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To use { or not to use { - that is the question

Posted on 2016-09-09
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Last Modified: 2016-09-09
Since I started learning php recently, I always use { after IF. For example:

if ($_SERVER['REQUEST_METHOD'] == "POST") {
            echo "okay";
      }

I was watching a tutorial the other day and noticed that the person did not use those braces e.g.:

if ($_SERVER['REQUEST_METHOD'] == "POST")
            echo "okay";
      
I tried this myself and the code still worked. I am confused now as to whether I need the braces or not if I don't have an else to add afterwards. I would rather use the braces always so I don't forget about them but just wondered if it is okay to do so even if there isn't an ELSE accompanying the IF.
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Question by:Black Sulfur
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Marco Gasi earned 500 total points
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If the command i only one you could avoid them, but if you have many lines of code to execute if the condition is true then parenthesis are mandatory. Personally I always use them, even if the line code to run is only one as in your example because they make more readable the code and help me to understand without any doubt which code runs if a condition is true and which code runs anyway.
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by:Ray Paseur
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What Marco said.  He earned the points.

These things are usually dictated by a "coding standard" that is probably prescribed by your clients or employer.  Coding standards have important effects on things like automated documentation tools.

I always do what the paying customer says!
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by:gr8gonzo
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My recommendation is ALWAYS use braces! ALWAYS!

1. Always assume someone else will come along and have to work on code that you wrote. Let's say someone else comes along and is debugging your code and does this:

if ($_SERVER['REQUEST_METHOD'] == "POST")
           file_put_contents("debug.log","Request method was POST\n");
            echo "okay";

Their additional line of code now breaks the logic and now "okay" will be echo-ed, no matter what the REQUEST_METHOD is. However, the indenting makes it sort of look like the "echo" line is still conditional, even though it's not anymore. So without braces, it makes it much easier for code to be broken accidentally.

2. Many code editors rely on braces to allow you to expand/collapse code. They'll even highlight matching braces so you can easily tell where a block of code begins and ends. Without braces, most editors can't tell that it's a conditional line. Some editors might even think it's bad code or not realize where the block ends properly!

3. Many code parsers / beautifiers rely on braces.

4. Developers who know other languages but are new to PHP may not realize that it's a conditional statement without braces, so it helps other people to read PHP code.

5. There's really no advantage to NOT using braces except to spare a couple of keystrokes here and there.

Sometimes if I'm doing "quick conditional lines", I'll do it all on one line but I'll still use braces, which can make those kinds of lines much easier to visible parse/read and move around:

if($debugMode) { echo __LINE__ . " :: Hello world!\n"; }
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