Asked  8 Months ago    Answers:  5   Viewed   84 times

I have seen uses of @ in front of certain functions, like the following:

$fileHandle = @fopen($fileName, $writeAttributes);

What is the use of this symbol?



It suppresses error messages β€” see Error Control Operators in the PHP manual.

Wednesday, March 31, 2021
answered 8 Months ago

@ suppresses errors, warnings and notices.

You can use it for good purpose if you complement it with a custom error handler or with due check of $php_errormsg variable so you can handle errors properly.

In my experience, this proper usage is not seen very much and is instead used a lot in the bad way, just to hide errors without acting on them.

More info at

Wednesday, March 31, 2021
answered 8 Months ago

I would suppress the error and handle it. Otherwise you may have a TOCTOU issue (Time-of-check, time-of-use. For example a file may get deleted after file_exists returns true, but before fopen).

But I wouldn't just suppress errors to make them go away. These better be visible.

Tuesday, June 1, 2021
answered 5 Months ago

@ has been around since the days of @import in CSS1, although it's arguably becoming increasingly common in the recent @media (CSS2, CSS3) and @font-face (CSS3) constructs. The @ syntax itself, though, as I mentioned, is not new.

These are all known in CSS as at-rules. They're special instructions for the browser, not directly related to styling of (X)HTML/XML elements in Web documents using rules and properties, although they do play important roles in controlling how styles are applied.

Some code examples:

/* Import another stylesheet from within a stylesheet */
@import url(style2.css);

/* Apply this style only for printing */
@media print {
    body {
        color: #000;
        background: #fff;

/* Embed a custom web font */
@font-face {
    font-family: 'DejaVu Sans';
    src: local('DejaVu Sans Regular'), url(/fonts/DejaVuSans.ttf);
  • @font-face rules define custom fonts for use in your designs that aren't always available on all computers, so a browser downloads a font from the server and sets text in that custom font as if the user's computer had the font.

  • @media rules, in conjunction with media queries (formerly only media types), control which styles are applied and which aren't based on what media the page is being displayed in. In my code example, only when printing a document should all text be set in black against a white (the paper) background. You can use media queries to filter out print media, mobile devices and so on, and style pages differently for those.

At-rules have no relation to selectors whatsoever. Because of their varying nature, different at-rules are defined in different ways across numerous different modules. More examples include:

  • Conditional rules
  • Keyframe animations
  • Paged media

(this list is far from exhaustive)

You can find another non-exhaustive list at MDN.

Tuesday, June 1, 2021
answered 5 Months ago

Symbols are private keys that replace magic names. They prevent using a simple string to reference the field, so only consumers with the symbol can gain access.

Some symbols are used to indicate particular behaviors to the runtime (like Symbol.iterator, which acts much like a pre-shared secret), while others can be allocated by the library and used to effectively hide fields.

In general, symbols are intended as a replacement for magical names. Rather than having a properties simply called 'foo', you can allocate a symbol const foo = Symbol() and pass that selectively. This allows the runtime to allocate Symbol.iterator when it starts up and guarantees that anyone trying to implement an iterable does so in a consistent fashion.

The runtime could use symbols to optimize access to certain fields, if it felt the need to, but doesn't have to.

You can use symbols to direct consumers to a particular method, depending on their usage. For example, if you had a library that could return a synchronous iterable or a generator, depending on the client's async support, you could:

const syncIterable = Symbol();
const asyncIterable = Symbol();

class Foo {
  static getIterable(async = false) {
    return async ? asyncIterable : syncIterable;

  [syncIterable]() {
    return new SyncFoo();

  [asyncIterable]() {
    return new AsyncFoo();

let foo = new Foo();
for (let x of foo[Foo.getIterable(true)]()) {
  // could be a iterator, could be a generator

That's a rather contrived example, but shows how a library can use symbols to selectively provide access to users.

Thursday, July 29, 2021
answered 3 Months ago
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