What is Enumerations(Enums) in PHP 8.1? Enums in PHP v8.1 Explained in detail with examples.

Harish Kumar · · 2969 Views

PHP 8.1 added many new features, and Enumerations (Enum) is our favourite new feature. Enumerations (or enums for short) allow us to define a new structure similar to a class however that can only hold a set of allowed values.

In this article, we’ll see the PHP v8.1 Enum feature, what is pure and backed cases in Enum, and the difference between regular Classes and Enums.

Basic Syntax

PHP 8.1 uses the enum keyword to declare Enums. The syntax is similar to a trait, class, interface syntax. Here is what a simple enum looks like:

enum PostStatus {
    case Draft;
    case InReview;
    case Published;

The case keyword is used to describe the specific values the Enum accepts. The Enum cases are referenced in the same way as class constants:

$published = PostStatus::Published;

The advantage of enums is that they address a collection of constant values. Enums act in basically the same manner as classes and interfaces. So, you can type-hint that a function only accepts a value defined in an enum:

class PostService
       public static function get(PostStatus $status)

In this example, you can pass the Enum to PostService::get() method that looks like this:

$posts = PostService::get(PostStatus::Published);

Pure Enums

By default, Enumerated Cases have no scalar equivalent. They are simply singleton objects. So, if a case in Enum has no assigned value is called a pure case. And the Enum contains pure cases is called Pure Enum.

The PostStatus above is pure Enum. It contains only case statements, with no extra data.

Backed Enums:

You can also attach a scalar value to enum cases, called backed cases. And the Enum contains backed cases called Backed Enum.

enum PostStatus: string
    case Draft = "draft";
    case InReview = "in_review";
    case Published = "published";

Here the PostStatus enum has been modified to create a backed enum.

Here are a few rules for backed Enums:

  1.  It must declare the scalar type at the Enum declaration. And only string or int is allowed.

  2. It must assign a value for all cases.

  3. The values assigned to each case must be of the same scalar type.

  4. It must not contain duplicate cases or duplicate values.

Pure vs Backed Enums

Both pure enums and backed enums have a read-only property called name, which returns the case-sensitive name of the case itself:

echo PostStatus::Draft->name; // Draft

Backed enums, however, have an additional read-only property called value that returns the scalar value of the case:

echo PostStatus::Draft->value; // draft

Scalar Value to Enum

At the point when we want to get from the scalar value back to the Enum for that, we can utilize the from() method. This method takes the string or integer value and converts it back to the Enum.

$draftStatus = PostStatus::from('draft');

If a value is passed that does not match the allowed values there will be a fatal error.

$draftStatus = PostStatus::from(100); // PHP fatal error

The above code will give PHP a fatal error because the value "100" is not present in the PostStatus enum.

To make this safer PHP 8.1 gives us a tryFrom() method that will return null instead of throwing an error.

$draftStatus = PostStatus::from(100); // null

Listing enum values

You can use the static Enum::cases() method to get a list of all available cases inside an enum. This method returns an array containing the actual enum objects:


Class/object functions and instanceof

Enums act like classes when they are utilized with functions that help inspect classes and objects.

For instance, gettype(), is_a(), is_object(), and get_class() functions act as though an Enum is a standard PHP object.

gettype(PostStatus::Draft); // "object"

is_object(PostStatus::Draft); // true
is_a(PostStatus::Draft, PostStatus::InReview); // true

get_class(PostStatus::Published); // "PostStatus"

PostStatus::InReview instanceof PostStatus; // true
PostStatus::InReview instanceof UnitEnum; // true

Enums allow methods

Enums may contain methods. They also support standard method visibility modifiers as well as static methods.

For example, declaring a label(): string method that returns a user-friendly label for an enum case.

enum PostStatus: int
    case Draft = 0;
    case InReview = 1;
    case Published = 2;

    public function label()
        return match($this) {
            self::Draft => 'Draft',
            self::InReview => 'In Review',
            self::Published => 'Published',

Enums must not contain properties

One of the main distinctions between an Enum and a class is that Enums cannot have any state/properties. Declaring properties is not allowed in Enums.

enum Foo {
    private string $test;
    private static string $test2;
/* Fatal error: Enums may not include properties ... */

Instantiating with new is not allowed

Although Enum cases themselves are objects, it is not allowed to instantiate them with the new construct.

enum Foo {
    case Bar;

new Foo(); 
/* Fatal error: Uncaught Error: Cannot instantiate ... */

Comparing Enum Values

As we already learned, Enums cases are as objects. In fact, those are singleton objects. That implies that you can do comparisons with them like so:

new stdClass() === new stdClass(); // false
PostStatus::Draft === PostStatus::Draft; // true

Disallowed magic methods

Enums disallow implementing several magic methods:

  1. __get()

  2. __set()

  3. __construct()

  4. __destruct()

  5. __clone()

  6. __sleep()

  7. __wakeup()

  8. __set_state()

Magic constants

Enums completely support all magic constants that PHP upholds for classes.

  1. ::class

  2. __CLASS__

  3. __FUNCTION__

  4. __METHOD__

Classes vs Enums




class Foo {}

enum Foo {}


Static Properties


Static Methods

Instantiating: new Foo()

Implement interfaces

Inheritance: Foo extends Bar

Magic Constants


✔ (without properties)


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