PHP’s wonderful pseudo-functions

There is a pseudo-function in PHP called empty, that tells you whether a variable is “empty” for someone’s definition of empty. The empty string, zero, null, and undefined variables are all considered to be empty.

<?php
$x = null;
echo empty($x); // prints "1"
echo empty($nothere); // prints "1"

Well, how did they make it work for undefined variables? They made empty a language construct, not a function, so that its argument isn’t evaluated before the empty check happens. This leads to some great errors:

$x = 0;
echo empty($x); // prints "1"
echo empty(0); // PHP Parse error:  syntax error, unexpected T_LNUMBER in php shell code on line 1

Or better yet,

function y() { return 0; }
echo y(); // prints "0"
echo empty(y()); // PHP Fatal error:  Can't use function return value in write context in php shell code on line 1

PLT is basically magick.

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