I am writing a function which loops through an array of products. The function needs to return:

  • the ID of the first product that has an image and is in stock
  • if no products have an image and are in stock, then return the first product id that has an image
  • if no products have an image, then return the first product id that is in stock
  • if no products have an image, and no products are in stock, return the first product id

This is what I have written, and it is working as expected:

function loopThroughProducts($products)
    $firstId = $products[0]->id;

    foreach ($products as $product) {
        if ($product->hasImage && $product->inStock) {
            $id = $product->id;
            return $id;
        if ($product->hasImage && empty($firstIdWithImage)) {
            $firstIdWithImage = $product->id;
        if ($product->inStock && empty($firstIdInStock)) {
            $firstIdInStock = $product->id;

    if (!empty($firstIdWithImage)) {
        return $firstIdWithImage;
    if (!empty($firstIdInStock)) {
        return $firstIdInStock;

    return $firstId;

Does anyone see a way that I can optimize this loop or simplify the logic? I dislike using so many sequential if-statements in one function, and there are some minor violations to the DRY principle.

  • 1
    \$\begingroup\$ I have always heard if you are indenting more than twice in a function or have lots of if..else you should separate this functionality. If this is part of a class you could break all of these into methods that are more flexible and testable. \$\endgroup\$
    – Ross Edman
    Oct 20, 2014 at 17:26
  • \$\begingroup\$ Thanks for the feedback. I believe you are referring to cyclomatic complexity. For our project, if-statements nested within a loop are generally acceptable. Any additional nesting would certainly provoke ancillary private methods as you described. \$\endgroup\$ Nov 8, 2014 at 19:34

2 Answers 2


Clean, readable code. But why not use more of PHP's standard array functions? Use the array_search or in_array functions. Or -even more fancy- the array_filter function.

  • \$\begingroup\$ Thanks for the feedback. Those are definitely viable options if I was matching only one set of criteria. However, since I am matching on a few different criteria (as described in the bullet points of my question), my function conveniently returns all the matches I need in one loop. If I used array_search or in_array, I would be searching (looping through) the same array at least three times, and this would not be as performant. \$\endgroup\$ Oct 19, 2014 at 21:21
  • Yes, you can certainly nest your checks a bit better to improve DRYness.
  • isset() has an advantage over empty() in this scenario because isset() accepts multiple parameters versus empty() only permits a single parameter.
  • using a chain of null coalescing operators will reduce the lines of code near the end of your custom function. Here is a reference to this technique.

For anyone who got lost in your explanation of the logic:

  1. Has Image, Has Stock -- use as soon as found
  2. Has Image, No Stock -- use if no #1 is found in whole array
  3. No Image, Has Stock -- use if no #2 is found in whole array
  4. No Image, No Stock -- use default if no #3 is found in whole array

Logically, there is no reason to store an id that qualifies as #3 if a #2 id is already found.

Code: (not tested because no test data provided)

function loopThroughProducts($products) {
    foreach ($products as $product) {
        if ($product->hasImage) {
            if ($product->inStock) {
                return $product->id;
            } elseif (!isset($hasImageNoStock)) {
                $hasImageNoStock = $product->id;
        } elseif ($product->inStock && !isset($hasImageNoStock, $hasStockNoImage)) {
            $hasStockNoImage = $product->id;
    return $hasImageNoStock ?? $hasStockNoImage ?? $products[0]->id;

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