Syntactic Sugar for named and indexed parameters call

1.1.0 2018-03-07 18:01 UTC

This package is auto-updated.

Last update: 2021-09-29 01:57:45 UTC


PHP lacks support for named parameters call. Syntactic brings named and indexed parameter call support for user defined functions and methods of user defined classes (including class constructor).

Syntactic allows you to specify parameters in arbitrary order by name or position/index when calling functions and methods without worrying about default values for their parameters (skipping the ones you don't want to specify). This would allow to define functions and methods which could accept wider ranges of parameters without resorting to using arrays and complicated checks. The parameters/arguments of your functions and methods remain documentable using standard PHPDoc notation.


The recommended way to install Syntactic is through Composer

$ composer require awobaz/syntactic

Syntactic requires PHP 5.6 or later.


Syntactic provides helpers/wrappers functions and a trait to make your functions and methods syntacticable. After installation the syntactic and s helpers are available (s is an alias for syntactic). Those who prefer trait may use the Syntacticable trait.

The helpers create syntacticable objects. You can then use the methods in and inRef to pass (input) parameters by value or reference. The method out is used to execute the function/method. The methods in, inRef, out are chainable but the method out should always be the last call in the chain (see examples below).

The methods with and withRef are aliases for in and inRef respectively.

Usage with user defined functions

Consider the following function which computes the product of its 4 arguments (a, b, c and d):

function foo($a = 1, $b = 2, $c = 3, $d = 4){
    return $a * $b * $c * $d;

With Syntactic, you may call this function passing and skipping arguments using a chainable syntax:

//Call with argument b only
echo s('foo')->in('b', 5)->out(); //Outputs 60

//Call with argument a and argument at index/position 1 (b),
echo s('foo')->in('a', 7)->in(1, 5)->out(); //Outputs 420

//Call with argument c only through dynamic method
echo s('foo')->c(9)->out(); //Outputs 72


Let's explain the construction s('foo')->in('a', 7)->in(1, 5)->out();

  1. We use the helper s, s('foo'), to create a syntacticable object from the function foo. The s helper accepts the name of a function, an object or the name of a class as argument. Here we pass the name of the function foo as a string.

  2. We call the method in to specify the arguments we want without worrying about the order and default value of the other arguments. (use inRef or withRef to pass argument by reference). Note that we can refer to arguments by their name or position (as defined in the function signature). Here we pass the parameter $a using its name, and the parameter $b using its position. Position/index starts at 0 (zero).

  3. We finally call the method out to execute the function foo.

For convenience, parameters names are also exposed as methods. The construction:

s('foo')->in('a', 7)->in(1, 5)->out();

is equivalent to:


Usage with object/class methods.

The syntax for object/class methods is a bit different. You must refer to the methods as object/class property before you call in (or inRef) to pass parameters.

class MyClass {
	public function foo($a = 1, $b = 2, $c = 3, $d = 4){
		return $a * $b * $c * $d;

	public static function bar($a = 1, $b = 2, $c = 3, $d = 4){
		return $a * $b * $c * $d;

$myObj = new MyClass();

//Call the instance method foo
echo s($myObj)->foo->in('c', 8)->in('a', 1)->out(); //Outputs 64
echo s($myObj)->foo->in(0, 1)->in(2, 8)->out(); //Outputs 64
echo s($myObj)->foo->a(1)->c(8)->out(); //Outputs 64

//Call the static method bar
echo s('MyClass')->bar->in('b', 5)->out(); //Outputs 60
echo s('MyClass')->bar->in(1, 5)->out(); //Outputs 60
echo s('MyClass')->bar->b(5)->out(); //Outputs 60

When calling static methods, it is recommended to use the fully qualified name of the class if you use namespaces.

Using with class constructor

Consider the following class:

class Bar
    protected $a;
    protected $b;
    protected $c;
    protected $d;

    public function __construct($a = 1, $b = 2, $c = 3, $d = 4)
        $this->a = $a;
        $this->b = $b;
        $this->c = $c;
        $this->d = $d;

    public function getProduct(){
        return $this->a * $this->b * $this->c * $this->d;

We can instantiate new object of this class using the newInstance method and only specify the arguments we want for the constructor in an arbitrary order:

//Creates and instance of Bar
$obj = s('Bar')->newInstance()->b(6)->d(8)->out();
//Call a method on the instance
echo $obj->getProduct(); //Outputs 144

Calling methods directly on syntacticable objects

You may call a method directly on a syntacticable object by passing an array of named or indexed parameters.

Consider the following class:

class FooBar
    public function foo($a, $b = 2, $c = 3, $d = 4)
		return $a * $b * $c * $d;

	public static function bar($a, $b = 2, $c = 3, $d = 4)
		return $a * $b * $c * $d;

	public static function hello(){
		echo "Hello World!";

We can call the method foo on in instance:

$obj = new FooBar();
echo s($obj)->foo(array('a'=>5, 'c'=>4)); //Outputs 160

We can call the static method bar:

echo s('FooBar')->bar(array('a'=>5, 'c'=>4)); //Outputs 160

Methods without arguments should be called without arguments:

echo s('FooBar')->hello(); //Prints 'Hello World!"

Using the Syntacticable trait

When using the Syntacticable trait, all the instance methods of the class become syntacticable. This is useful when you don't want to use the helpers. The trait doesn't support static methods.

Keep in mind that the Syntacticable trait overrides the PHP magic method __get. You can't use the trait if a class overrides this method.

Example using the Syntacticable trait

class MyClass {
	use Awobaz\Syntactic\Syntacticable;

	public function foo($a = 1, $b = 2, $c = 3, $d = 4){
		return $a * $b * $c * $d;

	public static function bar($a = 1, $b = 2, $c = 3, $d = 4){
		return $a * $b * $c * $d;

Thanks to the Syntacticable trait, the instance methods are exposed as properties on the class instances, then you can call them in a syntacticable way.

$myObj = new MyClass();

//Call the instance method foo
echo $myObj->foo->in('c', 8)->in('a', 1)->out(); //Outputs 64
echo $myObj->foo->in(0, 1)->in(2, 8)->out(); //Outputs 64
echo $myObj->foo->a(1)->c(8)->out(); //Outputs 64


You can use Syntactic with internal (built-in) PHP functions, but you can't skip arguments if they are not at the end of the arguments list of the functions. Otherwise, things will not work as expected.

The following examples will work because the optional arguments for the built-in functions sort _and preg__replace are at the end of the arguments list.

$t = array(1, 6, 9, 3, 8, 2);
s('sort')->inRef(0, $t)->out();
$string = 'April 15, 2003';
$pattern = '/(\w+) (\d+), (\d+)/i';
$replacement = '${1}1,$3';
$count = 0;
echo s('preg_replace')->in(0, $pattern)->in(1, $replacement)->in(2, $string)->out();

while the example below won't work.

$string = 'April 15, 2003';
$pattern = '/(\w+) (\d+), (\d+)/i';
$replacement = '${1}1,$3';
$count = 0;
echo s('preg_replace')->in(0, $pattern)->in(1, $replacement)->in(2, $string)->inRef(4, $count)->out();

For this to work, we need to specify the value for the optional parameter limit (at index 3):

echo s('preg_replace')->in(0, $pattern)->in(1, $replacement)->in(2, $string)->in(3, 1)->inRef(4, $count)->out();

Due to PHP's Reflection implementation details, it is not possible to get the default value of built-in functions or methods of built-in classes. We strongly recommend to use Syntactic only with user defined functions and methods of user defined classes.


Thank you for considering contributing to Syntactic! Pull requests are welcomed!

The following steps are recommended to contribute:

  • Fork this repository.
  • Add new features, fix bug or bring improvements.
  • Run tests
  • Make a pull request.

Contributor Code of Conduct

As contributors and maintainers of this project, we pledge to respect all people who contribute through reporting issues, posting feature requests, updating documentation, submitting pull requests or patches, and other activities.

We are committed to making participation in this project a harassment-free experience for everyone, regardless of level of experience, gender, gender identity and expression, sexual orientation, disability, personal appearance, body size, race, age, or religion.

Examples of unacceptable behavior by participants include the use of sexual language or imagery, derogatory comments or personal attacks, trolling, public or private harassment, insults, or other unprofessional conduct.

Project maintainers have the right and responsibility to remove, edit, or reject comments, commits, code, wiki edits, issues, and other contributions that are not aligned to this Code of Conduct. Project maintainers who do not follow the Code of Conduct may be removed from the project team.

Instances of abusive, harassing, or otherwise unacceptable behavior may be reported by opening an issue or contacting one or more of the project maintainers.

This Code of Conduct is adapted from the Contributor Covenant, version 1.0.0, available at

Unit Tests

In order to run the test suite, install the development dependencies:

$ composer install --dev

Then, run the following command:

$ vendor/bin/phpunit


Sponsored by

  • Awobaz - Web/Mobile agency based in Montreal, Canada


Syntactic is open-sourced software licensed under the MIT license.