International PHP Conference 2015

Returning values

Values are returned by using the optional return statement. Any type may be returned, including arrays and objects. This causes the function to end its execution immediately and pass control back to the line from which it was called. See return for more information.

Note:

If the return is omitted the value NULL will be returned.

Use of return

Example #1 Use of return

<?php
function square($num)
{
    return 
$num $num;
}
echo 
square(4);   // outputs '16'.
?>

A function can not return multiple values, but similar results can be obtained by returning an array.

Example #2 Returning an array to get multiple values

<?php
function small_numbers()
{
    return array (
012);
}
list (
$zero$one$two) = small_numbers();
?>

To return a reference from a function, use the reference operator & in both the function declaration and when assigning the returned value to a variable:

Example #3 Returning a reference from a function

<?php
function &returns_reference()
{
    return 
$someref;
}

$newref =& returns_reference();
?>

For more information on references, please check out References Explained.

Return type declarations

PHP 7 adds support for return type declarations. Similarly to argument type declarations, return type declarations specify the type of the value that will be returned from a function. The same types are available for return type declarations as are available for argument type declarations.

Strict typing also has an effect on return type declarations. In the default weak mode, returned values will be coerced to the correct type if they are not already of that type. In strong mode, the returned value must be of the correct type, otherwise a TypeError will be thrown.

Note:

When overriding a parent method, the child's method must match any return type declaration on the parent. If the parent doesn't define a return type, then the child method may do so.

Examples

Example #4 Basic return type declaration

<?php
function sum($a$b): float {
    return 
$a $b;
}

// Note that a float will be returned.
var_dump(sum(12));
?>

The above example will output:

float(3)

Example #5 Strict mode in action

<?php
declare(strict_types=1);

function 
sum($a$b): int {
    return 
$a $b;
}

var_dump(sum(12));
var_dump(sum(12.5));
?>

The above example will output:

int(3)

Fatal error: Uncaught TypeError: Return value of sum() must be of the type integer, float returned in - on line 5 in -:5
Stack trace:
#0 -(9): sum(1, 2.5)
#1 {main}
  thrown in - on line 5

Example #6 Returning an object

<?php
class {}

function 
getC(): {
    return new 
C;
}

var_dump(getC());
?>

The above example will output:

object(C)#1 (0) {
}
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User Contributed Notes 7 notes

up
20
rstaveley at seseit dot com
5 years ago
Developers with a C background may expect pass by reference semantics for arrays. It may be surprising that  pass by value is used for arrays just like scalars. Objects are implicitly passed by reference.

<?php

# (1) Objects are always passed by reference and returned by reference

class Obj {
    public
$x;
}

function
obj_inc_x($obj) {
   
$obj->x++;
    return
$obj;
}

$obj = new Obj();
$obj->x = 1;

$obj2 = obj_inc_x($obj);
obj_inc_x($obj2);

print
$obj->x . ', ' . $obj2->x . "\n";

# (2) Scalars are not passed by reference or returned as such

function scalar_inc_x($x) {
   
$x++;
    return
$x;
}

$x = 1;

$x2 = scalar_inc_x($x);
scalar_inc_x($x2);

print
$x . ', ' . $x2 . "\n";

# (3) You have to force pass by reference and return by reference on scalars

function &scalar_ref_inc_x(&$x) {
   
$x++;
    return
$x;
}

$x = 1;

$x2 =& scalar_ref_inc_x($x);    # Need reference here as well as the function sig
scalar_ref_inc_x($x2);

print
$x . ', ' . $x2 . "\n";

# (4) Arrays use pass by value sematics just like scalars

function array_inc_x($array) {
   
$array{'x'}++;
    return
$array;
}

$array = array();
$array['x'] = 1;

$array2 = array_inc_x($array);
array_inc_x($array2);

print
$array['x'] . ', ' . $array2['x'] . "\n";

# (5) You have to force pass by reference and return by reference on arrays

function &array_ref_inc_x(&$array) {
   
$array{'x'}++;
    return
$array;
}

$array = array();
$array['x'] = 1;

$array2 =& array_ref_inc_x($array); # Need reference here as well as the function sig
array_ref_inc_x($array2);

print
$array['x'] . ', ' . $array2['x'] . "\n";
up
14
bgalloway at citycarshare dot org
7 years ago
Be careful about using "do this thing or die()" logic in your return lines.  It doesn't work as you'd expect:

<?php
function myfunc1() {
    return(
'thingy' or die('otherthingy'));
}
function
myfunc2() {
    return
'thingy' or die('otherthingy');
}
function
myfunc3() {
    return(
'thingy') or die('otherthingy');
}
function
myfunc4() {
    return
'thingy' or 'otherthingy';
}
function
myfunc5() {
   
$x = 'thingy' or 'otherthingy'; return $x;
}
echo
myfunc1(). "\n". myfunc2(). "\n". myfunc3(). "\n". myfunc4(). "\n". myfunc5(). "\n";
?>

Only myfunc5() returns 'thingy' - the rest return 1.
up
7
nick at itomic.com
12 years ago
Functions which return references, may return a NULL value. This is inconsistent with the fact that function parameters passed by reference can't be passed as NULL (or in fact anything which isnt a variable).

i.e.

<?php

function &testRet()
{
    return
NULL;
}

if (
testRet() === NULL)
{
    echo
"NULL";
}
?>

parses fine and echoes NULL
up
4
ian at NO_SPAM dot verteron dot net
12 years ago
In reference to the poster above, an additional (better?) way to return multiple values from a function is to use list(). For example:

function fn($a, $b)
{
   # complex stuff

   return array(
      $a * $b,
      $a + $b,
   );
}

list($product, $sum) = fn(3, 4);

echo $product; # prints 12
echo $sum; # prints 7
up
0
ryan dot jentzsch at gmail dot com
4 days ago
PHP 7 return types if specified can not return a null.
For example:
<?php
declare(strict_types=1);

function
add2ints(int $x, int $y):int
{
   
$z = $x + $y;
    if (
$z===0)
    {
        return
null;
    }
    return
$z;
}
$a = add2ints(3, 4);
echo
is_null($a) ? 'Null' : $a;
$b = add2ints(-2, 2);
echo
is_null($b) ? 'Null' : $b;
exit();

Output:
7
Process finished with
exit code 139
up
-9
Anonymous
5 years ago
As of at least PHP 5.3, a function or class method returning an object acts like an object.

<?php

class A {
    function
test() {
        echo
"Yay!";
        }
    }

function
get_obj() {
    return new
A();
    }

get_obj()->test();  // "Yay!"

?>

Sorry, still doesn't work with arrays.  Ie <?php echo get_array()[1]; ?> fails.
up
-28
ahmad at myandmyhost dot comze dot com
1 year ago
we can return array using foreach
<?php
function my_func2()
{
    return array(
"Name"=>"Ahmad Sayeed","Email"=>"ahmad@gmail.com");
   
}
$ar = my_func2();
foreach(
$ar as $key=>$value)
{echo
$key." , ".$value,"<br />";}

?>
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