname' => string 'Desiigner' (length=9)
public 'lastname' => string 'Doe' (length=3)

Awesome!! each instance of the User class is independent of the others, their data is not same.

Method and Property Visibility

Now the public keyword, is a visibility type. There are three of them public, protected, and private. Also in addition to a property or method visiblity, there’s static keyword, which allows them to accessed even without an instantiation of the class. Any property (variable) or method (class functions) with the public keyword, is accessible anywhere, within and outside the class.

Any property or method declared as protected can only be accessible within that class and its child classes.

A property or method declared as private, is only accessible from within the class it was defined in.

Comparing Procedural code and Object-Oriented code

OOP actually provides an easier approach to dealing with data. Because an object can store data internally, variables don’t need to be passed from function to function to work properly. Consider the following getter, setter procedural code

<?php
function sample() {
return [
//
]
}
// a basic setter function
function sampleSet($sample, $name, $value) {
$sample['vars'][$name] = $value; // creates a multidimensional array from function arguments
return $sample; //returns the loaded array
}
// a basic getter 
function sampleGet($sample, $name) {
if (isset($sample['vars'][$name])) {
$value = $sample['vars'][$name];
return [
$sample,
$value
]
}
  // using the functions 
$ex = sample();
$ex = sampleSet($ex, 'Helo', 'World'); // set an item
list($ex, $value) = sampleGet($ex, 'World'); // grab an item
}
?>

Now I’ll re-write that in an OOP style.

<?php
class Sample
{
private $vars;
  public function set($name, $value)
{
$this->var[$name] = $value;
}
  public function get($name)
{
return isset($this->vars[$name]) ? $this->vars[$name] : null;
}
}
// using 
$ex = new Sample;
$ex->set("Hello", "World");
$value = $example->get("World");
var_dump($ex);
?>

Running the OOP code, you get something similar to:

/var/www/html/tuts/backend/PHP/oop.php:49:
object(Sample)[4]
private 'vars' => null
public 'var' =>
array (size=1)
'Hello' => string 'World' (length=5)

Better Code Management

With OOP, you can manage your files within your application easily, by making use of autoloading.

A typical Procedural dependencies script may look as such:

<?php
require_once "php-includes/connect.php"
require_once "php-includes/do-login.php"
require_once "php-includes/reset-password.php"
require_once "php-includes/do-signup.php"
...

We can use class autoloading to include all the files we want

function __autoload($class) {
include_once 'inc/class' . $class . '.php';
}

Preferably, i use Composer and the PSR-4 autoloading standard, for everything autoloading. A basic Autoload with composer would look like this:

{
"autoload": {
"psr-4": {
"Codehakase\\": "app/"
}
}
}
<?php 
require_once "vendor/autoload.php" // composer's autoloader
use Codehakase\Models\User;
$user = new User;
$user->learnOOP(true);
...

Conclusion

It’s been awesome walking you through the concept of object-oriented programming in PHP. Learning or mastering OOP is a really great way to up your programming skills to the next level as a PHP Developer. We are still gonna continue learning other concepts of OOP, and build a real application with it. All this to come in subsequent articles after this.

Got any questions or suggestions? Drop them in the comment box below.


PHDevConnect is a free, open community of Port Harcourt based Developers, UI / UX Designers, Project managers, Architects etc who can create their own digital team or join other teams for paid/open sourced projects.
One clap, two clap, three clap, forty?

By clapping more or less, you can signal to us which stories really stand out.