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PHP RFC: Closure::call

  • Version: 0.3
  • Date: 2014-07-29, put to internals 2014-08-03, latest 2014-08-17
  • Author: Andrea Faulds, ajf@ajf.me
  • Status: Under Discussion


PHP has had Closures since 5.3, and since 5.4 has had Closure::bind (static method) and Closure::bindTo (method) to allow creating new closures that have $this bound to a specific method. However, it has not been possible to bind at call-time, and you must instead create a temporary new closure, making calling bound to multiple objects cumbersome and inefficient (at least two statements are needed, and a new closure must be created and immediately disposed of for each).


A new method is added to Closure, with the following signature:

mixed Closure::call(object $to[, mixed ...$parameters])

It calls the closure with the given parameters and returns the result, with $this bound to the given object $to, using the closure's current scope. Like the bind(To) methods, a static class cannot be bound (using ->call will fail).

It can be used like so:

$foo = new StdClass;
$foo->bar = 3;
$foobar = function ($qux) { var_dump($this->bar + $qux); };
$foobar->call($foo, 4); // prints int(7)

The ->call method, unlike bind(To), does not take a scope parameter. Instead, it will always use the class of the object as its scope. Thus:

class Foo { private $x = 3; }
$foo = new Foo;
$foobar = function () { var_dump($this->bar); };
$foobar->call($foo); // prints int(3)

call would be useful in many cases where bindTo is used (e.g. search of GitHub for bindTo). A search on GitHub reveals many using bindTo and immediately calling with call_user_func, which would now not be necessary as they could just use call.


While not the sole benefit of this RFC, it can provide a performance improvement in some applications.

We use two test scripts, a.php using bindTo and b.php using call.

$a = function () {
    return $this->x;
class FooBar {
    private $x = 3;
$foobar = new FooBar;
for ($i = 0; $i < 100000; $i++) {
    $x = $a->bindTo($foobar, "FooBar");
$a = function () {
    return $this->x;
class FooBar {
    private $x = 3;
$foobar = new FooBar;
for ($i = 0; $i < 100000; $i++) {

When run for 100000 iterations, b.php shows a 2x improvement over a.php:

andreas-air:php-src ajf$ time sapi/cli/php a.php
real 0m0.259s
user 0m0.208s
sys 0m0.012s
andreas-air:php-src ajf$ time sapi/cli/php b.php
real 0m0.100s
user 0m0.094s
sys 0m0.005s

If we up the iterations by 10x, the result is the same:

andreas-air:php-src ajf$ time sapi/cli/php a.php
real 0m1.966s
user 0m1.959s
sys 0m0.005s
andreas-air:php-src ajf$ time sapi/cli/php b.php
real 0m0.962s
user 0m0.897s
sys 0m0.015s

Backward Incompatible Changes and RFC Impact

This has no effect on backwards compatibility.

Proposed PHP Version(s)

This is proposed for the next version of PHP, either the next 5.x or PHP NEXT, whichever comes sooner. The patch is based on master, intended for the next 5.x.

Future Scope

Partial application (where a new closure is returned that pre-fills the first X arguments) is a possibly worthwhile (though more difficult to implement) addition.


This is not a language change, so a straight 50%+1 Yes/No vote can be held.

Voting started 2014-08-17 but was cancelled the same day due to the removal of unbound scoped closures.

Patches and Tests

A branch which implements this (with a test) based on the current master can be found here: https://github.com/TazeTSchnitzel/php-src/tree/Closure_apply

There is a pull request for review purposes here: https://github.com/php/php-src/pull/775



  • v0.3 - Removed unbound scoped closures, made ->call use class of object as its scope
  • v0.2.1 - Added performance section
  • v0.2 - Closure::apply renamed to Closure::call for consistency with JavaScript (former takes an array in JS à la call_user_func_array, latter bare parameters)
  • v0.1 - Initial version
rfc/closure_apply.1408316120.txt.gz · Last modified: 2017/09/22 13:28 (external edit)