Through Planet PHP I saw the blog entry " Is PHP staying the language I want to work with? ", for with comments are cowardly disabled. Although the way classes are handled is debatable, moaning that PHP 4.4 breaks "return ($ret)" when returning by reference only shows that the programmer has had no clue about references in the first place. If you place () around a variable, you're making it an expression. You can only return variables by references, not expressions. The return-by-reference in this function never could have worked as it should have in the first place. Clue: Don't use "return (<something>)", but just "return <something>".