Data structure that allows the definition of arbitrary methods and properties at runtime

0.0.2 2013-06-30 04:18 UTC


An OpenStruct is a data structure that allows the definition of arbitrary methods and properties at runtime.


If you're using composer simply add the einstein/open-struct dependency to your composer.json file.

Otherwise you can manually install it by cloning the repository somewhere in your php include_path.

git clone git@github.com:einstein/open_struct.git`
require 'open_struct/open_struct.php';


$person = new OpenStruct;
$person->name = 'John';
$person->age = 35;

echo $person->name;     # => 'John'
echo $person->age;      # => 35
echo $person->address;  # => null

OpenStruct uses an array internally to store properties and can even be initialized with one:

$person = new OpenStruct(array('name' => 'John', 'age' => 35));

echo $person->name;     # => 'John'
echo $person->age;      # => 35
echo $person->address;  # => null

print_r($person->properties);  # => array('name' => 'John', 'age' => 35)

OpenStruct objects can extend classes allowing new methods to be defined at runtime ($this even resolves correctly):

class AssetHelpers {
    function asset_path($path) {
        return '/assets/'.$path;

$helpers = new OpenStruct;

echo $helpers->asset_path('cat.png');  # => '/assets/cat.png'
echo $helpers->asset_path('dog.png');  # => '/assets/dog.png'

Methods can even be overridden (notice the call to $this->super() which references the example above):

class S3AssetHelpers {
    function asset_path($path) {
        return 'http://'.$this->s3_bucket.'.s3.amazonaws.com'.$this->super($path);

$helpers->s3_bucket = 'example';

echo $helpers->asset_path('cat.png');  # => 'http://example.s3.amazonaws.com/assets/cat.png'
echo $helpers->asset_path('dog.png');  # => 'http://example.s3.amazonaws.com/assets/dog.png'

print_r($helpers->ancestors);  # => array('S3AssetHelpers', 'AssetHelpers')

Note that super can only be called from within a method:

$struct = new OpenStruct;
$struct->super();  # => BadMethodCallException - Undefined method OpenStruct::super()

A wildcard/catch-all method method_missing can be defined as well (equivalent of PHP's __call)

$person = new OpenStruct(array('name' => 'Bob'));

$person->get_name();  # => BadMethodCallException - Undefined method OpenStruct::get_name()

class Getters {
    function method_missing($method, $arguments) {
        if (preg_match('/^get_(.+)$/', $method, $matches) && isset($this->{$matches[1]})) {
            return $this->{$matches[1]};
        } else {
            return $this->super($method, $arguments);


$person->get_name();   # => 'Bob'
$person->get_age();    # => BadMethodCallException - Undefined method OpenStruct::get_age()
$person->undefined();  # => BadMethodCallException - Undefined method OpenStruct::undefined()

If you extend a class that has a static method called extended, it will be called and passed the current OpenStruct instance and any additional parameters passed to extend as arguments.

You can use it like a constructor/initializer:

class S3AssetHelpers {
    static function extended($struct, $bucket = 'example') {
        $struct->s3_bucket = $bucket;

    function asset_path($path) {
        return 'http://'.$this->s3_bucket.'.s3.amazonaws.com/'.$path;

$helpers = new OpenStruct;
$helpers->extend('S3AssetHelpers', 'test');

echo $helpers->asset_path('cat.png');  # => 'http://test.s3.amazonaws.com/cat.png'
echo $helpers->asset_path('dog.png');  # => 'http://test.s3.amazonaws.com/dog.png'

The extend method also accepts an array of classes to extend as the first argument. These method calls all do the same thing:

$struct = new OpenStruct;

$struct->extend(array('AssetHelpers', 'S3AssetHelpers'));



PHP has many reserved keywords that throw fatal errors when you try to define them as methods e.g. function include() { }. OpenStruct allows you to define methods with keyword names by prefixing them with __ e.g. function __include() { }. This allows you to call $struct->include() without throwing fatal errors.

OpenStruct also includes an eval method which accepts a $file and optional array of $locals. It will extract any locals and include $file within the context of the OpenStruct instance. It also accepts an optional third argument $extract_properties which will also extract references to all of the OpenStruct instance's properties before including $file. $extract_properties defaults to false.


OpenStruct tests require jaz303/ztest

Simply download it to open_struct/test/ztest (or anywhere else in your PHP include_path), then run test/run