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Using namespaces: Aliasing/Importing

(PHP 5 >= 5.3.0)

The ability to refer to an external fully qualified name with an alias, or importing, is an important feature of namespaces. This is similar to the ability of unix-based filesystems to create symbolic links to a file or to a directory.

PHP namespaces support three kinds of aliasing or importing: aliasing a class name, aliasing an interface name, and aliasing a namespace name. Note that importing a function or constant is not supported.

In PHP, aliasing is accomplished with the use operator. Here is an example showing all 3 kinds of importing:

Example #1 importing/aliasing with the use operator

<?php
namespace foo;
use 
My\Full\Classname as Another;

// this is the same as use My\Full\NSname as NSname
use My\Full\NSname;

// importing a global class
use ArrayObject;

$obj = new namespace\Another// instantiates object of class foo\Another
$obj = new Another// instantiates object of class My\Full\Classname
NSname\subns\func(); // calls function My\Full\NSname\subns\func
$a = new ArrayObject(array(1)); // instantiates object of class ArrayObject
// without the "use ArrayObject" we would instantiate an object of class foo\ArrayObject
?>
Note that for namespaced names (fully qualified namespace names containing namespace separator, such as Foo\Bar as opposed to global names that do not, such as FooBar), the leading backslash is unnecessary and not recommended, as import names must be fully qualified, and are not processed relative to the current namespace.

PHP additionally supports a convenience shortcut to place multiple use statements on the same line

Example #2 importing/aliasing with the use operator, multiple use statements combined

<?php
use My\Full\Classname as AnotherMy\Full\NSname;

$obj = new Another// instantiates object of class My\Full\Classname
NSname\subns\func(); // calls function My\Full\NSname\subns\func
?>

Importing is performed at compile-time, and so does not affect dynamic class, function or constant names.

Example #3 Importing and dynamic names

<?php
use My\Full\Classname as AnotherMy\Full\NSname;

$obj = new Another// instantiates object of class My\Full\Classname
$a 'Another';
$obj = new $a;      // instantiates object of class Another
?>

In addition, importing only affects unqualified and qualified names. Fully qualified names are absolute, and unaffected by imports.

Example #4 Importing and fully qualified names

<?php
use My\Full\Classname as AnotherMy\Full\NSname;

$obj = new Another// instantiates object of class My\Full\Classname
$obj = new \Another// instantiates object of class Another
$obj = new Another\thing// instantiates object of class My\Full\Classname\thing
$obj = new \Another\thing// instantiates object of class Another\thing
?>

Scoping rules for importing

The use keyword must be declared in the outermost scope of a file (the global scope) or inside namespace declarations. This is because the importing is done at compile time and not runtime, so it cannot be block scoped. The following example will show an illegal use of the use keyword:

Example #5 Illegal importing rule

<?php
namespace Languages;

class 
Greenlandic
{
    use 
Languages\Danish;

    ...
}
?>

Note:

Importing rules are per file basis, meaning included files will NOT inherit the parent file's importing rules.

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