Why is there no facility to overload static properties in PHP?

Posted by Jon on Programmers See other posts from Programmers or by Jon
Published on 2012-03-20T10:33:45Z Indexed on 2012/03/20 17:38 UTC
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PHP allows you to overload method calls and property accesses by declaring magic methods in classes. This enables code such as:

class Foo {
    public function __get($name) { return 42; }

$foo = new Foo;
echo $foo->missingProperty; // prints "42"

Apart from overloading instance properties and methods, since PHP 5.3.0 we can also overload static methods calls by overriding the magic method __callStatic.

Something missing

What is conspicuously missing from the available functionality is the ability to overload static properties, for example:

echo Foo::$missingProperty; // fatal error: access to undeclared static property

This limitation is clearly documented:

Property overloading only works in object context. These magic methods will not be triggered in static context. Therefore these methods should not be declared static. As of PHP 5.3.0, a warning is issued if one of the magic overloading methods is declared static.

But why?

My questions are:

  1. Is there a technical reason that this functionality is not currently supported? Or perhaps a (shudder) political reason?
  2. Have there been any aborted attempts to add this functionality in the past?

Most importantly, the question is not "how can I have dynamic static properties in userland PHP?". That said, if you know of an especially cute implementation based on __callStatic that you want to share then by all means do so.

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