Larry Garfield is a prominent speaker in the PHP community and has a lot of experience delivering talks. He’s one of the many top speakers that attended this conference. And, well, the message is quite clear: never* use arrays.
(*) in public

Why? Because it’s kind of a hack. Because values are not guaranteed to be of the same type. Because they have poor performance. And because PHP doesn’t have them... *gasp*

What Larry means is that the definition of an “array” is an ordered sequence of values of the same type, while in PHP arrays are associative arrays without type guarantees. Numeric arrays, where you don’t provide the key in the assignment, are a hack and behave weird (the keys are not always sequential).

Then he mentioned one of the greatest bugs of the last few years, namely Drupageddon (2014), which was also due to some code expecting numerical keys, but was (in certain conditions) causing an SQL injection risk.

So… What’s better? Purpose-built data structures! Do you know where he’s getting at? Yep, objects of course. And that’s where PHP has already everything you need. Did you know there’s an ArrayObject? Extend it to create a “TypedArray”. Or use the IteratorAggregate, Countable and Traversable interfaces to create sequences, sets, etc. They can be made to be unique, ordered, typed and everything you want.

But objects are slower, right? Nope…

Technique

Runtime (s)

Memory (bytes)

Associative array

9.4311 (n/a)

541,450,384 (n/a)

stdClass

11.2173 (+18.94%)

589,831,120 (+8.94%)

Public properties

8.2172 (-12.87%)

253,831,584 (-53.12%)

Private properties

11.0881 (+17.57%)

253,833,000 (-53.12%)

Anonymous class

8.1095 (-14.07%)

253,832,368 (-53.12%)

Check Larry’s slides for the benchmark he used, but the conclusion above is mind-blowing. 

Slides: https://www.garfieldtech.com/presentations/slides-never-use-arrays/phpbnl2020/#/

Related

This article is part of the PHPBNL20 blogs

More insights

Nova 4.0 is available!

De belangrijkste nieuwigheden uitgelicht.

Author: Noah Gillard
PHP Developer
Noah Gillard
Thumbnail Blog Nova 4 Release Codana Styled

Laracon Online Winter 2022

This is what we learned

Author: Tom Van den Eynden
Senior PHP developer
Tom Van den Eynden
Laracon winter 2022 Codana Banner

How to generate PDFs in your PHP web application

Author: Sarah Jehin
PHP developer
Sarah Jehin
code

Say hello to Laravel 9!

You read it right, Laraval 9 is available! 🚀

Author: Tom Van den Eynden
Senior PHP developer
Tom Van den Eynden
Laravel 9

We are official Laravel Partner

And here's why

Author: Joris De Groot
Strategic Director and Managing Partner
Joris De Groot
Laravel Logo 2020

Digital apps for accelerated education

What makes an e-learning app a succes?

Author: Joris De Groot
Strategic Director and Managing Partner
Joris De Groot
Girl learning