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Would it make sense for me to use a builder pattern to return data from an API? Currently I'm just creating the array structure and returning it. In more detail, I have 3 exit places for my class that should be accounted for (one of them being empty results).

Basically it is just a multidimensional array in PHP like below. I'm not sure if I should create a global array, a struct like class, or builder. I would love some input on this for my future work.

$arr['pagination']['total']
$arr['pagination']['page']
$arr['inventory_data']
$arr['errors']

UPDATE: I'm trying it out like so :

public function getMeSomething($input)
{
    // -- return 'empty' objects if problems etc. --
    if (!$input) {
        return (array) (new myBuilderStruct())
            ->error('the input is missing')
            ->build();
    }
    // <method code here>

    // -- Return results --
    return (array) (new myBuilderStruct())
        ->total($totalRecords)
        ->current_page($page)
        ->limit($limit)
        ->error((!empty($error)) ? $error : "")
        ->build();
}

Just to give some more detail I'm using it just to return a data structure from a method, but I want all of my methods that return this data to be the same .

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  • 1
    By global array you mean something that is shared by more than one function/method? If so I would advise against that. Jun 25, 2018 at 17:23
  • Thanks for responding . No, it isn't being shared, I'm only employing this to ensure the same data back from the class so I would use this to return say an empty object if there were an error ->build() only or return the data from two methods in a class using the builder as described above. This way the object is uniform. ?
    – Mike Q
    Jun 25, 2018 at 19:05

1 Answer 1

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Pros of your approach

  • it works

  • it is readable

Cons:

  • it is probably overdesigned.

The last point is something we cannot really tell you - you need to decide for yourself if implementing this fluent interface is really worth the hassle (especially if you currently have just 3 places where you could use it in your application). If you had 30 or 300, I would say yes, it makes sense.

But for 3? I have some doubts. A simple, reusable function with default parameters maybe sufficient for the purpose of creating a uniform return value in all those 3 places, and not necessarily less readable. But maybe the situation is more complex than shown in the question, and I we don't see the whole picture, only you can tell.

Moreover, an array like

$arr['pagination']['total']
$arr['pagination']['page']
$arr['inventory_data']
$arr['errors']

looks like a code smell to me - using a class with members errors, inventory_data, and pagination would probably be more expressive and less error prone.

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  • Interesting comments , thank you!!!!!! I have to admit that Over design was my concern, mainly because future programmers may have trouble with it and in the sea of code I work in now I'm the only one to have used this ever. Anyway, Basically I'm just passing back a dressed up array from a 1500 line class that performs inventory searches. I wanted to lock down what was returned, and there is also a class that uses this class so I could probably make use of it there if I wanted. I think I may be in overkill mode with a class or builder but I don't like the alternatives like $this->array.
    – Mike Q
    Jun 25, 2018 at 20:23

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