The purpose of this article is to learn about PHP and JSON, how to work with them, and how they are used together to build websites.

During the course, we will cover topics like parsing JSON data with PHP, encoding PHP data to JSON, and utilizing APIs to send and receive JSON data.

JavaScript Object Notation (JSON) is one of the most popular lightweight data interchange formats used by different programming languages for transferring data between them.

The PHP language and JSON format work together in a way that offers the developer a powerful combination for creating dynamic web applications that can connect with other systems and APIs.

It doesn’t matter if you are new to PHP and JSON or whether you are seeking to improve your skills, this article will provide you with a solid foundation on which to build your skills on.

What is JSON?

The JSON (JavaScript Object Notation) format is a lightweight data interchange format that is easy for humans and machines to read and write. Usually, it is used as a means of sharing data between different systems and programming languages.

The JSON format is based on a simple syntax characterized by key-value pairs, similar to the structure of a dictionary or the schemas of a hash table.

Objects and arrays are nested within each other in a hierarchical structure. Strings, numbers, booleans, null, and any other JSON object or array can be used as values in a JSON object.

The main advantage of JSON is its simplicity and flexibility, which makes it a great choice for web developers who require an easy and flexible way to send and receive data between applications and other systems, such as APIs or databases.

It is also widely supported by many programming languages, including PHP, JavaScript, Python, and Java, making JSON an ideal choice for developing web applications for a wide range of platforms.


The PHP language comes with some built-in functions that can be used to handle JSON data.

To begin with, let’s take a look at two of the most important functions:


PHP json_encode()

JSON_encode() is a function that encodes a value into JSON format by converting its value to a string.

Here is a simple example of how to encode an associative array into a JSON object using the following code:


<?php $user = array( "Denis" => 45, "James" => 28, "Jennifer" => 33 ); echo json_encode($user); ?>
The following example illustrates how an array that has an index can be encoded into a JSON array using this method:


<?php $flowers = array( "Sunflower", "Rose", "Tulip" ); echo json_encode($flowers); ?>

PHP json_decode()

JSON objects can be decoded using the json_decode() function by converting them into PHP objects or arrays of associative values.
Here is an example of how JSON data can be decoded into a PHP object using the following code:


<?php $json = '{"Denis":45,"James":28,"Jennifer":33}'; var_dump(json_decode($json)); ?>

By default, json_decode() returns an object as the result.

A second parameter of the json_decode() function allows it to decide whether to encode JSON objects into arrays of associative values when set to true.

In this example, we will decode JSON data into an array of PHP associative values:


<?php $json = '{"Denis":45,"James":28,"Jennifer":33}'; var_dump(json_decode($json, true)); ?>

Get Decoded Values

There are two different ways in which you can access the decoded values, either from an object or from an associative array:

Here is an example of how you can access the values of an object in PHP in the following way:


<?php $json = '{"Denis":45,"James":28,"Jennifer":33}'; $object = json_decode($json); echo $object->Denis; echo $object->James; echo $object->Jennifer; ?>
This example illustrates how to access the values of a PHP array of associative elements using the following syntax:


<?php $json = '{"Denis":45,"James":28,"Jennifer":33}'; $array = json_decode($json, true); echo $array["Denis"]; echo $array["James"]; echo $array["Jennifer"]; ?>

PHP Json Data Looping

A PHP looping function will allow you to loop through the values in a JSON object by decoding the JSON string first and then converting it into an array of values by using the json_decode() function of PHP.

You can iterate over the values of an array using a foreach loop once you have an array.

Using this example, we will see how to loop through the values of a PHP object in the following manner:


<?php $json = '{"Denis":45,"James":28,"Jennifer":33}'; $object = json_decode($json); foreach ($object as $key => $value) { echo $key . " => " . $value . "<br>"; } ?>
This example shows how to loop through the values of a PHP associative array:


<?php $json = '{"Denis":45,"James":28,"Jennifer":33}'; $array = json_decode($json, true); foreach ($array as $key => $value) { echo $key . " => " . $value . "<br>"; } ?>

Example Explanation

Above example is decoding a JSON string into a PHP associative array using json_decode(), and then iterating through the array using a foreach loop.

The JSON string is represented as an object with key-value pairs. The json_decode() function is used to convert the JSON string into a PHP array, with the second argument true indicating that we want the result as an associative array instead of an object.

The resulting $array variable is an associative array where the keys are the names “Denis”, “James”, and “Jennifer”, and the values are the corresponding ages.

The foreach loop is then used to iterate through the array. For each iteration of the loop, the $key variable represents the name of the person, and the $value variable represents their age. Inside the loop, the echo statement is used to print the name and age to the screen, separated by “=>” and a line break.

When the code is executed, the output will be:

Denis => 45 James => 28 Jennifer => 33

This demonstrates how to parse a JSON string into a PHP associative array, and how to loop through the array to access the key-value pairs.

This can be useful for processing JSON data in PHP and extracting relevant information for your application.

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