[nycphp-talk] OOP noob - general best practices

Paul A Houle paul at
Wed Jan 20 11:34:08 EST 2010

Yitzchak Schaffer wrote:
> When should one use a factory method
> $foo = Foo::factory( $this )
> as opposed to using the constructor in the client code
> $foo = new Foo( $this )
    There are multiple reasons,  but one of the best reasons to write 
something like


    is that Foo:create() can choose a subtype of Foo to instantiate and 
return.  Based on the arguments,  it can return FooA,  FooB,  FooC or 
whatever.  This can come in handy.

    Another one is that Foo::create() can return false or null rather 
than throwing an Exception;  that said,  much of the time throwing an 
Exception is a better error handling mechanism than returning "nothing".

     Depending on the language,  the chaining of constructors can be 
awkward.  The issue in PHP is that superclass constructors only get 
called if you want to call them,  which means that (i) you can do 
whatever you like,  but (ii) you might forget to to initialize your 
superclasses.  Java and C# both force you to call the superclass 
constructor before you do any substantiative work in the constructor;  
it gets awkward if you have to do a lot of work to calculate the 
arguments of the superclass constructor.

> And as corollary, what belongs in a constructor and what doesn't?  In
> slides 19-22, Sebastian Bergmann of PHPUnit alludes to this question, 
> but in that presentation is apparently assuming the audience is 
> familiar with the answer, and doesn't go into it; his tagline is 
> "don't do work in the constructor," but rather do something like the 
> following.  I don't know what does and does not constitute "work."
> $foo = new Foo( $this );
> $foo->build();
      There are a lot of opinions here,  but the general funkiness of 
constructors leads a lot of people to this conclusion.  In the Scala 
language,  you've very limited in what you can do in constructors -- 
constructors really just assign values to variables.

    One trouble is components that have a large number of optional 
initialization parameters,  for instance,

$serversocket=new ServerSocket($portNumber);

    Constructors get awkward when there are a lot of parameters.  On the 
other hand,  there's something nice when you call the constructors and 
you ~know~ you've got an object that's completely initialized.  using 
private or protected constructors and a public "create" method lets you 
strike a balance in this department.  One way or another you need to be 
concious of the lifecycle of your objects.

    In many apps there are in-memory objects that correspond to objects 
in a persistent store,  say an RDBMS and that leads to another set of 
conceptual problems.  For instance,  say we've got a Person object that 
represents information about a person...  you might call


and that would call the constructor and "create" a Person object in RAM 
populated with data from the database.  Now,  there might be another 
time you want to create a "Person",  so then you might call


 and that actually 'creates' a record in the back end database.  Or,  on 
the other hand,  you might do something like

$person=new Person();

the tricky thing here is that the word "create" that people toss around 
careless actually can mean some very different things.  It's important 
to keep these apart.
> Based on Amazon reviews, I just bought a copy of the 1994 ed of 
> Object-Oriented Software Construction : Bertrand Meyer on; 
> any further recommendations?
    I got a copy of that for a buck a few years ago.  It's got some 
insight but it's definitely an older book from the C++ and Smalltalk era.

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