OOP PHP: What is the Double Colon in Objects/Classes for?

phpI happen to be the only PHP programmer that I know, so it’s hard to ask your buddy what the heck that :: is used for in some OO PHP programs.  I know you could post it on a forum and get the answer, but I never did.  And Google wasn’t really forth coming when you put :: in a search.  Finally I found it in the PHP documentation:  check out Scope Resolution Operator (::).  In short, it’s used to access Static or Constant members of a class.  Here’s a brief example:

 class DatabaseConnector {
   const CONNECTION_STRING = 'myconnectionstring';

//Referece that connection string constant like so...

So there you go, mystery solved ;-)

In case you’re wondering what the :: is called, it’s a Paamayim Nekudotayim, which is Hebrew for the cryptic phrase: double colon!



8 Responses to OOP PHP: What is the Double Colon in Objects/Classes for?

  1. beanluc March 4, 2009 at 12:54 pm #

    Does it do something that “->” doesn’t do?

    Under what circumstancces do you use “::” but NOT “->”?

    Under what circumstances will either one of them work? With ot without the same result?

  2. Byron Bennett March 4, 2009 at 5:02 pm #

    Hi beanluc,

    Sounds like a test question ;-)

    To use “::”, you need to be accessing static functions or variables, constants, or overridden functions. For a function, you’d need something like:

    public static function showAge(){…}

    then you could access it like: ClassName::showAge();

    When you’re working with an instance of an object, you use ->. In general, you’ll get the same results since you’re mostly working with Constants and static functions and they don’t usually change.

    Check out the link in the article above for a more details.

  3. Monkey April 30, 2009 at 3:27 pm #

    Thanks Byron,

    I do have people I could have asked… but I was too embarassed as I should have found this out a long time ago :-D

    At least now Googling the answer works… thanks to you :-D

  4. Byron Bennett May 1, 2009 at 7:31 am #


    I hear ya! Glad to help!


  5. Daniel May 22, 2009 at 12:44 pm #

    HA! Finally, a good and simple answer! Indeed, I have had such trouble googling “::”. I don’t know why, but something about giving Google a bunch of symbols doesn’t give very good search results.

    Thanks for answering this question, it will come in very handy now that I know what the darn thing is and how to use it! I’ve actually asked people before, but when I ask about “that double colon thingy” I either got blank stares, or some over-technical jabbering that I could not understand.

    Thanks for the great post!

  6. Farhan April 3, 2010 at 12:57 pm #

    Thanks :)

  7. Mario May 12, 2010 at 8:10 pm #

    thanks for posting this. i was wondering too.

  8. yaniv July 15, 2010 at 1:35 am #

    lol, I can speak hebrew so I know the paamayim nekudotaiim thingy, and thanks to you I can use it now :)

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