“dynamic” keyword and PHP objects

We’ve already demonstrated, how to use PHP scripts from within a .NET application using Phalanger. For reference you can take a look at PHP as a scripting language for C# article or Standard mode interoperability tutorial. In this way we can take an existing PHP web or a library, load them into C# context and reuse their functions, classes, constants or global variables. In addition we can even define new functions and classes in C# and inject them into PHP, so the code in PHP seamlessly uses these declarations as they would be declared in PHP too.

EDIT: Phalanger 3.0 removes all the limitations mentioned below.

In this post I would like to show you, how to easily reuse objects defined in PHP code from C# environment – by using “dynamic” keyword introduced in C# 4. Since Phalanger translates PHP classes into general .NET types, the usage is very intuitive. However there is one catch …

For this demo, I have prepared ASP.NET application, that loads PHP scripts. First it loads a PHP script into C# context:

context.Include("script.php", false);

This “runs” script.php, and as a result context contains all the PHP declarations. At this point, you can e.g. take a look on context.DeclaredTypes, and list declared PHP types.

Now we can instantiate a PHP type, and take advantage of the dynamic keyword. Following statement instantiates a PHP class “X”, and passes its reference into a C# dynamic variable:

dynamic x = context.NewObject("X");

Then we can call methods on X class as we are used to. C# compiler automatically implements polymorphic inline cache (the same as we used in Phalanger compiler earlier) in run time, to determine what method should be called and to cache the call, so repetitious calls are executed faster.

var result = x.bar(context, 11);

You can notice the additional first argument here which is the only catch you should keep in mind. Phalanger requires the current context to be passed as the first argument in every method call. It is used later internally, mostly to enhance runtime performance.

EDIT: Phalanger 3.0 does not require the context to be passed.

Limitations (Phalanger 2.1)

Since this is the fastest way how to call PHP methods from C# context, several internal conversions between PHP and .NET world are skipped. It means you should only pass PHP/Phalanger compatible types as an argument: int, long, bool, string, PHP.Core.PhpBytes, PHP.Core.PhpArray and PHP.Core.Reflection.DObject (base class for all PHP objects, so any other PHP class instance is allowed).


In this post I have demonstrated how to take advantage of the “dynamic” keyword in C# so you can intuitively use your PHP objects in C# application. Please download attached ASP.NET demo to see it working. In addition to that, Phalanger allows many other ways of interoperability, e.g. the strongly typed Duck Typing.

This entry was posted in Blog, CodeProject, DLR, interoperability, Phalanger by Jakub Míšek. Bookmark the permalink.

About Jakub Míšek

Jakub graduated Software Engineering at Faculty of Mathematics and Physics at Charles University in Prague, Czech Republic. His academic work involved data semantization, compilers, integration and automatized processing of web data and utilizing of development processes in dynamic languages. Beside other things, Jakub is developer of open-source PHP language compiler called Phalanger.

6 thoughts on ““dynamic” keyword and PHP objects

  1. Interesting.

    I’m in no way C# developer, but Phalanger sounds interesting so I’ve looked in the wiki and found out in the introduction that Phalanger: “compile[s] the PHP scripts into .NET assemblies – logical units containing MSIL code and meta-data.”

    But I’m curious, because I haven’t seen it in you example. Is this class use compatible with PHP classes that make excessive use of magic methods as __invoke, __call, __set, __get, __sleep, __wakeup ?

    • It’s great question, I should make note in the post.

      These magic methods are contained in compiled class too as any other methods, so you can call them directly.

      However Phalanger handles their special meaning in PHP source code only (serialize(), $x->foo(), $x->prop, …). In C#, it is not enabled yet – we have to just implement IDynamicMetaObjectProvider for PHP objects – so “dynamic” in C# will take advantage of PHP semantics too.

    • Hi,
      It is ASP.NET 4.0 web site, so you can open it from Visual Studio 2010 (File->Open->WebSite) or copy it into your IIS wwwroot. Note it requires Phalanger and ASP.NET 4 to be installed.