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Late Static Bindings

As of PHP 5.3.0, PHP implements a feature called late static bindings which can be used to reference the called class in a context of static inheritance.

More precisely, late static bindings work by storing the class named in the last "non-forwarding call". In case of static method calls, this is the class explicitly named (usually the one on the left of the :: operator); in case of non static method calls, it is the class of the object. A "forwarding call" is a static one that is introduced by self::, parent::, static::, or, if going up in the class hierarchy, forward_static_call(). The function get_called_class() can be used to retrieve a string with the name of the called class and static:: introduces its scope.

This feature was named "late static bindings" with an internal perspective in mind. "Late binding" comes from the fact that static:: will not be resolved using the class where the method is defined but it will rather be computed using runtime information. It was also called a "static binding" as it can be used for (but is not limited to) static method calls.

Limitations of self::

Static references to the current class like self:: or __CLASS__ are resolved using the class in which the function belongs, as in where it was defined:

Example #1 self:: usage

<?php
class {
    public static function 
who() {
        echo 
__CLASS__;
    }
    public static function 
test() {
        
self::who();
    }
}

class 
extends {
    public static function 
who() {
        echo 
__CLASS__;
    }
}

B::test();
?>

The above example will output:

A

Late Static Bindings' usage

Late static bindings tries to solve that limitation by introducing a keyword that references the class that was initially called at runtime. Basically, a keyword that would allow you to reference B from test() in the previous example. It was decided not to introduce a new keyword but rather use static that was already reserved.

Example #2 static:: simple usage

<?php
class {
    public static function 
who() {
        echo 
__CLASS__;
    }
    public static function 
test() {
        static::
who(); // Here comes Late Static Bindings
    
}
}

class 
extends {
    public static function 
who() {
        echo 
__CLASS__;
    }
}

B::test();
?>

The above example will output:

B

Note:

In non-static contexts, the called class will be the class of the object instance. Since $this-> will try to call private methods from the same scope, using static:: may give different results. Another difference is that static:: can only refer to static properties.

Example #3 static:: usage in a non-static context

<?php
class {
    private function 
foo() {
        echo 
"success!\n";
    }
    public function 
test() {
        
$this->foo();
        static::
foo();
    }
}

class 
extends {
   
/* foo() will be copied to B, hence its scope will still be A and
    * the call be successful */
}

class 
extends {
    private function 
foo() {
        
/* original method is replaced; the scope of the new one is C */
    
}
}

$b = new B();
$b->test();
$c = new C();
$c->test();   //fails
?>

The above example will output:

success!
success!
success!


Fatal error:  Call to private method C::foo() from context 'A' in /tmp/test.php on line 9

Note:

Late static bindings' resolution will stop at a fully resolved static call with no fallback. On the other hand, static calls using keywords like parent:: or self:: will forward the calling information.

Example #4 Forwarding and non-forwarding calls

<?php
class {
    public static function 
foo() {
        static::
who();
    }

    public static function 
who() {
        echo 
__CLASS__."\n";
    }
}

class 
extends {
    public static function 
test() {
        
A::foo();
        
parent::foo();
        
self::foo();
    }

    public static function 
who() {
        echo 
__CLASS__."\n";
    }
}
class 
extends {
    public static function 
who() {
        echo 
__CLASS__."\n";
    }
}

C::test();
?>

The above example will output:

A
C
C

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