How to define an empty object in PHP

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  • In: Basic PHP

with a new array I do this:

$aVal = array();

$aVal[key1][var1] = "something";
$aVal[key1][var2] = "something else";

Is there a similar syntax for an object

(object)$oVal = "";

$oVal->key1->var1 = "something";
$oVal->key1->var2 = "something else";
This Question Has 16 Answeres | Orginal Question | ed209

You can try this way also.

     $obj = json_decode("{}"); 


object(stdClass)#1 (0) { }

As others have pointed out, you can use stdClass. However I think it is cleaner without the (), like so:

$obj = new stdClass;

However based on the question, it seems like what you really want is to be able to add properties to an object on the fly. You don't need to use stdClass for that, although you can. Really you can use any class. Just create an object instance of any class and start setting properties. I like to create my own class whose name is simply o with some basic extended functionality that I like to use in these cases and is nice for extending from other classes. Basically it is my own base object class. I also like to have a function simply named o(). Like so:

class o {
  // some custom shared magic, constructor, properties, or methods here

function o() {
  return new o;

If you don't like to have your own base object type, you can simply have o() return a new stdClass. One advantage is that o is easier to remember than stdClass and is shorter, regardless of if you use it as a class name, function name, or both. Even if you don't have any code inside your o class, it is still easier to memorize than the awkwardly capitalized and named stdClass (which may invoke the idea of a 'sexually transmitted disease class'). If you do customize the o class, you might find a use for the o() function instead of the constructor syntax. It is a normal function that returns a value, which is less limited than a constructor. For example, a function name can be passed as a string to a function that accepts a callable parameter. A function also supports chaining. So you can do something like: $result= o($internal_value)->some_operation_or_conversion_on_this_value();

This is a great start for a base "language" to build other language layers upon with the top layer being written in full internal DSLs. This is similar to the lisp style of development, and PHP supports it way better than most people realize. I realize this is a bit of a tangent for the question, but the question touches on what I think is the base for fully utilizing the power of PHP.

I love how easy is to create objects of anonymous type in JavaScript:

var myObj = {
    foo: "Foo value",
    bar: "Bar value"
console.log(; //Output: Foo value

So I always try to write this kind of objects in PHP like javascript does:

//PHP >= 5.4
$myObj = (object) [
    "foo" => "Foo value",
    "bar" => "Bar value"

//PHP < 5.4
$myObj = (object) array(
    "foo" => "Foo value",
    "bar" => "Bar value"

echo $myObj->foo; //Output: Foo value

But as this is basically an array you can't do things like assign anonymous functions to a property like js does:

var myObj = {
    foo: "Foo value",
    bar: function(greeting) {
        return greeting + " bar";
console.log("Hello")); //Output: Hello bar

//PHP >= 5.4
$myObj = (object) [
    "foo" => "Foo value",
    "bar" => function($greeting) {
        return $greeting . " bar";
var_dump($myObj->bar("Hello")); //Throw 'undefined function' error
var_dump($myObj->bar); //Output: "object(Closure)"

Well, you can do it, but IMO isn't practical / clean:

$barFunc = $myObj->bar;
echo $barFunc("Hello"); //Output: Hello bar

Also, using this synthax you can find some funny surprises, but works fine for most cases.

In addition to zombat's answer if you keep forgetting stdClass

function object(){

        return new stdClass();


Now you can do:


The standard way to create an "empty" object is:

$oVal = new stdClass();

But, with PHP >= 5.4, I personally prefer to use:

$oVal = (object)[];

It's shorter and I personally consider it clearer because stdClass could be misleading to novice programmers (i.e. "Hey, I want an object, not a class!"...).

The same with PHP < 5.4 is:

$oVal = (object) array();

(object)[] is equivalent to new stdClass().

See the PHP manual (here):

stdClass: Created by typecasting to object.

and (here):

If an object is converted to an object, it is not modified. If a value of any other type is converted to an object, a new instance of the stdClass built-in class is created.

However remember that empty($oVal) returns false, as @PaulP said:

Objects with no properties are no longer considered empty.

Regarding your example, if you write:

$oVal = new stdClass();
$oVal->key1->var1 = "something"; // PHP creates  a Warning here
$oVal->key1->var2 = "something else";

PHP creates the following Warning, implicitly creating the property key1 (an object itself)

Warning: Creating default object from empty value

This could be a problem if your configuration (see error reporting level) shows this warning to the browser. This is another entire topic, but a quick and dirty approach could be using the error control operator (@) to ignore the warning:

$oVal = new stdClass();
@$oVal->key1->var1 = "something"; // the warning is ignored thanks to @
$oVal->key1->var2 = "something else"; said it is best:

$new_empty_object = new stdClass();
$x = new stdClass();

A comment in the manual sums it up best:

stdClass is the default PHP object. stdClass has no properties, methods or parent. It does not support magic methods, and implements no interfaces.

When you cast a scalar or array as Object, you get an instance of stdClass. You can use stdClass whenever you need a generic object instance.

to access data in a stdClass in similar fashion you do with an asociative array just use the {$var} syntax.

$myObj = new stdClass;
$myObj->Prop1 = "Something";
$myObj->Prop2 = "Something else";

// then to acces it directly

echo $myObj->{'Prop1'};
echo $myObj->{'Prop2'};

// or what you may want

echo $myObj->{$myStringVar};

If you don't want to do this:

$myObj = new stdClass();
$myObj->key_1 = 'Hello';
$myObj->key_2 = 'Dolly';

You can use one of the following:

PHP >=5.4

$myObj = (object) [
    'key_1' => 'Hello',
    'key_3' => 'Dolly',

PHP <5.4

$myObj = (object) array(
    'key_1' => 'Hello',
    'key_3' => 'Dolly',

If you want to create object (like in javascript) with dynamic properties, without receiving a warning of undefined property.

class stdClass {

public function __construct(array $arguments = array()) {
    if (!empty($arguments)) {
        foreach ($arguments as $property => $argument) {
                $this->{$argument} = null;
                $this->{$property} = $argument;

public function __call($method, $arguments) {
    $arguments = array_merge(array("stdObject" => $this), $arguments); // Note: method argument 0 will always referred to the main class ($this).
    if (isset($this->{$method}) && is_callable($this->{$method})) {
        return call_user_func_array($this->{$method}, $arguments);
    } else {
        throw new Exception("Fatal error: Call to undefined method stdObject::{$method}()");

public function __get($name){
    if(property_exists($this, $name)):
        return $this->{$name};
        return $this->{$name} = null;

public function __set($name, $value) {
    $this->{$name} = $value;


$obj1 = new stdClass(['property1','property2'=>'value']); //assign default property
echo $obj1->property1;//null
echo $obj1->property2;//value

$obj2 = new stdClass();//without properties set
echo $obj2->property1;//null

We can simply create an empty object by using this method:

$object = new ObjectClass();

For example:

class ObjectClass
    // Something goes here

$object = new ObjectClass();

Now we have variable $object that is an ObjectClass but empty. Note if it contains function __construct(), then it might not be empty.

I know it's an old question but it seems that some people forget about constructors.

Here an example with the iteration:

$colors = (object)[];
$colors->red = "#F00";
$colors->slateblue = "#6A5ACD";
$colors->orange = "#FFA500";

foreach ($colors as $key => $value) : ?>
    <p style="background-color:<?=$value ?>">
        <?= $key ?> -> <?= $value ?>
<?php endforeach; ?>

You have this bad but usefull technic:

$var = json_decode(json_encode([]), FALSE);

You can use new stdClass() (which is recommended):

$obj_a = new stdClass();
$obj_a->name = "John";

// outputs:
// stdClass Object ( [name] => John )

Or you can convert an empty array to an object which produces a new empty instance of the stdClass built-in class:

$obj_b = (object) [];
$obj_b->name = "John";

// outputs: 
// stdClass Object ( [name] => John )

Or you can convert the null value to an object which produces a new empty instance of the stdClass built-in class:

$obj_c = (object) null;
$obj_c->name = "John";

// outputs:
// stdClass Object ( [name] => John )

Use a generic object and map key value pairs to it.

$oVal = new stdClass();
$oVal->key = $value

Or cast an array into an object

$aVal = array( 'key'=>'value' );
$oVal = (object) $aVal;

I want to point out that in PHP there is no such thing like empty object in sense:

$obj = new stdClass();
var_dump(empty($obj)); // bool(false)

but of course $obj will be empty.

On other hand empty array mean empty in both cases

$arr = array();

Quote from changelog function empty

Objects with no properties are no longer considered empty.

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