DecisionAlways use typehints in new PHP code


Following stricter typing where available can significantly reduce bugs, and simplify maintainability. This has been proven by several studies across different disciplines.

See Case study after adding type hints to urllib3, and To type or not to type: quantifying detectable bugs in JavaScript. To quote the latter:

Both Flow and TypeScript are pretty good, and conservatively either of them can prevent about 15% of the bugs that end up in committed code.


We will use type hints in all the new PHP code we write. According to the official documentation this includes:

  • Type hints in class properties.
  • Type hints for class method parameters and return types.
  • Type hints for procedural function parameters and return types.

Depending on the PHP version the project uses, support may vary. All these are available in PHP 7.4 and newer.


Type hints can apply to procedural and object-oriented code.

 * Implements hook_jsonapi_entity_filter_access().
function my_module_jsonapi_entity_filter_access(EntityTypeInterface $entity_type, AccountInterface $account): array {}

Note how you can implement a hook or an interface and provide return types even if the hook definition or the interface does not declare one. This is not possible with parameter arguments.

From the documentation:

When overriding a parent method, the child's method must match any return type declaration on the parent. If the parent doesn't define a return type, then the child method may do so.

The following example illustrates a PHP class with type hints.


namespace Foo;

final class ExampleClass {
 private string $name = '';
 public function greet(
   string $prefix,
   boolean $isGrumpy,
   Account $user = NULL
 ): ?string {
   return $isGrumpy
     ? null
     : sprintf('Hello %s', $account->userName ?? $this->name);

Refer to the PHP documentation to learn more about type hints, scalar type hints, and nullable types.


The PHP code we write will be more maintainable, and less prone to have bugs. This will lead to higher efficiency.

Andrew Berry, Mateu Aguiló Bosch

Decided on