Method redefinition (monkey-patching) functionality for PHP.


Patchwork implements the redefinition (monkey-patching) of functions and methods in PHP. This includes both user-defined and internal callables, which can be functions, class methods, or instance methods. In addition, many function-like constructs, such as exit or include, are supported in an analogous way.

Internally, Patchwork uses a stream wrapper on file://. In the case of user-defined functions and methods, it is used to inject a simple interceptor snippet to the beginning of every such callable. For the remaining types of callables, various other strategies are applied.

Example: a DIY profiler

use function Patchwork\{redefine, relay, getMethod};

$profiling = fopen('profiling.csv', 'w');

redefine('App\*', function(...$args) use ($profiling) {
    $begin = microtime(true);
    relay(); # calls the original definition
    $end = microtime(true);
    fputcsv($profiling, [getMethod(), $end - $begin]);


  • Method redefinition is the internally preferred metaphor for Patchwork's behavior.
  • restoreAll() and restore($handle) end the lifetime of, respectively, all redefinitions, or only one of them, where $handle = redefine(...).
  • Closure $this is automatically re-bound to the enclosing class of the method being redefined.
  • The behavior of __CLASS__, static::class etc. inside redefinitions disregards the metaphor. getClass(), getCalledClass(), getMethod() and getFunction() from the Patchwork namespace should be used instead.

Testing-related uses

Patchwork can be used to stub static methods, which, however, is a controversial practice.

It should be applied prudently, that is, only after making oneself familiar with its pitfalls and temptations in other programming languages. For instance, in Javascript, Ruby, Python and some others, the native support for monkey-patching has made its testing-related uses more commonplace than in PHP.

Tests that use monkey-patching are often no longer unit tests, because they become sensitive to details of implementation, not only those of interface: for example, such a test might no longer pass after switching from time() to DateTime.

That being said, they still have their place where the only economically viable alternative is having no tests at all.

Other use cases

Patchwork is not suggested for AOP and other kinds of production usage. Its impact on the application's performance is highly likely to be prohibitively large. Additionally, while no particular Patchwork-related security risks are either known or anticipated, please keep in mind that Patchwork was never developed with production environments in mind.