Edd Mann Developer

Accessors (Getter/Setter) and Singleton Traits in PHP

Traits were introduced into the PHP language in 5.4, and from this point many interesting use-cases have appeared. One such instance is the reduction in boilerplate code when prototyping a new idea. Though these should be implemented within the project before completion, I have found using the two traits below to help speed up the development life-cycle.

Accessors (Getter/Setter)

With encapsulation being an incredibly important aspect of Object-oriented programming, accessors and mutator methods provide the user with an interface to interact with a class instance in an controlled manner. However, during the early stages of development creating these methods can be very cumbersome and time consuming. Sure you can let your IDE do all the boilerplate insertion, or maybe we should all move to a language such as C# which has great syntactic sugar for the these properties. The trait below however, dynamically sets and gets instance properties based on the common place method naming pattern. For example, ‘setFirstName’ will set the ‘firstName’ property, where as ‘getFirstName’ will return the instances value.

trait Accessors {

    public function __call($method, $args)
        if ( ! preg_match('/(?P<accessor>set|get)(?P<property>[A-Z][a-zA-Z0-9]*)/', $method, $match) ||
             ! property_exists(__CLASS__, $match['property'] = lcfirst($match['property']))
        ) {
            throw new BadMethodCallException(sprintf(
                "'%s' does not exist in '%s'.", $method, get_class(__CLASS__)

        switch ($match['accessor']) {
            case 'get':
                return $this->{$match['property']};
            case 'set':
                if ( ! $args) {
                    throw new InvalidArgumentException(sprintf("'%s' requires an argument value.", $method));
                $this->{$match['property']} = $args[0];
                return $this;


Looking at the code above you will notice that we use PHP’s ‘__call’ magic method to see if the users invoked method is of interest to us. To keep control of this traits ‘magic’, the call only looks for properties that exist within the class that the trait has been used in. You are however able to replace ‘__CLASS__’ with ‘$this’ to provide the entire classes properties with these capabilities, but I found this restriction beneficial when refactoring the code-base. Below is an example use-case for including this trait.

class User {
    use Accessors;
    private $name, $age;

$user = new User();
$user->setName('Joe Bloggs');

sprintf("Name: %s, Age: %s\n", $user->getName(), $user->getAge()); // Name: Joe Bloggs, Age: 24


Another trait that I have found very useful in the initial stages of development is for implementing the Singleton pattern. Below is an example implementation which on the first ‘getInstance’ invocation creates a class instance with the provided arguments.

trait Singleton {

    protected static $instance;

    final public static function getInstance()
        if ( ! isset(self::$instance)) {
            $class = new ReflectionClass(__CLASS__);
            self::$instance = $class->newInstanceArgs(func_get_args());

        return self::$instance;

    final private function __clone() { }

    final private function __wakeup() { }


The code snippet above uses the ReflectionClass provided by PHP to enable classes it is incorporated into still define a unique constructor method. Below is an example that highlights the trait in action.

class Logger {
    use Singleton;

    private $init;

    public function __construct($init)
        $this->init = $init;

    public function getInitTime()
        return $this->init;


$logger = Logger::getInstance(time());

$logger->getInitTime(); // 1390901816