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exception – Best practices: Use of @throws in php-doc, and how it could be handle

Posted by: admin April 23, 2020 Leave a comment

Questions:

Let’s say I have a class with a method like this:

/*
 *
 * Loads the user from username.
 *
 * @param string $username The username
 *
 * @return UserInterface
 *
 * @throws userNotFoundException if the user is not found
 */
public function getUser($username)
{
    // someFunction return an UserInterface class if found, or null if not.
    $user = someFunction('SELECT ....', $username);
    if ($user === null) {
        throw new userNotFoundException();
    }

    return $user
}

Now let’s say that someFunction could throw a InvalidArgumentException / RuntimeException / PDOException for XYZ reasons. What should I do? And what not?

Number 1

Add all the possible exceptions that could throw someFunction in php-docs.

/*
 *
 * Loads the user from username.
 *
 * @param string $username The username
 *
 * @return UserInterface
 *
 * @throws userNotFoundException if the user is not found
 * @throws InvalidArgumentException
 * @throws ...
 */

Number 2

Add a try-catch block to ensure that the method should throw exceptions ONLY documented

/*
 *
 * Loads the user from username.
 *
 * @param string $username The username
 *
 * @return UserInterface
 *
 * @throws userNotFoundException if the user is not found
 * @throws RuntimeException 
 */
public function getUser($username)
{
    try {
        $user = someFunction('SELECT ....', $username);
    } catch (Exception $e) {
        throw new RuntimeException();
    }

    if ($user === null) {
        throw new userNotFoundException();
    }

    return $user
}

Number 3

Don’t do anything.

How to&Answers:

Personally I would consider treating @throws similar to Java’s checked exceptions

The way this works in Java is that basically exceptions that inherit from RuntimeException can be thrown and don’t have to be handled. Any other types of exceptions must have a try-catch block to handle them. This handling code must be in the caller.

Basically in PHP kinda like this:

When a method has a @throws annotation, you have to add code to handle its exceptions.

Any exceptions that don’t get mentioned are optional for handling in the calling code.


Now, I don’t 100% follow this principle myself. The whole handling exceptions thing is sort of up to the programmer’s preference, but this is just some thoughts on how I think it could be handled in a reasonable fashion.

Answer:

With regards to documentation, if a function explicitly throws an exception then it should be included in the function’s documentation. Thus, for each throw statement, there should be a corresponding @throws in the PHP documentation.

With regards to handling, if there are some operations that should be executed when the exception is thrown then catch it. Otherwise, let it bubble up — provided there is a catch statement going to handle it later.

Update:

A few years later, I have changed to the opinion that one should only let an exception “bubble up” unmodified when the exception is still relevant to the module’s level of abstraction. Catch and re-throw strategies should be employed to make the exception more meaningful. It should also make error handling more secure by avoiding unnecessary disclosure of information about modules underlying the abstraction.

/**
 * @throws UserNotFoundException
 */
public function getUser($username)
{
    try {
        $user = someFunction('SELECT ....', $username);
    } catch (DatabaseException $dbe) {

        /* Re-throw since a database exception may no longer be
         * meaningful to the caller.
         */
        throw new UserNotFoundException();
    }

    return $user
}

Answer:

From a documentation maintenance point of view, I would only be adding the @throw lines for exceptions that are specifically thrown otherwise you will quickly get your documentation out of date.

Answer:

Number two, but perhaps throw before return since throw actions will occur before a return…