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This is a fork of the original package that I've added a "name" to and added to Packagist so it can actually be installed via Composer. Intall via composer require taylornetwork/class-scanner If the original owner adds a name to the composer.json and uploads to packagist, this fork will be removed, unless I end up making changes.

The Class Scanner library provides a convenient interface for finding classes defined in PHP source code. The purpose of this library is to be able to find classes within a class hierarchy without the need of actually executing the code and loading the classes into memory.

Normally if you want to find, for example, all child classes for a specific class in PHP, you would probably first need to include all the files that contain all the possible classes and then construct a hierarchy using class reflection by inspect all defined classes. Sometimes, however, including every file may not be possible, or may even be dangerous.

This library offers an alternative by allowing you to scan files for class definitions without the need of executing them in order to find classes based on their hierarchy or just for determining what classes are defined in which files.

Api documentation is available at: https://docs.riimu.net/violet/class-scanner


  • PHP Version 7.1 or newer
  • The tokenizer extension must not be disabled


Installation of this library is supported via composer. To install this library in your project, follow these steps:

  1. Install composer by following composer download instructions
  2. Add this library to your project by running composer require violet/class-scanner


The basic question this library intends to help answer, is which classes in your codebase extend a specific class.

Let's say, for example, you want to find all classes in your project that extend that class Application\Controller. In order to do this, you could do:


require 'vendor/autoload.php';

$scanner = new Violet\ClassScanner\Scanner();

foreach ($scanner->getSubClasses(Application\Controller::class) as $name) {
    echo $name;

The scanner class

Scanning files

The scanner class provides the basic functionality of the library. For scanning class definitions from source code, it provides the following methods:

  • scanFile(string $filename) - Scans this given filename for definitions
  • scanDirectory(string $directory) - Scans all the files in the directory for definitions, but does not travers directories recursively
  • scan(iterable $files) - Takes an iterable of file paths or instances of SplFileObject to scan.
  • parse(string $code) - Parses the given string as PHP code to scan for class definitions.

All the scan* functions returns the scanner itself, so you can use it like a fluent interface, e.g.


require 'vendor/autoload.php';

$classes = (new Violet\ClassScanner\Scanner())

Getting class names

The parse() function, however, returns list of all the TypeDefinition instances from the parsed code.

To get the scanned classes, the scanner has two methods:

  • getClasses(int $filter = TypeDefinition::TYPE_ANY) - Returns the names of all classes from the parsed files. The filter indicates the types of definitions to return.
  • getSubClasses(string $class, int $filter = TypeDefinition::TYPE_CLASS) - Returns the names of all the child classes (inspected recursively) for the given class name. The second parameter allows to filter the types of returned names.

By default, the getClasses() returns all type definitions from the files. This includes classes, abstract classes, interfaces and traits. Both getClasses() and getSubClasses() have a filter parameter to return only specific kinds of types. The allowed types are:

  • Violet\Scanner\TypeDefinition::TYPE_CLASS - Filters only instantiable classes and does not include abstract classes
  • Violet\Scanner\TypeDefinition::TYPE_ABSTRACT - Filters for abstract class definitions
  • Violet\Scanner\TypeDefinition::TYPE_INTERFACE - Filters for interfaces
  • Violet\Scanner\TypeDefinition::TYPE_TRAIT - Filters for traits
  • Violet\Scanner\TypeDefinition::TYPE_ANY - Filters for any type

The types can be combined with binary or operator, e.g. TypeDefinition::TYPE_CLASS | TypeDefinition::TYPE_ABSTRACT

Type definitions

If you need to implement more complex logic, you may want to use the TypeDefintion objects created from the parsed code. You can use the method getDefinitions(array $classes) to get definitions for the listed classes.

To get all definition from the scanned files you can use, for example:

$definitions = $scanner->getDefinitions($scanner->getClasses());

Note that even if you provide only one name, the array may contain multiple type definitions if the same type is defined multiple times in the scanned files.

Scanning all sub directories and excluding specific paths

By default, the scanner