rfc:named_params

PHP RFC: Named Arguments

Introduction

Named arguments allow passing arguments to a function based on the parameter name, rather than the parameter position. This makes the meaning of the argument self-documenting, makes the arguments order-independent, and allows skipping default values arbitrarily.

To give a simple example:

// Using positional arguments:
array_fill(0, 100, 50);
 
// Using named arguments:
array_fill(start_index: 0, num: 100, value: 50);

The order in which the named arguments are passed does not matter. The above example passes them in the same order as they are declared in the function signature, but any other order is possible too:

array_fill(value: 50, num: 100, start_index: 0);

It is possible to combine named arguments with normal, positional arguments and it is also possible to specify only some of the optional arguments of a function, regardless of their order:

htmlspecialchars($string, double_encode: false);
// Same as
htmlspecialchars($string, ENT_COMPAT | ENT_HTML401, 'UTF-8', false);

What are the benefits of named arguments?

Skipping defaults

One obvious benefit of named arguments can be seen in the last code sample (using htmlspecialchars): You no longer have to specify all defaults until the one you want to change. Named arguments allow you to directly overwrite only those defaults that you wish to change.

This is also possible with the skipparams RFC, but named arguments make the intended behavior clearer. Compare:

htmlspecialchars($string, default, default, false);
// vs
htmlspecialchars($string, double_encode: false);

Seeing the first line you will not know what the false argument does (unless you happen to know the htmlspecialchars signature by heart), whereas the double_encode: false variant makes the intention clear.

Self-documenting code

The benefit of making code self-documenting applies even when you are not skipping optional arguments. For example, compare the following two lines:

array_slice($array, $offset, $length, true);
// vs
array_slice($array, $offset, $length, preserve_keys: true);

If I wasn't writing this example right now, I would not know what the fourth parameter of array_slice does (or even that it exists in the first place).

Object Initialization

The Constructor Property Promotion RFC makes it a lot simpler to declare classes for value objects. To pick one of the examples from that RFC:

// Part of PHP AST representation
class ParamNode extends Node {
    public function __construct(
        public string $name,
        public ExprNode $default = null,
        public TypeNode $type = null,
        public bool $byRef = false,
        public bool $variadic = false,
        Location $startLoc = null,
        Location $endLoc = null,
    ) {
        parent::__construct($startLoc, $endLoc);
    }
}

Constructors in particular often have a larger than average number of parameters whose order has no particular significance, and which are commonly defaulted. While constructor promotion makes the class declaration simple, it does not help the actual object instantiation.

There have been multiple attempts to make object construction more ergonomic, such as the Object Initializer RFC and the COPA RFC. However, all such attempts have been declined, as they do not integrate well into the language, due to unfavorable interaction with constructors or non-public properties.

Named arguments solve the object initialization problem as a side-effect, in a way that integrates well with existing language semantics.

new ParamNode("test", null, null, false, true);
// becomes:
new ParamNode("test", variadic: true);
 
new ParamNode($name, null, null, $isVariadic, $passByRef);
// or was it?
new ParamNode($name, null, null, $passByRef, $isVariadic);
// becomes
new ParamNode($name, variadic: $isVariadic, byRef: $passByRef);
// or
new ParamNode($name, byRef: $passByRef, variadic: $isVariadic);
// and it no longer matters!

The benefit of named arguments for object initialization is on the surface the same as for other functions, it just tends to matter more in practice here.

Type-safe and documented options

One of the common workarounds for the lack of named arguments, is the use of an options array. The previous example could be rewritten to use an options array as follows:

class ParamNode extends Node {
    public string $name;
    public ExprNode $default;
    public TypeNode $type;
    public bool $byRef;
    public bool $variadic;
 
    public function __construct(string $name, array $options = []) {
        $this->name = $name;
        $this->default = $options['default'] ?? null;
        $this->type = $options['type'] ?? null;
        $this->byRef = $options['byRef'] ?? false;
        $this->variadic = $options['variadic'] ?? false;
 
        parent::__construct(
            $options['startLoc'] ?? null,
            $options['endLoc'] ?? null
        );
    }
}
 
// Usage:
new ParamNode($name, ['variadic' => true]);
new ParamNode($name, ['variadic' => $isVariadic, 'byRef' => $passByRef]);

While this works, and is already possible today, it has a quite a range of disadvantages:

  • For constructors in particular, it precludes usage of constructor promotion.
  • The available options are not documented in the signature. You have to look at the implementation or phpdoc to find out what is supported and what types it requires. Phpdoc also provides no universally recognized way to document this.
  • The type of the option values is not validated unless manually implemented. In the above example, the types will actually be validated due to the use of property types, but this will not follow usual PHP semantics (e.g. if the class declaration uses strict_types, the options will also be validated according to strict_types).
  • Unless you go out of your way to protect against this, passing of unknown options will silently succeed.
  • Use of an options array requires a specific decision at the time the API is introduced. If you start off without one, but then add additional optional parameters and realize that using an options array would be cleaner, you cannot perform the switch without breaking existing API users.

Named parameters provide the same functionality as options arrays, without any of the disadvantages.

Attributes

The use of named arguments in phpdoc annotations is already wide-spread in the ecosystem. While the Attributes RFC replaces phpdoc annotations with a first-class language feature, it does not provide support for named arguments. This means that existing annotations will have to introduce significant structural changes to migrate to the attribute system.

For example, the Symfony Route annotation accepts a number of optional options such as methods. Currently, a migration to attributes might look like this:

/**
 * @Route("/api/posts/{id}", methods={"GET","HEAD"})
 */
public function show(int $id) { ... }
 
// Might become:
 
<<Route("/api/posts/{id}", ["methods" => ["GET", "HEAD"]])>>
public function show(int $id) { ... }

Introducing named arguments in the same version as attributes would allow retaining exactly the same structure as before:

<<Route("/api/posts/{id}", methods: ["GET", "HEAD"])>>
public function show(int $id) { ... }

Some changes would still be necessary due to the lack of support for nested annotations, but this would make the migration a good bit smoother.

Proposal

Syntax

Named arguments are passed by prefixing the value with the parameter name followed by a colon:

callAFunction(paramName: $value);

It is possible to use reserved keywords as the parameter name:

array_foobar(array: $value);

The parameter name must be an identifier, it's not possible to specify it dynamically:

// NOT supported.
function_name($variableStoringParamName: $value);

This syntax is not supported, because it would create an ambiguity: Is function_name(FOO: $value) a simple named argument use, or does it intend to use the value of the FOO constant as the parameter name? However, a different way to specify the parameter name dynamically is provided in the argument unpacking section.

Some syntax alternatives that are technically feasible are:

function_name(paramName: $value);    // (1) as proposed
function_name(paramName => $value);  // (2)
function_name(paramName = $value);   // (3)
function_name(paramName=$value);     // (3) formatting variation
function_name($paramName: $value);   // (4)
function_name($paramName => $value); // (5)

It should be noted that the following syntax is not possible, because it already constitutes legal code:

function_name($paramName = $value);

A previous version of this RFC proposed => (variant 2) as the named arguments syntax. However, practical usage has found this to be rather noisy and non-ergonomic. See the future scope section for some additional syntax considerations, and why : might be a good choice.

Constraints

It is possible to use positional and named arguments in the same call, however the named arguments must come after the positional arguments:

// Legal
test($foo, param: $bar);
// Compile-time error
test(param: $bar, $foo);

Passing the same parameter multiple times results in an Error exception:

function test($param) { ... }
 
// Error: Named parameter $param overwrites previous argument
test(param: 1, param: 2);
// Error: Named parameter $param overwrites previous argument
test(1, param: 2);

The first case is trivially illegal, because it specifies the same named argument twice. The second case is also illegal, because the positional argument and the named argument refer to the same parameter.

With the exception of variadic functions discussed below, specifying an unknown parameter name results in an Error exception:

function test($param) { ... }
 
// Error: Unknown named parameter $parma
test(parma: "Oops, a typo");

Variadic functions and argument unpacking

Functions declared as variadic using the ...$args syntax will also collect unknown named arguments into $args. The unknown named arguments will always follow after any positional arguments and will be in the order in which they were passed.

function test(...$args) { var_dump($args); }
 
test(1, 2, 3, a: 'a', b: 'b');
// [1, 2, 3, "a" => "a", "b" => "b"]

The foo(...$args) unpacking syntax from the argument unpacking RFC also supports unpacking named arguments:

$params = ['start_index' => 0, 'num' => 100, 'value' => 50];
array_fill(...$params);

Any value with a string key is unpacked as a named argument. Integers keys are treated as normal positional arguments (with the integer value being ignored). Keys that are neither integers or strings (only possible for iterators) result in a TypeError.

Argument unpacking is also subject to the general rule that positional arguments must always precede named arguments. Both of the following calls throw an Error exception:

array_fill(...['start_index' => 0, 100, 50]);
array_fill(start_index: 0, ...[100, 50]);

Furthermore, unpacking is subject to the usual limitation that no positional or named arguments may follow the unpack:

test(...$values, $value); // Compile-time error (as before)
test(...$values, paramName: $value); // Compile-time error

One of the primary use-cases for that variadic/unpacking syntaxes is forwarding of arguments:

function passthru(callable $c, ...$args) {
    return $c(...$args);
}

The support for named arguments in both variadics and argument unpacking ensures that this pattern will continue to work once named arguments are introduced.

func_get_args() and friends

The func_*() family of functions is intended to be mostly transparent with regard to named arguments, by treating the arguments as if they were all passed positionally, and missing arguments were replaced with their defaults. For example:

function test($a = 0, $b = 1, $c = 2) {
    var_dump(func_get_args());
}
 
test(c: 5);
// Will behave exactly the same as:
test(0, 1, 5);
// Which is:
// array(3) { [0] => 0, [1] => 1, [2] => 5 }

The behavior of func_num_args() and func_get_arg() is consistent with that of func_get_args().

All three functions are oblivious to the collection of unknown named arguments by variadics. func_get_args() will not return the collected values and func_num_args() will not include them in the argument count. Collected unknown named arguments can only be accessed through the variadic parameter.

call_user_func() and friends

Internal functions that perform some kind of “call forwarding”, including call_user_func() and call_user_func_array() support named arguments:

 
$func = function($a = '', $b = '', $c = '') {
    echo "a: $a, b: $b, c: $c\n";
}
 
// All of the following behave the same:
$func('x', c: 'y');
call_user_func($func, 'x', c: 'y');
call_user_func_array($func, ['x', 'c' => 'y']);

These calls are subject to the same restrictions as normal, for example there may not be positional arguments after named arguments.

For call_user_func_array(), this behavior constitutes a minor backwards-compatibility break: Previously, array keys were completely ignored by this function. Now, string keys will be interpreted as parameter names.

While call_user_func(_array) are the “base cases”, this support also extends to other similar functions, such as ReflectionClass::newInstance() and ReflectionClass::newInstanceArgs().

__call()

Unlike __invoke(), the __call() and __callStatic() magic methods do not specify a proper method signature, so we cannot differentiate behavior based on whether the method uses variadics or not. To permit maximum functionality, __call() will collect unknown named parameters into the $args array, just like it happens for variadics:

class Proxy {
    public function __construct(
        private object $object,
    ) {}
    public function __call(string $name, array $args) {
        // $name == "someMethod"
        // $args == [1, "paramName" => 2];
        $this->object->$name(...$args);
    }
}
 
$proxy = new Proxy(new FooBar);
$proxy->someMethod(1, paramName: 2);

Attributes

Attributes also support named arguments:

<<MyAttribute('A', b: 'B')>>
class Test {}

Similar to normal calls, trying to pass positional arguments after named arguments results in a compile-time error. Additionally, using the same parameter name twice results in a compile-time error.

The ReflectionAttribute::getArguments() method returns positional and named arguments in the same format as variadics do:

var_dump($attr->getArguments());
// array(2) {
//   [0]=>
//   string(1) "A"
//   ["b"]=>
//   string(1) "B"
// }

The ReflectionAttribute::newInstance() method will invoke the constructor with named arguments following the rules of ordinary calls.

Parameter name changes during inheritance

Currently, parameter names are not part of the signature-contract. When only positional arguments are used, this is quite reasonable: The name of the parameter is irrelevant to the caller. Named arguments change this. If an inheriting class changes a parameter name, calls using named arguments might fail, thus violating the Liskov substitution principle (LSP):

interface I {
    public function test($foo, $bar);
}
 
class C implements I {
    public function test($a, $b) {}
}
 
$obj = new C;
 
// Pass params according to I::test() contract
$obj->test(foo: "foo", bar: "bar"); // ERROR!

This mail contains a detailed analysis of how this issue is handled by different languages. To summarize the different observed behaviors:

  • Python and Ruby allow parameter name changes silently, and throw an error during the call.
  • C# and Swift introduce a new overload (or error if override is requested). As PHP does not support method overloading, this is not an option for us.
  • Kotlin warns on parameter name change and errors on call.

Because we are retrofitting named arguments to an old language with a large body of existing code, we do not consider it sensible to unconditionally diagnose parameter name mismatches, especially considering that a lot of old code will never be invoked using named arguments.

This RFC proposes to follow the model of Python or Ruby: PHP will silently accept parameter name changes during inheritance, which may result in call-time exceptions when methods with renamed parameters are called. Static analyzers and IDEs are encouraged to diagnose parameter name mismatches (with appropriate suppression facilities).

This is a pragmatic approach that acknowledges that named arguments are not relevant for many methods, and renamed parameters will usually not become a problem in practice. There is no conceivable reason why a method such as offsetGet() would be called with named parameters, and there is thus no benefit in requiring offsetGet() implementors to use the same parameter name.

As previously mentioned, this approach is also used by some existing languages, most notably Python, which is one of the languages with the heaviest usage of named arguments. This is hard evidence that such an approach does work reasonably well in practice, though of course the situations are somewhat different.

The alternatives section describes a possible alternative that is not pursued by this RFC, but could be added later on if we felt a strong need.

Internal functions

Historically, internal functions did not have a well-defined concept of a parameter “default value”. While they specify which parameters are optional, the actual default value is determined by the implementation and not available for introspection.

Since PHP 8.0, it is possible to specify reflectible default values for internal functions, and this has already happened for functions which are bundled with the PHP distribution. This proposal is based on this default value information: Skipped parameters will be replaced by their default value before the internal implementation of the function is invoked.

However, it is not possible to specify a sensible notion of “default value” for all parameters. For example:

function array_keys(array $arg, $search_value = UNKNOWN, bool $strict = false): array {}

The array_keys() function has fundamentally different behavior depending on whether $search_value is passed. There exists no value that can be passed as $search_value, which will exhibit the same behavior as not passing the parameter. Such parameters are denoted as UNKNOWN in stubs.

Skipping such a parameter will result in an Error exception being thrown.

// This is okay.
array_keys($array, search_value: 42, strict: true);
 
// Error: Argument #2 ($search_value) must be passed explicitly,
//        because the default value is not known
array_keys($array, strict: true);

I believe this is exactly the behavior we want, as specifying $strict without $search_value does not make sense.

The disadvantage of this general approach is that it requires default value information to be provided in order to work. 3rd-party extensions that do not provide this information (yet), will work with named arguments, but will not support skipping of arguments.

The alternative, which has been pursued by a previous version of this proposal, is to leave UNDEF values on the stack and let them be interpreted appropriately by the internal parameter parsing mechanism (ZPP). This means that many cases will “just work”, but some cases, especially those containing explicit argument counts checks (ZEND_NUM_ARGS()), may not just misbehave, but result in memory unsafety and crashes.

Documentation / Implementation mismatches

Currently, the parameter names used in the documentation and the implementation do not always match. If this proposal is accepted, we will synchronize the parameter names between both. This will also involve creating some naming guidelines, such as on the use of casing in parameter names.

Internal APIs

As outlined above, the existence of named arguments is mostly transparent for internal functions. Internal functions will see ordinary positional arguments, without any indication that the original call occurred via named arguments. As such, code adjustments will usually not be necessary.

One special case to consider are variadic functions, which will collect unknown named parameters into the extra_named_params field in the call execute_data and set the ZEND_CALL_HAS_EXTRA_NAMED_PARAMS call info flag. On the assumption that most existing internal functions will not be able to do anything useful with this information, functions using the ZPP * or + specifiers, or the Z_PARAM_VARIADIC and Z_PARAM_VARIADIC_EX macros will automatically throw an ArgumentCountError if extra unknown named arguments are encountered.

array_merge([1, 2], a: [3, 4]);
// ArgumentCountError: array_merge() does not accept unknown named parameters

Functions that do want to accept extra unknown named arguments should use the Z_PARAM_VARIADIC_WITH_NAMED FastZPP macro instead:

zval *args;
uint32_t num_args,
HashTable *extra_named;
ZEND_PARSE_PARAMETERS_START(0, -1)
    Z_PARAM_VARIADIC_WITH_NAMED(args, num_args, extra_named)
ZEND_PARSE_PARAMETERS_END();

The zend_call_function() mechanism is extended to support calls with named parameters by adding a new field into the zend_fcall_info structure:

typedef struct _zend_fcall_info {
    /* ... */
    HashTable *named_params;
} zend_fcall_info;

Code that manually initializes zend_fcall_info structures, instead of going through supported initialization functions, should take care to initialize this field to NULL if it is unused.

For convenience of implementation for call_user_func_array() style functions, named_params may also contain positional arguments, that will be appended to the normal params. As usual, ordering positional arguments after named ones in the array will result in an exception.

Backwards incompatible changes

In the narrow sense, this proposal has only one backwards-incompatible change: String keys in the call_user_func_array() arguments will now be interpreted as parameter names, instead of being silently ignored.

Next to this actual incompatibility, there are also two potential complications that may occur when named arguments are used with code that is not prepared to deal with them:

First, as parameter names are now significant, they should not be changed during inheritance. Existing code that performs such changes may be practically incompatible with named arguments. More generally, greater care needs to be taken when choosing parameter names, as they are now part of the API contract.

Second, code may not be prepared to deal with unknown named arguments collected into variadics. In most cases this will manifest with the parameter names simply being ignored, which is mostly harmless.

Alternatives

To named arguments

There are two primary alternative implementation approaches for named arguments that I'm aware of, which will be briefly discussed in the following.

First, to make named arguments opt-in. The current RFC allows all functions/methods to be invoked using named arguments. Requiring an explicit opt-in through a keyword or attribute would nicely side-step the problem of parameter name changes, as we could enforce those only for functions that opt-in to named arguments.

The big disadvantage of the opt-in approach is, of course, that named arguments would not work with any existing code (both userland and internal). I think that this would be a big loss to the feature, to the point that it might no longer be worthwhile. In particular, this would lose out on the object initialization use-case (as the syntax would not be usable in most cases), and would not help with old APIs, which tend to be particularly bad offenders when it comes to having many defaulted parameters and boolean flags.

I think it would be more fruitful to provide an explicit opt-out mechanism, such as a <<NoNamedArgs>> attribute, for APIs that explicitly do not wish to support named arguments, and the API burden that comes with it. (A possible example is the ArrayAccess interface, which is almost never invoked directly, and for which it is particularly common to change the parameter names for each implementer.)

Second, implementing named arguments as a side-effect of improved array destructuring functionality. As an example, let's return to the ParamNode with $options array example from earlier, and rewrite it to use array destructuring:

class ParamNode extends Node {
    public string $name;
    public ExprNode $default;
    public TypeNode $type;
    public bool $byRef;
    public bool $variadic;
 
    public function __construct(string $name, array $options) {
        [
            "default" => ExprNode $default = null,
            "type" => TypeNode $type = null,
            "byRef" => bool $type = false,
            "variadic" => bool $variadic = false,
            "startLoc" => Location $startLoc = null,
            "endLoc" => Location $endLoc = null,
        ] = $options;
 
        $this->name = $name;
        $this->default = $default;
        $this->type = $type;
        $this->byRef = $byRef;
        $this->variadic = $variadic;
        parent::__construct($startLoc, $endLoc);
    }
}

This uses the existing syntax for array destructuring with keys, but additionally assumes support for destructuring default values, as well as destructuring type checks. As an additional step, we could support destructuring directly in the function signature:

class ParamNode extends Node {
    public string $name;
    public ExprNode $default;
    public TypeNode $type;
    public bool $byRef;
    public bool $variadic;
 
    public function __construct(
        string $name,
        array [
            "default" => ExprNode $default = null,
            "type" => TypeNode $type = null,
            "byRef" => bool $type = false,
            "variadic" => bool $variadic = false,
            "startLoc" => Location $startLoc = null,
            "endLoc" => Location $endLoc = null,
        ],
    ) {
        $this->name = $name;
        $this->default = $default;
        $this->type = $type;
        $this->byRef = $byRef;
        $this->variadic = $variadic;
        parent::__construct($startLoc, $endLoc);
    }
}

While I think that improvements to array destructuring are worth pursuing, I don't think this covers the named parameter use-case satisfactorily. While this does take care of the type-safety concern, it still requires APIs to be specifically designed around an options array.

Additionally, this does not solve the problem of unknown options being silently accepted (though this could be part of a new infallible pattern matching syntax), and of unclear interaction with features like strict_types.

To parameter name changes during inheritance

This RFC proposes to silently allow parameter name changes during inheritance. This is pragmatic, but may result in call-site errors when parameter names are changed and methods are invoked on child objects. An alternative is to automagically allow using parameter names from parent methods, as the following example illustrates:

interface I {
    public function test($foo, $bar);
}
 
class C implements I {
    public function test($a, $b) {}
}
 
$obj = new C;
 
// Pass params according to C::test() contract
$obj->test(a: "foo", b: "bar");     // Works!
// Pass params according to I::test() contract
$obj->test(foo: "foo", bar: "bar"); // Also works!

Here using foo and bar as parameter names is allowed, and will be interpreted as a and b, because there is a parent method using those names. This makes the methods artificially and automagically LSP compatible.

Names from parent methods are registered as aliases, but not bound to a specific signature. As such, it's possible (though not recommended) to mix parameter names from different signatures:

// Use parameter names from both C::test() and I::test()
$obj->test(a: "foo", bar: "bar"); // Also works.

From a design perspective it would be better to forbid such calls, but I don't believe that it is worth the technical and performance cost this would entail.

There is one problem with this scheme: What happens if two signatures share the same name at different positions?

interface I {
    public function test($foo, $bar);
}
 
class C implements I {
    public function test($bar, $foo) {}
}
 
// Fatal error: Parameter $foo of C::test() at position #2 conflicts with
//              parameter $foo of I::test() at position #1

In this case, the LSP inheritance checks will report a fatal error. It is expected that this restriction will have much less impact in practice than a blanket prohibition of parameter renames, and that it will mostly point out legitimate LSP violations that hold even in the absence of named arguments. An analysis of affected cases in the top 2k composer packages can be found at https://gist.github.com/nikic/6cc9891381a83b8dca5ebdaef1068f4d. (It should be noted that the analysis is not fully accurate and may have false negatives.)

Parameter names from prototype methods can come from a number of sources:

  • Parent methods, including grand parents.
  • Interface methods, including implementations of the same method from multiple interfaces.
  • Abstract trait methods.

As such, a single parameter can have a potentially large number of aliases from a large number of prototypes.

A case that requires special consideration are parameters that are absorbed by a variadic in a child class:

class A {
    public function method($a) {}
}
class B extends A {
    public function method(...$args) {}
}
class C extends B {
    public function method($c = null, ...$args) {}
}
 
(new B)->method(a: 42);
(new C)->method(a: 42);

There are principally two ways in which this might behave:

// Option A:
(new B)->method(a: 42); // $args = [42]
(new C)->method(a: 42); // $c = 42, $args = []
 
// Option B:
(new B)->method(a: 42); // $args = ['a' => 42]
(new C)->method(a: 42); // $c = null, $args = ['a' => 42]

With option A, we would remember that $a was the first parameter of a parent method, and as such store the value at offset 0 rather than under the name "a" in the variadic parameter. Consequently, in the C class, the parameter $a would be considered an alias of $c.

With option B, we instead discard parent parameters that are absorbed into a variadic. This means that the parameter $a will be stored under the name "a" in the variadic parameter for both classes B and C. This is the option I would prefer, as it avoids further special-casing of variadic argument collection.

While I think this approach to the LSP problem is conceptually elegant, it turns out that it involves quite a few language design edge cases, as well as non-trivial technical complexity.

More importantly, code that renames parameters during inheritance may fall into one of two categories: Either the code is not used with named parameters, in which case the parameter names don't matter in the first place, or it is used with named parameters, in which case the names should really, really be changed to match across the inheritance hierarchy. Implementing this mechanism papers over a migration issue by introducing a core language feature that will have to be supported forever.

Future Scope

Shorthand syntax for matching parameter and variable name

Especially for constructors, one of the common use-cases is to assign local variables to parameters with the same name, for example:

new ParamNode(
    name: $name,
    type: $type,
    default: $default,
    variadic: $variadic,
    byRef: $byRef
);

Some languages offer special syntax (both for object initialization and destructuring) to avoid repeating the same name twice. Here is how such a syntax could look like in PHP, depending on the chosen named arguments syntax:

new ParamNode(:$name, :$type, :$default, :$variadic, :$byRef);
new ParamNode(=$name, =$type, =$default, =$variadic, =$byRef);
new ParamNode(=> $name, => $type, => $default, => $variadic, => $byRef);

It should be noted that this problem is not specific to named arguments, and also affects array destructuring:

// What you have to write right now:
['x' => $x, 'y' => $y, 'z' => $z] = $point;

Analogously to the above examples, this could be written as:

[:$x, :$y, :$z] = $point;
[=$x, =$y, =$z] = $point;
[=> $x, => $y, => $z] = $point;

Finally, this could also be useful for array construction, obsoleteing the compact() magic function and making code more analyzable:

return compact('x', 'y', 'z');
 
// Could become:
return [:$x, :$y, :$z];
return [=$x, =$y, =$z];
return [=> $x, => $y, => $z];

If I wanted to put these ideas into a general framework, I think one way to go about this would be as follows:

  • Consider identifier: $expr as a shorthand for "identifier" => $expr.
  • Consider :$variable as a shorthand for variable: $variable and thus "variable" => $variable.

Under this proposal, all three of the following would behave identically:

$point = ['x' => $x, 'y' => $y, 'z' => $z];
$point = [x: $x, y: $y, z: $z];
$point = [:$x, :$y, :$z];

Approaching from this angle, the named argument syntax we should use is paramName: $value, or :$paramName for short.

Positional-only and named-only parameters

A useful extension of this proposal would be to allow parameters that can only be used positionally, or only using named arguments. This is primarily helpful for API designers, because it gives them more freedom: A positional-only parameter may be freely renamed, while a named-only parameter may be freely reordered.

Vote

Primary votes: Yes/No

Changelog

  • 2020-07-06: Move alternative LSP behavior to “alternatives”, it's not part of the main RFC.
  • 2020-07-06: Specify that call_user_func etc support named args.
  • 2020-07-03: Add information on internal APIs.
  • 2020-07-03: Explicitly mention behavior of attributes.
  • 2020-06-23: Add alternative LSP behavior.
  • 2020-06-23: Remove syntax as open question, specify use of :.
  • 2020-05-05: RFC picked up again for PHP 8.0.
  • 2013-09-09: func_get_arg(s) now return default values on skipped parameters.
rfc/named_params.txt · Last modified: 2020/07/06 16:46 by theodorejb