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Request #40296 "unless" control structure
Submitted: 2007-01-31 12:26 UTC Modified: 2012-07-30 15:00 UTC
Avg. Score:4.3 ± 1.1
Reproduced:60 of 62 (96.8%)
Same Version:48 (80.0%)
Same OS:48 (80.0%)
From: mail at tobyinkster dot co dot uk Assigned:
Status: Wont fix Package: *General Issues
PHP Version: 5.2.0 OS: All
Private report: No CVE-ID: None
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 [2007-01-31 12:26 UTC] mail at tobyinkster dot co dot uk
It would be nice if PHP had an "unless" control structure so that:

    unless (...) { ... }

would be equivalent to:

    if (!(...)) { ... }

Although the "unless" control structure is actually slightly more verbose (in bytes) than "if", it is arguably a lot more readable in the following examples:

    unless ($a==0 || $b==0)


    if (!($a==0 || $b==0))

or, equivalently using De Morgan's Law (Google for it):

    if ($a!=0 && $b!=0)

The "unless" structure uses less punctuation, and more human syntax. I can't imagine how this extra syntax would break any existing scripts.

For what it's worth, Perl already has an "unless" control structure.


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 [2007-12-31 23:19 UTC] michael at chunkycow dot com dot au

Perl has lots of 'features' in it, although I cannot see how an 
'unless' control structure adds to anything but confusion for existing/new developers.
 [2011-06-05 22:47 UTC] mattr dot smith at gmail dot com
I also request this feature. 

Ruby has this structure too and really adds to the readability of code.

I don't see any argument at against this that is valid other than the fact that 
PHP programmers don't want to change.
 [2011-08-04 20:59 UTC] achaia3 at gmail dot com
This would be a convenient feature for sure with no down sides for anybody not wishing to use it.
 [2011-12-30 13:50 UTC] joke at nakhon dot net
I vote against this request. Both perl and ruby's 'unless' confuse me so much. It can be easy to abuse.

I often encounter someone wrote code like this:

unless a != 7
  b = 3
  b = 6
 [2012-07-29 20:00 UTC] email at philsturgeon dot co dot uk
I am surprised to see such a lack of interest on this feature request. 

Ruby and Perl both have "unless", and while that is certainly not a reason on its 
own, it does show that this is used. 

There are two people here saying that unless is confusing. How so? If something 
matches false then do whatever. It has an else too, so if something is true it 
will be used.

The main point here is not to remove a single !, but to make much cleaner syntax.

if ( ! (isset($foo) or ($foo !== 'bar')) exit('invalid value');


unless (isset($foo) and $foo === 'bar') exit('invalid value');

Its a minor difference as I cannot remember a more compelling example, but there 
have been numerous times I have wished to reverse this and have unless instead of 
an extremely complex if statement.

Unless just makes sense, it's optional, it doesn't break BC, it makes syntax 
easier to read in some situations and it is easy to document. If I knew enough C 
I'd send in a patch right now as PHP would be better off for having this.
 [2012-07-29 20:16 UTC]
Any new keyword breaks BC to some extent because it will break any code that has 
an existing unless() function. I agree with others here that unless() can be 
quite confusing. A negated conditional keyword lends itself to double negatives.

It also isn't a very common feature in other languages and definitely not 
obvious to non-native English speaking people like myself. It is an odd word 
that essentially means not-if even though it logically should be equivalent to 
"more" as in the opposite of "more" would be "less" and sticking "un" in front 
of it suddenly completely changes the meaning entirely.
 [2012-07-29 20:16 UTC]
-Status: Open +Status: Wont fix -Package: Feature/Change Request +Package: *General Issues
 [2012-07-29 20:25 UTC] email at philsturgeon dot co dot uk
Thanks for stopping by Rasmus, that was a really quick follow up.

I think you might have pointed out the crux of the confusion: being a native 
English speaker. To me it makes perfect sense, but I am British.

Unless the condition is true, do this.

I like the post:

A new keyword just to replace "if ( ! (condition))" might seem like a hassle, and 
the objective of the game is not always to make PHP "nice", but it is readable and 
logical to many, and is easy to ignore if you don't like it - unless you have 
function unless(), but the chances are that function is doing something similar 
 [2012-07-29 20:36 UTC] hi at brennannovak dot com
I like this idea quite a bit- of course I am a native english speaker as well 
(American), but considering this is used in Ruby & Python the language barrier is  
not too great that it hinders use. Additionally there are *many* abbreviations in 
PHP that consist of multiple "english" words which developers are able to 
understand such as strcmp()

Once I memorize what a group of characters *do* I stop thinking about the words 
that make up the function.
 [2012-07-29 21:35 UTC] kinghfb+php at gmail dot com
The structure adds sugar without necessarily breaking anything (with the exception of existing unless() functions, as Rasmus mentioned). I really don't think the double-negatives argument works here, as we're already doing that with 'if', meaning that the readability is quite low in some cases.

My only concern is that the structure seems to be more easily convoluted than 'if', potentially leading to nightmarish comprehension tasks.
 [2012-07-29 21:42 UTC] email at philsturgeon dot co dot uk
In regards to double negatives, I agree. If I see a developer do this unless a != 
7 then I would block their PR and instantly go and have a talk with them about 
writing sane code.

As for else it really shouldn't be used that much but it should be possible.

unless (foo === 'bar') {
    // do something
else {
    // do something else

Is that really a confusion?

Unlesselse might become a dog though, not sure about that:

unless (foo === 'bar') {
    // do something
unlesselse (foo === 'baz') {
    // do something
else {
    // do something else

At that point you'd just want to be using a switch, but that is the same for if's.

As I said unless should not really use an else, otherwise you'd be better off just 
using an if and swapping it around, but having it doesn't hurt.
 [2012-07-30 13:19 UTC] mail at tobyinkster dot co dot uk
FWIW, while Perl does allow

    unless (foo) { bar }
    else         { baz }

I've never seen it in the wild. I've only ever seen unless used without any trailing else conditions. (And although Perl syntax allows else following unless, it explicitly disallows elsif following unless.) I'd be perfectly happy for PHP to forbid both elseif and else after unless.

> It also isn't a very common feature in other languages 

Latin had "nisi". Modern languages derived from Latin are all the poorer for having lost this concept.

> It is an odd word that essentially means not-if even though 
> it logically should be equivalent to "more" as in the 
> opposite of "more" would be "less" and sticking "un" in
> front of it suddenly completely changes the meaning entirely.

By that logic, uniqid() should return the opposite of the iqid() function.
 [2012-07-30 15:00 UTC]
Now you are just being silly. "uniqid" is "unique id" from the latin root "uni" 
meaning one or singular. Makes perfect sense . It isn't "un" anything.
 [2012-07-30 15:09 UTC] email at philsturgeon dot co dot uk
Rasmus: toby was not suggesting that "uniqid" is the opposite of "iqid", he is 
saying that you can have "un" at the start of a function or keyword without it 
automatically flipping the meaning of the next few letters and confusing people - 
as you suggested in your comment yesterday.

In neither situation does "un" switch the meaning of the following letters, so if 
it is ok for one function/keyword it should be ok for another, right?

I don't want to argue, I just want to make sure people are clear. I would hate to 
see this conversation derailed by confusion or people loudly agreeing.
 [2013-02-20 18:36 UTC] email at philsturgeon dot co dot uk
It looks like this conversation dried up after the rather out-of-context confusion 
over unless somehow meaning "more".

Can we move past that please, as it's a ridiculous non-issue.
 [2013-05-16 20:02 UTC] charlie at gorichanaz dot com
Well, I maintain I would love to see this control structure implemented. I understand a non English speaker might not have the same level of understanding of the word "unless" as a native English speaker, but you can say the same of any other keyword in PHP or any other programming language written in English, and I fail to see how that is a valid argument against its inclusion.
 [2013-06-24 20:33 UTC] craig at clearbooks dot co dot uk
+1 for this language construct it would  be awesome
 [2016-04-24 03:03 UTC] David at Refoua dot me
I am interested in this language construct.
Please make it happen in PHP 7.x variations!
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