Disposables: Introduction

This functionality requires HHVM 3.24 or later.

using blocks and and disposables provide an alternative to destructors, executing code on scope exit without requiring reference counting.

This is done by implementing IDisposable:

  * Objects that implement IDisposable must be constructed in using statements
interface IDisposable {
   * This method is invoked exactly once at the end of the scope of the
   * using statement, unless the program terminates with a fatal error.
  public function __dispose(): void;

Disposables can then be used in using blocks:

<?hh // strict

namespace Hack\UserDocumentation\Examples\Intro\Examples\Simple;

class Handle implements \IDisposable {
  public function __dispose(): void {}
  public function foo(): void {}

function disposable_example(): void {
  // Block scope
  using ($x = new Handle()) {
  } // $x->__dispose() is implicitly called here

  // Function scope
  using new Handle();
  // handle still exists here
} // __dispose() is now called on the anonymous handle

In order to ensure that the lifetime of the disposable object can be statically enforced, we need to add a few restriction:

  • A local assigned inside the using(...) parentheses can be used only as the target of a method invocation in the using block, or passed to a function or method whose argument is marked with the <<__AcceptDisposable>> attribute.
  • The same restriction applies to any parameter marked with <<__AcceptDisposable>> throughout the function that defined the parameter. This lets you pull code out of the using block into a helper.
  • It is not permitted to write a type hint on function parameters that implement IDisposable or IAsyncDisposable, unless the parameter is marked <<__AcceptDisposable>>.
  • Classes that implement IDisposable or IAsyncDisposable may not be constructed in any other context, except when returned by a function marked as <<__ReturnDisposable>>.
  • functions may not return IDisposable, IAsyncDisposable, Awaitable<IDisposable>, Awaitable<IAsyncDisposable>, or subtypes of them unless they are marked as <<__ReturnDisposable>>.


  • <<__AcceptDisposable>> functions must not store the parameter, or pass it to anything else that is not marked <<__AcceptDisposable>>. One use-case is for logging and debugging functions.
  • <<__ReturnDisposable>> is intended for factory functions.