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October 13, 2021 03:31 am GMT

Code Smell 93 - Send me Anything

Magic functions that can receive a lot of different (and not polymorphic arguments)

TL;DR: Create a clear contract. Expect just one protocol.



  1. Take just one "kind" of input

  2. Arguments should adhere to a single protocol.

Sample Code


<?function parseArguments($arguments) {    $arguments = $arguments ?: null;    //Always the billion-dollar mistake    if (is_empty($arguments)) {        $this->arguments = http_build_query($_REQUEST);        //Global coupling and side effects    } elseif (is_array($arguments)) {        $this->arguments = http_build_query($arguments);    } elseif (!$arguments) { //null unmasked        $this->arguments = null;    } else {        $this->arguments = (string)$arguments;    }}


<?function parseArguments(array $arguments) {    $this->arguments = $arguments;    //much cleaner, isn't it ?}


We can detect this kind of methods when they do different things, asking for the argument kind


  • If Polluter


Magic castings and flexibility have a price. They put the rubbish under the rug and violate fail fast principle.



Photo by Hennie Stander on Unsplash

Referential transparency is a very desirable property: it implies that functions consistently yield the same results given the same input, irrespective of where and when they are invoked.

Edward Garson

This article is part of the CodeSmell Series.

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