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The need to use namespaces in PHP 5 - PHP

Namespaces were created as part of PHP 5.3 to solve certain conflicts that can arise when two different classes are given the same name. This situation comes up more commonly than you might think. This four-part series introduces you to using namespaces to solve these and similar issues. It includes copious code examples to enhance your understanding.

  1. Using Namespaces in PHP 5
  2. The need to use namespaces in PHP 5
  3. Tying a PHP class to a namespace with the namespace keyword
  4. Working with a PHP class tied to a specific namespace
By: Alejandro Gervasio
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November 12, 2008

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A good way to start explaining how to utilize namespaces with PHP 5 consists of recreating a simple - yet potentially real -- situation, where the name of a given class can be shared by another. In this case, suppose that there's a class called "User" which stores common user-supplied data, such as first and last names, as well as the corresponding email addresses.

The prototypical signature of a class like the one described above would look like this:

// define 'User' class

class User{

private $firstName;

private $lastName;

private $email;

public function __construct($firstName,$lastName,$email){


throw new Exception('Invalid First Name parameter!');



throw new Exception('Invalid Last Name parameter!');



throw new Exception('Invalid Email parameter!');






// get user's first name

public function getFirstName(){

return $this->firstName;


// get user's last name

public function getLastName(){

return $this->lastName;


// get user's email

public function getEmail(){

return $this->email;



Undoubtedly, the signature of the above "User" class is quite easy to grasp, since this class simply stores the full name and the email address of a fictional user on a few properties. In addition, the class implements some accessors, used directly for retrieving the values of these properties when required.

Now that you've seen how this sample class has been defined, here's an example that demonstrates how to use in a concrete case. Take a look at the following code sample, please:

// example on using the previous 'User' class without namespaces


// create new instance of 'User' class

$user=new User('Alejandro','Gervasio','alejandro@domain.com');

// display user data

echo 'First Name: '.$user->getFirstName().'<br />';

echo 'Last Name: '.$user->getLastName().'<br />';

echo 'Email: '.$user->getEmail().'<br />';


/* displays the following output

First Name: Alejandro

Last Name: Gervasio

Email: alejandro@domain.com



catch(Exception $e){

echo $e->getMessage();



Actually, I don't want to be accused of being too selfish, but as you can see in the previous example, I utilized the "User" class to save my first and last names, as well as my email address as plain class properties. Once that task has been accomplished, these values are echoed to the browser via the respective accessors. That was really simple to code and understand, wasn't it?

So far, everything looks pretty good here, since this basic class does a decent job, particularly when it comes to handling user-supplied data. However, this seemingly peaceful scenario can turn quickly into a raging storm if I decide to work in conjunction with a third-party content management system, which also includes a class named "User."

How can these classes be used within the same PHP application, without having to waste time renaming one of them?

Well, the answer to that question is simply by using namespaces! With namespaces, it would be possible to specify that one "User" class belongs to a concrete namespace, called for example "General," while the second one would belong to a different namespace, named "CMS." Are you starting to see the benefits of using namespaces? I bet you are!

However, if you're anything like me, then you'll want to see how namespaces can be used with some functional PHP code. Therefore, bearing in mind this possibility, in the section to come, I'm going to show you how to utilize the previous "User" class so it can be tied to a predefined namespace.

To learn the full details of how this process will be accomplished, please click on the link that appears below and keep reading.

>>> More PHP Articles          >>> More By Alejandro Gervasio

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