Learning Resources
 

Extending classes and visibility settings


Visibility - The visibility of a property or method can be defined by prefixing the declaration with the keywords public, protected or private. Class members declared public can be accessed everywhere. Members declared protected can be accessed only within the class itself and by inherited and parent classes. Members declared as private may only be accessed by the class that defines the member.

Property Visibility - Class properties must be defined as public, private, or protected. If declared using var, the property will be defined as public.

Example #1 Property declaration
/**
 * Define MyClass
 */
class MyClass
{
    public $public = 'Public';
    protected $protected = 'Protected';
    private $private = 'Private';

    function printHello()
    {
        echo $this->public;
        echo $this->protected;
        echo $this->private;
    }
}

$obj = new MyClass();
echo $obj->public; // Works
echo $obj->protected; // Fatal Error
echo $obj->private; // Fatal Error
$obj->printHello(); // Shows Public, Protected and Private


/**
 * Define MyClass2
 */
class MyClass2 extends MyClass
{
    // We can redeclare the public and protected method, but not private
    protected $protected = 'Protected2';

    function printHello()
    {
        echo $this->public;
        echo $this->protected;
        echo $this->private;
    }
}

$obj2 = new MyClass2();
echo $obj2->public; // Works
echo $obj2->private; // Undefined
echo $obj2->protected; // Fatal Error
$obj2->printHello(); // Shows Public, Protected2, Undefined

?>

Method Visibility - Class methods may be defined as public, private, or protected. Methods declared without any explicit visibility keyword are defined as public.

Example #2 Method Declaration
/**
 * Define MyClass
 */
class MyClass
{
    // Declare a public constructor
    public function __construct() { }

    // Declare a public method
    public function MyPublic() { }

    // Declare a protected method
    protected function MyProtected() { }

    // Declare a private method
    private function MyPrivate() { }

    // This is public
    function Foo()
    {
        $this->MyPublic();
        $this->MyProtected();
        $this->MyPrivate();
    }
}

$myclass = new MyClass;
$myclass->MyPublic(); // Works
$myclass->MyProtected(); // Fatal Error
$myclass->MyPrivate(); // Fatal Error
$myclass->Foo(); // Public, Protected and Private work


/**
 * Define MyClass2
 */
class MyClass2 extends MyClass
{
    // This is public
    function Foo2()
    {
        $this->MyPublic();
        $this->MyProtected();
        $this->MyPrivate(); // Fatal Error
    }
}

$myclass2 = new MyClass2;
$myclass2->MyPublic(); // Works
$myclass2->Foo2(); // Public and Protected work, not Private

class Bar
{
    public function test() {
        $this->testPrivate();
        $this->testPublic();
    }

    public function testPublic() {
        echo "Bar::testPublic\n";
    }
    
    private function testPrivate() {
        echo "Bar::testPrivate\n";
    }
}

class Foo extends Bar
{
    public function testPublic() {
        echo "Foo::testPublic\n";
    }
    
    private function testPrivate() {
        echo "Foo::testPrivate\n";
    }
}

$myFoo = new foo();
$myFoo->test(); // Bar::testPrivate
                // Foo::testPublic
?>

Visibility from other objects - Objects of the same type will have access to each others private and protected members even though they are not the same instances. This is because the implementation specific details are already known when inside those objects.

Example #3 Accessing private members of the same object type
class Test
{
    private $foo;

    public function __construct($foo)
    {
        $this->foo = $foo;
    }

    private function bar()
    {
        echo 'Accessed the private method.';
    }

    public function baz(Test $other)
    {
        // We can change the private property:
        $other->foo = 'hello';
        var_dump($other->foo);

        // We can also call the private method:
        $other->bar();
    }
}

$test = new Test('test');

$test->baz(new Test('other'));
?>

The above example will output:

string(5) "hello"
Accessed the private method.


Extending classes - An extended class is an shortcut to programming similar objects. It refers to a class that extends the functionality of an existing class. It may also be referred to as a sub-class or child class. As in the example:

class car {
  var $make;
  var $model;
  var $shift_auto;
  var $horsepower;
  var $color;
  var $fuel;
  var $mpg;

  function drive($distance)
  {
     if ($fuel - $distance > 0)
     {
       $fuel -= $distance;
       echo "Driving $distance miles";
     }
     else
       echo "You don't have enough gas to go that far.";
  }

  function refuel($amount)
  {
    $fuel += $amount;
  }

}

The car class gives us some information about the car and the ability to drive and refuel. Now look at this extended class:

class truck extends car {

  var $tow_capacity;
  var $has_hitch;

  function tow_vehicle($car_object)
  {
     return "Towing a " . $car_object->make . " " . $car_object->model;
  }
}

In the extended class, all the functions and variables from the car class are present automatically, but we’ve also added the ability to tow another vehicle.

extends keyword - Often you need classes with similar variables and functions to another existing class. In fact, it is good practice to define a generic class which can be used in all your projects and adapt this class for the needs of each of your specific projects. To facilitate this, classes can be extensions of other classes. The extended or derived class has all variables and functions of the base class (this is called 'inheritance' despite the fact that nobody died) and what you add in the extended definition. It is not possible to subtract from a class, that is, to undefine any existing functions or variables. An extended class is always dependent on a single base class, that is, multiple inheritance is not supported. Classes are extended using the keyword 'extends'.
class Named_Cart extends Cart {
    var $owner;
 
    function set_owner ($name) {
        $this->owner = $name;
    }
}
?>

This defines a class Named_Cart that has all variables and functions of Cart plus an additional variable $owner and an additional function set_owner(). You create a named cart the usual way and can now set and get the carts owner. You can still use normal cart functions on named carts:
$ncart = new Named_Cart;    // Create a named cart
$ncart->set_owner("kris");  // Name that cart
print $ncart->owner;        // print the cart owners name
$ncart->add_item("10", 1);  // (inherited functionality from cart)
?>

This is also called a "parent-child" relationship. You create a class, parent, and use extends to create a new class based on the parent class: the child class. You can even use this new child class and create another class based on this child class.