rfc:immutability

PHP RFC: Immutable classes and properties

Introduction

This RFC proposes the introduction of immutable classes and properties. Currently, the only way of achieving immutability is through encapsulation. Because of that, user-land applications are using third party libraries or resort to custom implementations, but there is still no easy enforcement of immutability. Introducing this feature would help bring one unified solution to this problem, and also it would remove unnecessary logic from user-land applications. If this mechanism is introduced, developers can be sure that they are programming with no side effects, meaning that state of the object can not be changed without developers being made aware. This is especially useful when dealing with concurrency, where we can guarantee that threads will always read the same value.

Pros

  1. Immutability guaranteed by language instead of user-land implementation.
  2. Programming with no side effects.
  3. Safe for concurrency.
  4. Value objects, DTO's etc. can be easily created.
  5. Properties can be public which removes the need for getters without allowing state modification.
  6. (Please point it out more advantages)

Cons

  1. (Please point it out more disadvantages)

Proposal

Immutable Class

A class defined as immutable will imply immutability across all of its properties by default. After the object is constructed, it is not possible to modify the state of the object from any scope.

immutable class Email {
  public $email;
 
  public function __construct ($email) {
    $this->email = $email;
  }
}
 
$email = new Email("foo@php.net");
$email->email = "bar@php.net" // Call will result in Fatal Error

Changes to inheritance are made to add constraints when extending an immutable class - the child class must also be immutable in order to preserve immutability across the whole object.

immutable class Foo{}
class Bar extends Foo{} // Will result in Fatal Error

Immutable Properties

Classes have the ability to enforce immutability to only a subset of properties if needed, in that case, immutability will be implied only on properties that are declared as immutable.

class User {
  private $id;
  public immutable $email;
 
  public function __construct ($id, $email) {
    $this->id = $id;
    $this->email = $email;
  }
}

If an immutable property contains an object, to preserve immutability, the object that is being assigned to the immutable property must also be immutable.

immutable class Email{}
 
class User {
  public immutable $email;
 
  public function __construct (Email $email) {
    $this->email = $email;
  }
}

Resources are not allowed to be assigned to immutable properties because of fact that resources, by nature, are not immutable.

class File {
  public immutable $handle;
 
  public function __construct ($handle) {
    $this->handle = $handle;
  }
}
 
$file = new File(fopen('file.txt'));

If an immutable property of a parent class is overridden in a child class, it has to be declared as immutable. Since the focus of this RFC is immutable objects, having static properties in immutable classes will result in a compile error.

References

Assigning by references to immutable properties will result in an error, otherwise the object loses control over properties, and immutability can be broken.

immutable class Email {
  public $email;
 
  public function __construct ($email) {
    // validation
 
    $this->email = $email;
  }
}
 
$email = new Email("foo@php.net");
$emailRef = &$email->email;
$emailRef = "bar@php.net" // Call will result in Fatal Error

Examples

Notice in above example, changing getters and setters methods to public properties is optional. They simply don't need to be protected anymore, in fact, immutable class objects are deeply frozen with exceptions on write.

Every example shows where internal object state is important. Any references to objects passed into an immutable class constructor cannot be references to scalars or may be immutable class instances. That gives high guarantee you will keep internal state unchanged for all the time.


Money

Money Pattern, defined by Martin Fowler and published in Patterns of Enterprise Application Architecture, is a great way to represent value-unit pairs. It is called the Money Pattern because it emerged in a financial context.

class Currency {
 
    private $centFactor;
    private $stringRepresentation;
 
    private function __construct(int $centFactor, string $stringRepresentation) {
        $this->centFactor = $centFactor;
        $this->stringRepresentation = $stringRepresentation;
    }
 
    public function getCentFactor() : int {
        return $this->centFactor;
    }
 
    public function getStringRepresentation() : string {
        return $this->stringRepresentation;
    }
 
    public static function USD() : Currency {
        return new self(100, 'USD');
    }
 
    public static function EUR() : Currency {
        return new self(100, 'EUR');
    }
}
 
class Money {
 
    private $amount;
    private $currency;
 
    public function __construct($amount, Currency $currency) {
        $this->amount = $amount;
        $this->currency = $currency;
    }
 
    public function getAmount() : float {
        return $this->amount;
    }
 
    public function getCurrency() : Currency {
        return $this->currency;
    }
 
    public function add(Money $other) : Money {
        $this->ensureSameCurrencyWith($other);
        return new Money($this->amount + $other->getAmount(), $this->currency);
    }
 
    public function subtract(Money $other) {
        $this->ensureSameCurrencyWith($other);
        return new Money($this->amount - $other->getAmount(), $this->currency);
    }
 
    public function multiplyBy($multiplier, $roundMethod = PHP_ROUND_HALF_UP) {
        $product = round($this->amount * $multiplier, 0, $roundMethod);
        return new Money($product, $this->currency);
    }
 
    private function ensureSameCurrencyWith(Money $other) {
        if ($this->currency != $other->getCurrency()) {
            throw new \Exception("Both Moneys must be of same currency");
        }
    }
}
 
$oneThousand = new Money(1000, Currency::USD());

After refactoring classes to immutable this example will look like this:

immutable class Currency {
 
    /** @var int */
    public $centFactor;
    /** @var string */
    public $stringRepresentation;
 
    private function __construct(int $centFactor, string $stringRepresentation) {
        $this->centFactor = $centFactor;
        $this->stringRepresentation = $stringRepresentation;
    }
 
    public static function USD() : Currency {
        return new self(100, 'USD');
    }
 
    public static function EUR() : Currency {
        return new self(100, 'EUR');
    }
}
 
immutable class Money {
 
    /** @var float */
    public $amount;
    /** @var Currency */
    public $currency;
 
    public function __construct(float $amount, Currency $currency) {
        $this->amount = $amount;
        $this->currency = $currency;
    }
 
    public function add(Money $other) : Money {
        $this->ensureSameCurrencyWith($other);
        return new Money($this->amount + $other->amount, $this->currency);
    }
 
    public function subtract(Money $other) {
        $this->ensureSameCurrencyWith($other);
        return new Money($this->amount - $other->amount, $this->currency);
    }
 
    public function multiplyBy($multiplier, $roundMethod = PHP_ROUND_HALF_UP) {
        $product = round($this->amount * $multiplier, 0, $roundMethod);
        return new Money($product, $this->currency);
    }
 
    private function ensureSameCurrencyWith(Money $other) {
        if ($this->currency != $other->currency) {
            throw new \Exception("Both Moneys must be of same currency");
        }
    }
}
 
$oneThousand = new Money(1000, Currency::USD());

There is no need for getters because this internally immutable object is deeply frozen, and none of his properties cannot be written to anymore. All properties accept scalar values or objects which implement the immutable class, so there is high guarantee such Money object will keep its internal state untouched.

Backward Incompatible Changes

No backwardly incompatible changes.

Proposed PHP Version(s)

- PHP 7.2

RFC Impact

To SAPIs

No SAPI impact.

To Existing Extensions

- Reflection is patched.

To Opcache

New Constants

No new constants.

php.ini Defaults

No changes for INI values.

Open Issues

No open issues.

Unaffected PHP Functionality

Future Scope

Proposed Voting Choices

Proposals require 2/3 majority

Patches and Tests

Implementation

After the project is implemented, this section should contain

  1. the version(s) it was merged to
  2. a link to the git commit(s)
  3. a link to the PHP manual entry for the feature

References

Rejected Features

- Immutable interfaces

rfc/immutability.txt · Last modified: 2017/03/22 17:12 by geeh