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How to use php serialize() and unserialize() Function
  • Last Updated : 30 Sep, 2019

In PHP, the complex data can not be transported or can not be stored. If you want to execute continuously a complex set of data beyond a single script then this serialize() and unserialize() functions are handy to deal with those complex data structures. The serialize() function is just given a compatible shape to a complex data structure that the PHP can handle that data after that you can reverse the work by using the unserialize() function.

Most often, we need to store a complex array in the database or in a file from PHP. Some of us might have surely searched for some built-in function to accomplish this task. Complex arrays are arrays with elements of more than one data-types or array. But, we already have a handy solution to handle this situation.

Serialize() Function: The serialize() is an inbuilt function PHP that is used to serialize the given array. The serialize() function accepts a single parameter which is the data we want to serialize and returns a serialized string.

  • Syntax:
    serialize( $values_in_form_of_array )
  • Below program illustrate the Serialize() function.
    Program:

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    <?php 
      
    // Complex array 
    $myvar = array
        'hello'
        42, 
        array(1, 'two'), 
        'apple'
    ); 
      
    // Convert to a string 
    $string = serialize($myvar); 
      
    // Printing the serialized data 
    echo $string
      
    ?> 

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  • Output:
    a:4:{i:0;s:5:"hello";i:1;i:42;i:2;a:2:{i:
    0;i:1;i:1;s:3:"two";}i:3;s:5:"apple";}

Unserialize() Function: The unserialize() is an inbuilt function php that is used to unserialize the given serialized array to get back to the original value of the complex array, $myvar.

  • Syntax:
    unserialize( $serialized_array )
  • Below program illustrate both serialize() and unserialize() functions:
    Program:

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    code

    <?php 
      
    // Complex array 
    $myvar = array
        'hello'
        42, 
        array(1, 'two'), 
        'apple'
    ); 
      
    // Serialize the above data 
    $string = serialize($myvar); 
      
    // Unserializing the data in $string 
    $newvar = unserialize($string); 
      
    // Printing the unserialized data 
    print_r($newvar); 
      
    ?> 

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  • Output:
    Array
    (
        [0] => hello
        [1] => 42
        [2] => Array
            (
                [0] => 1
                [1] => two
            )
    
        [3] => apple
    )
    

Note: For more depth knowledge you can check PHP | Serializing Data article.




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