Web Development

Warning: Parameter 2 to function() expected to be a reference, value given in File.php

I recently moved from shared hosting to cloud hosting servers where I had installed newer versions of most of the server software, Apache, PHP, MySQL. After I moved my websites to the new servers, I was not surprised that I received a good number of access errors and that some of the sites did not work properly like they did in the old shared hosting server. One of the errors I got on my wordpress blog was this one:

Warning: Parameter 2 to some_function() expected to be a reference, value given directory/some_file.php on line 298

Of course your own error would refer to a different function, a different file and a different line, but it’s still the same error.

What Does This Error Mean?

This error complains about the second parameter of some_function(). Your own function would be called something different. In my case, my function had two parameters some_function(param1, param2). To find this function, navigate to the file specified in the error message and scroll down to the line number specified.
If it is a wordpress site, you might be able to find the file by going to Appearance > Editor, when you find the file, you can easily search for the function name by pressing CTRL+F on your browser. Otherwise, just use an FTP client like FIleZilla.
When you find the function, you would notice that the second parameter isn’t a variable but PHP expects it to be a variable. It might look something like this some_function($param1, &$param2).

Fixing The Error

This function worked previously in my old servers because I had an old version of PHP. My new servers currently run PHP 7.1 and this is where tthe problem stemmed from. PHP 7.1 changed the way references work. (see: http://php.net/manual/en/language.references.php) the error comes from the & in front of values in functions. Simply remove the & in front of the affected parameter and you’ll be all set. You’ll need to do this for all the functions you’re getting these errors for if it’s more than one.

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