I have been reading the documentation for module_load_include() and there's a warning that says:

Do not use this function in a global context since it requires Drupal to be fully bootstrapped, use require_once DRUPAL_ROOT . '/path/file' instead.

Now I'm not sure what this "global context" means. I guess a page callback function is not in global context because I'd have to do a global $user to access the user entity. The only global context instance I can think of is in the index.php file at the root directory, but I don't think people normally code on this file because it'd be "hacking" Drupal core.

Am I just missing the whole concept of global context as used in Drupal?


It means the global scope, ie anything outside a function and namespace. It's the PHP 'global', not anything specific to drupal.

People tend to use module_load_include at the top of .module files to bring in includes, much like in a traditional standalone PHP project.

This is potentially bad because the required elements might not have been bootstrapped at that point, which can lead to errors; hence the warning not to use it in a global context.


In a global context means outside any function, method or class. If you were to use the following code, it would not give you the right result.


// Load the files containing the module code.
module_load_include('inc', 'mymodule', 'common.functions');

 * Implements hook_node_load().
function mymodule_node_load($nodes, $types) {
  // Decide whether any of $types are relevant to our purposes.
  if (count(array_intersect($types_we_want_to_process, $types))) {
    // Gather our extra data for each of these nodes.
    $result = db_query('SELECT nid, foo FROM {mytable} WHERE nid IN(:nids)', array(':nids' => array_keys($nodes)));
    // Add our extra data to the node objects.
    foreach ($result as $record) {
      $nodes[$record->nid]->foo = $record->foo;

Instead, in that case, you should use require_once().

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