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Aju Chacko
Aju Chacko

Posted on

php RFC:__toArray()

This is a new RFC under discussion, proposed for php version 8. It is to add a new magic method called __toArray() to allow a class to control how it is represented when converted to an array.

class Person
{
    protected $name;
    protected $email;

    public $another = 'value';

    public function __construct(string $name, string $email)
    {
        $this->name = $name;
        $this->email  = $email;
    }

    public function __toArray()
    {
        return [
            'name' => $this->name,
            'email'  => $this->email,
        ];
    }
}

$person = new Person('John Doe', 'jon@example.com');

$personArray = (array) $person; // casting triggers __toArray()
# Result
/*
 [
   "name" => "John Doe",
   "email" => "jon@example.com"
 ]
*/

Calling any objects implemented __toArray() magic method on any array context including type hinting(only when using weak typing) and return types can get array version of the object.

Usage

function foo(array $person) {
    print_r($person);
}

// Output
/*
[
  "name" => "John Doe"
  "email"=> "jon@example.com"
}
*/
function bar(Person $person): array {
    return $person;
}

print_r(bar($person));

// Output
/*
[
  "name" =>"John Doe"
  "email"=>"jon@example.com"
]
*/
declare(strict_types=1);

function bar(Person $person): array {
    return (array) $person;
}

/*
[
  "name" =>"John Doe"
  "email"=>"jon@example.com"
]
*/
 // Note: without the array type casting before return would trigger an error here.

This is similar to PHP's current implementation of __toString(),
a copy of the given object's value as an array
is made upon conversion.

However this proposal does not allow accessing and setting values as you would in a normal array, that functionality remains with classes implementing the ArrayAccess interface.

For more information take a look at the RFC

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