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Comparing objects in PHP 4

In PHP 4, objects are compared in a very simple manner, namely: Two object instances are equal if they have the same attributes and values, and are instances of the same class. Similar rules are applied when comparing two objects using the identity operator (===).

If we were to execute the code in the example below:

Example 13-1. Example of object comparison in PHP 4

<?php
function bool2str($bool) {
    if ($bool === false) {
            return 'FALSE';
    } else {
            return 'TRUE';
    }
}

function compareObjects(&$o1, &$o2) {
    echo 'o1 == o2 : '.bool2str($o1 == $o2)."\n";
    echo 'o1 != o2 : '.bool2str($o1 != $o2)."\n";
    echo 'o1 === o2 : '.bool2str($o1 === $o2)."\n";
    echo 'o1 !== o2 : '.bool2str($o1 !== $o2)."\n";
}

class Flag {
    var $flag;

    function Flag($flag=true) {
            $this->flag = $flag;
    }
}

class SwitchableFlag extends Flag {

    function turnOn() {
        $this->flag = true;
    }

    function turnOff() {
        $this->flag = false;
    }
}

$o = new Flag();
$p = new Flag(false);
$q = new Flag();

$r = new SwitchableFlag();

echo "Compare instances created with the same parameters\n";
compareObjects($o, $q);

echo "\nCompare instances created with different parameters\n";
compareObjects($o, $p);

echo "\nCompare an instance of a parent class with one from a subclass\n";
compareObjects($o, $r);
 ?>
We will see:
Compare instances created with the same parameters
o1 == o2 : TRUE
o1 != o2 : FALSE
o1 === o2 : TRUE
o1 !== o2 : FALSE

Compare instances created with different parameters
o1 == o2 : FALSE
o1 != o2 : TRUE
o1 === o2 : FALSE
o1 !== o2 : TRUE

Compare an instance of a parent class with one from a subclass
o1 == o2 : FALSE
o1 != o2 : TRUE
o1 === o2 : FALSE
 o1 !== o2 : TRUE
Which is the output we will expect to obtain given the comparison rules above. Only instances with the same values for their attributes and from the same class are considered equal and identical.

Even in the cases where we have object composition, the same comparison rules apply. In the example below we create a container class that stores an associative array of Flag objects.

Example 13-2. Compound object comparisons in PHP 4

<?php
class FlagSet {
    var $set;

    function FlagSet($flagArr = array()) {
        $this->set = $flagArr;
    }

    function addFlag($name, $flag) {
        $this->set[$name] = $flag;
    }

    function removeFlag($name) {
        if (array_key_exists($name, $this->set)) {
            unset($this->set[$name]);
        }
    }
}


$u = new FlagSet();
$u->addFlag('flag1', $o);
$u->addFlag('flag2', $p);
$v = new FlagSet(array('flag1'=>$q, 'flag2'=>$p));
$w = new FlagSet(array('flag1'=>$q));

echo "\nComposite objects u(o,p) and v(q,p)\n";
compareObjects($u, $v);

echo "\nu(o,p) and w(q)\n";
compareObjects($u, $w);
 ?>
Which gives the expected output:
Composite objects u(o,p) and v(q,p)
o1 == o2 : TRUE
o1 != o2 : FALSE
o1 === o2 : TRUE
o1 !== o2 : FALSE

u(o,p) and w(q)
o1 == o2 : FALSE
o1 != o2 : TRUE
o1 === o2 : FALSE
 o1 !== o2 : TRUE

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