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How can I write an if statement if one value is null?

  • # July 14, 2013 at 8:25 pm

    @CrocoDillon I’m grabbing the last value in an array. So there will either be a `movie->title` or `show-title`. There can’t be both and neither one can be empty. One of them will return with a title string.

    I’m trying to simplify an if/elseif.

    ####Current code:

    $trakt = $data->activity[0];

    if(empty($trakt->movie->title)) {
    $title = $trakt->movie->title;
    } elseif(empty($trakt->show->title)) {
    $title = $trakt->show->title;
    } else {
    $title = “None”;

    Basically do this (if it was valid):

    Let’s say the last thing I watched was a `movie`.

    IF $trakt->movie->title OR $trakt->show->title is empty then, $title = whichever isn’t empty

    The result would be the value of `$trakt->movie->title` since I watched a `movie` last. Not a `show`.

    # July 14, 2013 at 8:45 pm

    [Beware PHP Sadness](

    Note that when “nesting” ternary operators (i.e., one `?` inside another), you can quite easily end up with _exactly_ what you _didn’t_ want. Because PHP’s ternary operator is left-associative, it works on each condition in the opposite order you probably expect (“backwards”).

    As an example, you probably expect both of these to print “a”:

    print TRUE ? ‘a’: TRUE ? ‘b’: ‘c’;

    print FALSE ? FALSE ? ‘b’: ‘c’: ‘a’;

    In fact, you’re probably _more certain_ about the first example printing “a” – but, in fact, it prints “b.” In math terms, the order-of-operations doesn’t work like this:

    `(condition1 ? value1 : (condition2 ? value2 : value3;))`

    but like this:

    `((condition1 ? value1 : condition2 )? value2 : value3;)`

    [Read more here]( if you’re interested. The long and short of it is, “don’t use nested ternary statements” if you’re not _very sure_ of how they work.*

    * most of the time, stacking all of the conditions in the “if true” position, with all values at the end, will produce the expected results. most of the time.

    # July 14, 2013 at 8:54 pm

    @traq yeah that’s pretty counter-intuitive but using it like `?:` is pretty safe (though [this]( wouldn’t work, thinking about it).

    `expr1 ?: expr2 ?: expr3` is the same as `(expr1 ?: expr2) ?: expr3`.

    @ChrisBurton, maybe you should check the what the type of the last value is instead of checking it’s title:

    $trakt = $data->activity[0];

    if($trakt->movie) {
    $title = $trakt->movie->title;
    } elseif($trakt->show) {
    $title = $trakt->show->title;
    } else {
    $title = “None”;

    see if that works.

    # July 14, 2013 at 8:59 pm

    There’s also

    $title = @$trakt->movie->title
    or $title = @$trakt->show->title
    or $title = “None”;

    A very unique use-case, where `or` is (usefully!) different than `||`
    and `@` is not completely evil. : )

    # July 14, 2013 at 9:03 pm

    @CrocoDillon It worked when the last thing I watched was a movie however, if the last thing I watched was a show, I get this:

    Notice: Undefined property: stdClass::$movie in trakt.php on line 10

    10. if($trakt->movie) {
    11. $title = $trakt->movie->title;
    12. } elseif($trakt->show) {
    13. $title = $trakt->show->title;
    14. } else {
    15. $title = “None”;
    16. }

    # July 14, 2013 at 9:06 pm

    @traq THAT WORKED!

    …doing some testing to make sure.

    # July 14, 2013 at 9:12 pm

    Sometimes I wish PHP was as forgiving as JS :P

    # July 14, 2013 at 9:15 pm

    Thanks @CrocoDillon, @traq, @BenWalker and @srig99.

    Solution (by @traq):

    $title = @$trakt->movie->title
    or $title = @$trakt->show->title
    or $title = “None”;

    # July 14, 2013 at 9:31 pm

    Can’t say I added much – what I posted was incorrect! (Sorry)

    @Traq – thanks for detailing so clearly how the ternary operator works. I can’t say I’ve ever stacked them before, but it’s certainly something I would readily have done without considering how they would be evaluated.

    # July 14, 2013 at 9:35 pm

    @BenWalker I still like to thank those who contribute their time.

    # July 14, 2013 at 9:59 pm

    @chrisburton, just to clarify, my

    $title = @$trakt->movie->title
    or $title = @$trakt->show->title
    or $title = “None”;

    works out exactly the same as @CrocoDillon‘s last suggestion (if you added `@`’s):

    $title = @$trakt->movie->title
    ?: @$trakt->show->title
    ?: “None”;

    …which actually turns out to be about 15% faster to execute, according to quick-and-dirty benchmarks; plus is fancier-looking ;)

    # July 14, 2013 at 10:06 pm

    @traq, Hey buddy, the ? and none is comparable to sql or and null criteria?

    # July 14, 2013 at 10:25 pm

    >@traq, Hey buddy, the ? and none is comparable to sql or and null criteria?

    umm… no?

    The `?` in PHP is part of the ternary operator (I always think of it as the “is this true?” operator).
    In SQL, the `?` is a placeholder for data in a prepared statement.

    In SQL, `NULL` (which is _not_ the same as “None”, or even the idea of `0`) means “unknown.”
    The `”None”` in my example above is simply the last (default) value in the assignment chain.

    But I’m not really sure I understand your question. If you meant something else, please explain further.

    # July 14, 2013 at 10:31 pm

    I have a good knowledge of DB Dev, as you prolly know, doing it for over 10 years (Access, MySql and SQL Server) but I am lately getting intrigued with PHP and how it works in conjunction with DB. Is it like a scripting language to retrieve attribute values from predefined Transact query and place it in html? Or can you actually query tbl with it?

    # July 14, 2013 at 10:52 pm

    As with HTML and everything else, when you get down to it, PHP only writes text. When you write an SQL statement in PHP (for example,
    `$sql = “SELECT this FROM that WHERE other = ‘$myVar’”;`
    ), you’re really just making a string. PHP does nothing with it except send it, verbatum, to the database server.

    Of course, PHP has functions that wrap MySQL’s API libraries, so you can, more-or-less, do anything you can do with MySQL directly.

    Read up on [MySQLi]( (my preference) or [PDO]( If you have more questions, however, you should probably start a new discussion instead of side-tracking @chrisburton‘s.

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