A simple-to-use PHP class that provides the ability to emulate and create type-safe enumerations.

v1.0.0 2013-09-15 14:55 UTC

This package is not auto-updated.

Last update: 2024-05-21 05:40:47 UTC


Latest stable version Build Status Coverage Status

This is a simple-to-use PHP class that provides the ability to emulate and create type-safe enumerations.

Table of Contents



In computer programming, an enumerated type (also called enumeration or enum) is a data type consisting of a set of named values called elements, members or enumerators of the type. — Wikipedia


SplEnum is not integrated to PHP, you have to install it separately: $ sudo pecl install SPL_Types.

In addition, it's not a panacea:

class Month extends SplEnum {
    const JANUARY  = 1;
    const FEBRUARY = 2;

class Fruit extends SplEnum {
    const APPLE  = 1;
    const ORANGE = 2;

// you must create new instance before each use:
$jan   = new Month(Month::JANUARY);
$jan2  = new Month(Month::JANUARY);
$apple = new Fruit(Fruit::APPLE);

var_dump($jan === $jan2);          // false
var_dump($jan === Month::JANUARY); // false
var_dump($jan ==  Fruit::APPLE);   // true


Yet another implementation…

Several interesting type-safe enumeration's implementations already exists:

But this one provides all the following advantages:

  • Type-safe enumeration.
  • Whatever the definition of one or more enumerations:
    • each element object is unique under comparison operator (==)
    • and it is not possible to have 2 distincts instances of the same element, under the identity operator (===).
  • Supports both static method calls (via __callStatic() magic method) and property calls.
  • Property calls approach has a low overhead.
  • Supports namespaces to avoid naming collisions.
  • Supports autocompletion within an Integrated Development Environment (IDE).
  • No need to write any method. Just a simple class with elements as properties.
  • Elements cannot be cloned via the magic __clone() method.


  • Elements are not immutable (but allow property calls approach with a low overhead)
  • In case of exclusive property calls approach, a call to MyEnum::buildInstances(); is needed first.


PHP >= 5.3.3


An enumeration

A simple example of enumeration:


use GAubry\Enum\EnumAbstract;

class ColorEnum extends EnumAbstract {
    public static $RED;
    public static $GREEN;
    public static $BLUE;

Magic static calls

With the ColorEnum enumeration just defined:

$color = ColorEnum::RED();
var_dump((string)$color); // string(3) "RED"
function f (ColorEnum $color) {
    switch($color) {
        case ColorEnum::RED():


Property calls approach

This approach is much faster than that using magic static calls (see benchmark below).

With the same ColorEnum enumeration as above:

// One call per enumeration is necessary and sufficient, 
// typically at the top of the program, during instantiation phase:

$color = ColorEnum::$RED;
var_dump((string)$color); // string(3) "RED"
var_dump(ColorEnum::$RED === ColorEnum::RED()); // true
function f (ColorEnum $color) {
    switch($color) {
        case ColorEnum::$RED:


Other functionalities

Cast to string

By default, __toString() method returns the name of the property. But it is possible to choose the string returned:

class ColorEnum extends EnumAbstract {
    public static $RED = 'red color';

All elements

All values of enumeration can be retrieve by static values() method:

array(3) {
    'RED' => class ColorEnum#13 (2) {
        private $iValue => int(0)
        private $sName  => string(9) "color red"
    'GREEN' => class ColorEnum#14 (2) {
        private $iValue => int(1)
        private $sName  => string(5) "GREEN"

Keys can be easily listed by static keys() method:

array(3) {
  [0] => string(3) "RED"
  [1] => string(5) "GREEN"
  [2] => string(4) "BLUE"


All files are provided in /tests directory:

$ tests/benchmark.sh 1000 100


Averages after 1000 iterations:
    1× DayEnum::buildInstances():          0.436 ms
  100× DayEnum with magic static calls:    3.469 ms
  100× DayEnum with property calls:        0.407 ms
  100× with classic constants:             0.360 ms

So after the one necessary call to buildInstances(), property calls approach has a low overhead compared to a simple constant class.


  1. Class autoloading and dependencies are managed by Composer so install it following the instructions on Composer: Installation - *nix or just run the following command:
$ curl -sS https://getcomposer.org/installer | php
  1. Add dependency to GAubry\Enum into require section of your composer.json:
        "require": {
            "geoffroy-aubry/enum": "1.*"

and run php composer.phar install from the terminal into the root folder of your project.

  1. Include Composer's autoloader and use the GAubry\Enum\EnumAbstract class:
    require_once 'vendor/autoload.php';


API documentation generated by ApiGen and included in the /doc/api folder.

$ vendor/bin/apigen.php -c apigen.neon

Copyrights & licensing

Licensed under the GNU Lesser General Public License v3 (LGPL version 3). See LICENSE file for details.

Change log

See CHANGELOG file for details.

Continuous integration

Build Status Coverage Status

Following commands are executed during each build and must report neither errors nor warnings:

  • Unit tests with PHPUnit:

    $ php vendor/bin/phpunit --configuration phpunit.xml
  • Coding standards with PHP CodeSniffer:

    $ php vendor/bin/phpcs --standard=PSR2 src/ tests/ -v
  • Code quality with PHP Mess Detector:

    $ php vendor/bin/phpmd src/ text codesize,design,unusedcode,naming,controversial

Git branching model

The git branching model used for development is the one described and assisted by twgit tool: https://github.com/Twenga/twgit.