@Zeev: That topic was related to an already built patch, which some
where in favor, some against. That discussion lead to nowhere.
So I opened a thread topic by topic for some democracy approval. As
soon as we reach some reasonable consensus, we can start another patch
implementation based on what we end up with this thread.

If result of the poll says "OK" to meta attribute, then we can discuss
next topic (possible implementations).
Until then, I'd rather appreciate everyone to stick to their votes
instead of revamp another discussion that lead to nothing.

BTW, I forgot to add my vote:

On Mon, Nov 15, 2010 at 8:22 PM, Zeev Suraski wrote:
I don't see a point in repeating the discussion we've already had on that topic several weeks ago.  There needs to be an overwhelmingly good reason to add a brand new syntax to the language, a whole branch of it in the case of annotations - and there simply isn't.

-----Original Message-----
From: [email protected]
Sent: Monday, November 15, 2010 7:08 PM
To: PHP internals
Subject: [PHP-DEV] PHP 5.4 - Meta attribute (aka. Annotations) support

Hi folks,

I'll start a series of topics (in this thread) about meta attribute (aka.
Annotations) discussion.
So as soon as we agree on each topic I'll open another point to be discussed.
Only when we reach some consensus I'll open another topic discussion.
I suggest to have a poll for each topic, so we can do some democratic
internals decision. I'd reduce the scope of voters to only people with PHP

The first topic to be defined is: Does PHP need meta attribute support?

Any language is built at the top of syntax, words, semantics and context.
We cannot define it as a language if we don't have these 4 parts well fit
For a simple sentence like: I am all ears, we can easily identify these parts.
But the real meaning of this sentence (context) is only achieved with another
part of the language: signifier-significate.
A signifier is an atomic form, material element, visible, sensitive.
A significate is an idea, semantic content, conceptual element, not sensitive

This important part is only reminded when we get back to semantics,
specifically when talking about idiomatic expressions, a metaphor in our
sample. The meaning will only work if we have the context, a known
information. Our sentence would mean that spoker person only have ears,
while the true meaning is that he/she is paying attention.
A computer language doesn't differ from a language by any means. We have
tokens (words), a syntax, semantic. But the lack of contextualization brings a
hole on language and how your application should behave. This behavior can
be achieved by many different ways; the simplest way is known as meta

Considering you have a lack of idiomatic expressions knowledge of someone
that is reading. He'd think person only have ears, but if you meta notify him
that it is a metaphor, he'd try to find a different meaning. Example:
(Metaphor) I am all ears.

Now that we find how meta-information can benefit languages, it is time to
understand how meta-information can benefit a computer language.

A good example is define a Service that validates Domain Objects.
Imagining a scenario where you have a User class that holds email and
password. Email and password fields must be validated, for example, email
as an email and password with at least 6 chars. A generic validation service
could not have the User validation hardcoded inside the service, so the
solution would be an external factor that explains to service how to validate
the DO. One of the possible implementations would be a UserValidator class
that contains validation rules for each field. This external factor is a good
sample of meta-information. But how would a meta attribute would solve
this situation?
A Service could simple retrieve the validation instructions by Reflecting the
class which instance is going to be validated.
Basically, to validate a Domain Object, it is simply required to add validation
rules on desired attributes. Example:

class User {
<Email Meta Information>
protected $email;

<At least 6 chars Meta Information>
protected $password;

*NOTE*: Please understand that this do not enter in any implementation
details. It is not time (yet) to talk baout docblock, new syntax, etc.
Scope now is simpler than that.

Now that is possible to see how meta attribute support could benefit a
language, I compiled a simple list of known projects and how can they
benefit of meta support:
- phpUnit Providing meta functionality for test cases, examples:
@dataProvider for test data iteration, @expectedException for catching
exceptions, etc.
- Doctrine For Object-Relational mapping, examples: @Entity, @OneToOne,
@Id, etc.
- Zend Framework Server classes Used to automate mappings for XML-RPC,
SOAP, etc.
- FLOW3 for dependency injection and validation
- Symfony2 for validation and routing rules
- Others: Validation, Functional Behavior injection (which could take
advantage of Traits), etc.

Poll will be opened for voting for 7 days (1 week) starting from now.
Poll will be closed next Monday at 5pm GMT.
Question: Does PHP need meta attribute support?

Happy voting!

Guilherme Blanco
Mobile: +55 (16) 9215-8480
MSN: [email protected]
São Paulo - SP/Brazil

PHP Internals - PHP Runtime Development Mailing List To unsubscribe, visit:

Guilherme Blanco
Mobile: +55 (16) 9215-8480
MSN: [email protected]
São Paulo - SP/Brazil

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