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Variable functions

PHP supports the concept of variable functions. This means that if a variable name has parentheses appended to it, PHP will look for a function with the same name as whatever the variable evaluates to, and will attempt to execute it. Among other things, this can be used to implement callbacks, function tables, and so forth.

Variable functions won't work with language constructs such as echo(), print(), unset(), isset(), empty(), include(), require() and the like. You need to use your own wrapper function to utilize any of these constructs as variable functions.

Example 12-12. Variable function example

function foo()
    echo "In foo()<br>\n";

function bar($arg = '')
    echo "In bar(); argument was '$arg'.<br>\n";

// This is a wrapper function around echo
function echoit($string)
    echo $string;

$func = 'foo';
$func();        // This calls foo()

$func = 'bar';
$func('test');  // This calls bar()

$func = 'echoit';
$func('test');  // This calls echoit()

You can also call an object's method by using the variable functions feature.

Example 12-13. Variable method example

class Foo
    function Var()
        $name = 'Bar';
        $this->$name(); // This calls the Bar() method
    function Bar()
        echo "This is Bar";

$foo = new Foo();
$funcname = "Var";
$foo->$funcname();  // This calls $foo->Var()


See also call_user_func(), variable variables and function_exists().

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