PHP Conditional assignment operators

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? ? ?


The use of this type of operators is to assign the value of a variable depending on a condition.

The conditional assignment operators are:

  • the thernary operator
  • the null coalescing operator (introduced in PHP version 7)

What decides which value will the variable get, when using a conditional assignment operators?

Thernary Operator

The thernary operator will assign the value of a variable after evaluating a statement. If the statement it's true, it will try return  its left side to the variable, else it will return the right side.

Name Operator Example Result
Thernary ? : $a = statement1 ? stament2 : statement3

Will assign the value of statement2 if stament1 is true

Will assign the value of statement3 if statement1 is false


$product_type = 'clothes';
$tax_percentage = $product_type === 'food' ?  10 : 20;
// will output 20 since the condition was evaluate as false and so it return the right side value

$product_price = 200;
$apply_promotion = $product_price > 150 ? true : false;
will output true, as the condition was evaluated as true and the variable received the value from the the left

What's the output of the following script?


$a = 5;

$a = !$a ? 10 : 15;

$a = ($a === 12) ? $a*2 : $a*3;

echo $a;

Null coalescing operator

The null coalescing operator will set the value of a variable by evaluating one by one the statements  separated by ??.

Name Operator Example Result
Null coalescing operator ?? $a = statement1 ?? statement2 The variable $a will get the value of $statement1 if it exists and is not null, else it will get the value of $statement2

$first_name = 'Joe';
$last_name = 'Johnny';

$contact_name = $first_name ?? $last_name;
echo $contact_name;
it will output the value of $first_name, since it was defined and not null

$book_third = 'Foundation - Asimov';
$bought_book = $book_one ?? $book_two ?? $book_third;
echo $bought_book;
will output the value of the variable $book_third, since the other two variables are not defined

In which statements the variable $a will have the value 'php tutorial'?


$x = null;
$y = '';
$z = 'php tutorial';