3 PHP 5.5 features we are using at Namshi

Here at Namshi we are constanty updating our software stack to exploit the best benefits latest technology has to offer. Keeping up to date with the latest stable version of PHP, we are using PHP 5.5 for some time now. We also leverage the new features added in PHP 5.5; this post will shed light on some of the features that have come in handy during our development process.

PHP 5.4 and PHP 5.5 both were feature packed PHP releases, we have found 3 of these features useful in our routine PHP development which are discussed below:

array_column function

The short array syntax was introduced in PHP 5.4, which makes creating arrays simpler than the old syntax.

$productIds = [1001, 1005, 1007];

//array with keys and values
$products = [
    ["title" => "Vito Solo Shirt", "sku" => "VI714AT94SIB", "price" => 180.00],
    ["title" => "Core Ultra Shirt", "sku" => "JA872AT40VYL" , "price" => 195.00],
    ["title" => "Swoosh T-shirt", "sku" => "NI727AT17RGG" , "price" => 130.00]

For arrays like in the above example or for result sets from a database query, the array_column PHP function comes in very handy to extract out the needed data as shown below:

$productTitles = array_column($products, "title");

//product titles will be a new array of titles extacted from products array in above example code
    [0] => Vito Solo Shirt
    [1] => Core Ultra Shirt
    [2] => Swoosh T-shirt

//if you want to create a key value array where key is the sku and value is the price, it can be done by the following call

$productPrices = array_column($products, "price", "sku");

    [VI714AT94SIB] => 180
    [JA872AT40VYL] => 195
    [NI727AT17RGG] => 130

The PHP array_colum function is an easy yet effective way to extract out needed informaton from an array which will make working with PHP arrays pleasant than usual.


Finally, the finally keyword has been added to PHP, as mentioned in the exceptions documentation on the PHP website:

Code within the finally block will always be executed after the try and catch blocks, regardless of whether an exception has been thrown, and before normal execution resumes.

This makes a very good use case when some code needs to be executed if an exception occurs and return has to be called. A typical example is closing the database connection:

try {
     //open sql connection 
     if ($condition) { 
        return false;
  finally {
    //close the sql connection, this will be executed even if the return is called.

There are other use cases of finally, still beware of using it as you might find out your exception has been silenced. Use finally with care and utilize it where needed.


The DateTimeImmutable class is useful if you want the date time to stay the same for the execution context. The main instance is never modified but returns a new object instead for any operation like adding date. It works very well when you want to save the created_at and updated_at date time columns in the database.

An example to show that even adding date to DateTimeImmutable class does not change it:

$date           = new DateTimeImmutable();
$datePlusOneDay = $date->add(new DateInterval('P1D'));

print $date->format('Y-M-d H:i:s');
print "---";
print $datePlusOneDay->format('Y-M-d H:i:s');

//2014-May-07 22:37:04---2014-May-08 22:37:04

Another example for the created_at and updated_at use case:

//in some entity class in the setCreatedAt method
$this->createdAt = new DateTimeImmutable();

//in some entity class in some prePresist method
$this->updatedAt = new DateTimeImmutable();

There are lots of resources mentioning the new features of PHP 5.4 and PHP 5.5, I hope mentioning this useful subset helps you utilize them to solve issues.

Posted in php