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Spawn is a simple and lightweight implementation of an IoC application container and fully compatible with container-interop.

1.0.0-rc1 2016-04-17 01:48 UTC

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Last update: 2021-10-25 12:23:06 UTC


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Spawn is a simple and lightweight implementation of an IoC application container and fully compatible with the container-interop standard.


You can install this package through Composer:

composer require frogsystem/spawn

The packages follows the Semantic Versioning specification, and there will be full backward compatibility between minor versions.


Boot your container by creating a new instance:

$app = new Container();

Spawn will take care of itself; you will always get the same instance as long as you use Dependency Injection and the provided factory methods.

Get an entry

Retrieve an entry from the container with the standardized get method; use array access for your convenience:

print $app->get('MyEntry'); // will print whatever value 'MyEntry' has
print $app['MyEntry']; // will do the same

However, if the entry is set to a callable, the callable will be invoked and its result returned instead. You will find use of this behavior to achieve different goals.

$app->set('MyEntry', function() {
    return 'Called!'
print $app->get('MyEntry'); // will print 'Called!'

Set an entry

To register an entry with the container, use the provided set method or array access:

$app->set('MyEntry', $value);
$app['MyEntry'] = $value;

Factory (Implementation)

By design, the purpose of the container is to provide you with implementations for abstracts. To do so, you'll have to bind the abstract to a factory closure:

$app['ACME\MyContract'] = function() use ($app) {
    return $app->make('MyImplementation');

There is a shorthand for this and other common use cases:

$app['ACME\MyContract'] = $app->factory('MyImplementation'); // shorthand for the statement above (roughly)

Assignment (Instance)

Binding a specific instance to an abstract can be done by normal assignment:

$app['ACME\MyContract'] = new MyImplementation();

Once (deferred execution)

If you want to defer execution of the callable to the time when it is actually requested (e.g. because its expensive but not always used), use once:

$app['ACME\MyContract'] = $app->once(function() {
  return very_expensive_call(); // will be executed once when 'ACME\MyContract' is requested; returns its result afterwards

It will store the result and any further request on ACME\MyContract will return the stored result instead of invoking the callable.

One (Singleton)

This allows us to register implementations that behave more or less like singletons:

$app['ACME\MyContract'] = $app->one('ACME\MyClass'); // instantiated on first request; returns the same object every time

Protect a Callable

In case you want to store a closure or an other callable in the container, you can protect them from being invoked while retrieving:

$app['MyCallable'] = $app->protect(function() {
    print 'Called!';
$printer = $app->get('MyCallable'); // will do nothing
$printer(); // will print 'Called!'


Putting all this together, you might easily create a so called FactoryFactory - a factory that provides you with a specific factory whenever you need one:

$app['UserFactory'] = $this->protect(function($username) use ($app) {
    $user = $app->one('User')->getByName($username);
    return $user;
$userFactory = $app->get('UserFactory');
print $userFactory('Alice')->getName(); // will print 'Alice'
print $userFactory('Bob')->getName(); // will print 'Bob'

Check for an entry

Use the has method to check whether an entry exists or not:

$app->has('MyEntry'); // true or false


You must only use the container to define your abstracts. They are meant to be shared with other containers and an implementation may be replaced by a different one during runtime. However, you will have cases where your code depends on a specific instance. Those internals are hold separately from the rest of the container and therefore have to be set as properties:

$app->config = $app->make('MyConfig');

Using the magic setter will provide you with the same API as set out above. You may also define an internal explicit as class property, but a callable will not be invoked on retrieval if set this way.

Get your internals through properties as well:

print $app->version;

To set a value for both, an internal and a normal container entry, simply chain the assignments:

$app->config = $app['ConfigContract'] = $this->factory('MyConfig');

Dependency Injection

Spawn provides you with two methods for using Dependency Injection and the Inversion of Control pattern. Use make to create new instances of abstracts; and use invoke to execute callables with filled-in dependencies. Both methods will using Dependency Injection to resolve their arguments. This means, if the invoked callable or class constructor has any parameters, those methods will use the container to find a suitable implementation and inject it in the argument list.

Additional any value retrieved from the container via get or ArrayAccess which is a callable, will be invoked using the very same invoke method. Thus they will also have their dependencies injected.

Use make to create an object from a concrete class:

class MyClass {
    __construct(OtherClass $other);

When calling invoke with a callable as argument, Spawn will try resolve any arguments:

class MyObject {
    function print() {
        print 'Found!!'
$callable = function(MyObject $object) {
$app->invoke($callable); // will print 'Found!'

Additional arguments

You may also pass additional arguments in an array to these methods. It allows you to override dependency lookup on a per case basis. During the argument selection, entries will first be looked up in the array, matching the parameters class and name against array keys.

class MyClass {
    __construct(OtherClass $other, $id);
    function do($name) {
        print $name;
$object = $app->make('MyClass', ['id' => 42]); // $id will be 42, $other will be resolved through the container
$app->invoke([$object, 'do'], ['name' => 'Spawn']); // will print 'Spawn'

As mentioned above, get will also invoke a callable before returning it. Thus you may pass additional arguments to this method, as well.

Delegate lookup

Delegate lookup is a featured introduced by the Container Interoperability standard. A request to the container is performed within the container. But if the fetched entry has dependencies, instead of performing the dependency lookup in the container, the lookup is performed on the delegate container. In other words: Whenever dependency injection happens, dependencies will be resolved through the delegate container.

Dependency lookup in Spawn is always delegated. By default the container delegates the lookup to itself. Set a different delegate container via constructor argument or use the use the delegate method:

$app = new Container($delegateContainer);

Delegate lookup enables sharing of entries across containers and allows to build up a delegation queue. See Design principles to learn how to utilize this feature properly.

Design principles

  • Implements container-interop
  • Implements delegate lookup
  • Separates storage of 'public' abstracts and internals
  • Adding entries always via the same single method; all other features are implemented using closures
  • Enforce users to use the delegate lookup feature and the delegation queue