__toString()

The last magic function you need to know about is __toString(), and allows you to set a string value for the object that will be used if the object is ever used as a string. This is a fairly simple magic function, and works like this:

<?php
    
class cat {
        public function
__toString() {
            return
"This is a cat\n";
        }
    }

    
$toby = new cat;
    print
$toby;
?>

To make this work in PHP 5 caused quite a lot of headaches for the PHP developers - getting the balance right as to when objects should be converted and when they should not took a lot of debating. This feature is quite likely to change in future releases, and if it was not for the fact that it is perfect for use with the SimpleXML extension I really doubt it would have made it into PHP 5 at all.

 

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