PHP does not require (or support) explicit type definition in variable declaration; a variable's type is determined by the context in which that variable is used. That is to say, if you assign a string value to variable var, var becomes a string. If you then assign an integer value to var, it becomes an integer.
An example of PHP's automatic type conversion is the addition operator '+'. If any of the operands is a float, then all operands are evaluated as floats, and the result will be a float. Otherwise, the operands will be interpreted as integers, and the result will also be an integer. Note that this does NOT change the types of the operands themselves; the only change is in how the operands are evaluated.
$foo = "0"; // $foo is string (ASCII 48) $foo += 2; // $foo is now an integer (2) $foo = $foo + 1.3; // $foo is now a float (3.3) $foo = 5 + "10 Little Piggies"; // $foo is integer (15) $foo = 5 + "10 Small Pigs"; // $foo is integer (15)
If the last two examples above seem odd, see String conversion.
If you would like to test any of the examples in this section, you can use the var_dump() function.
Note: The behaviour of an automatic conversion to array is currently undefined.
While the above example may seem like it should clearly result in $a becoming an array, the first element of which is 'f', consider this:
Since PHP supports indexing into strings via offsets using the same syntax as array indexing, the example above leads to a problem: should $a become an array with its first element being "f", or should "f" become the first character of the string $a?
For this reason, as of PHP 3.0.12 and PHP 4.0b3-RC4, the result of this automatic conversion is considered to be undefined. Fixes are, however, being discussed.
Type casting in PHP works much as it does in C: the name of the desired type is written in parentheses before the variable which is to be cast.
The casts allowed are:
(int), (integer) - cast to integer
(bool), (boolean) - cast to boolean
(float), (double), (real) - cast to float
(string) - cast to string
(array) - cast to array
(object) - cast to object
Tip: Instead of casting a variable to string, you can also enclose the variable in double quotes.
Note that tabs and spaces are allowed inside the parentheses, so the following are functionally equivalent:
It may not be obvious exactly what will happen when casting between certain types. For more info, see these sections:
When casting or forcing a conversion from array to string, the result will be the word Array. When casting or forcing a conversion from object to string, the result will be the word Object.
When casting from a scalar or a string variable to an array, the variable will become the first element of the array:
When casting from a scalar or a string variable to an object, the variable will become an attribute of the object; the attribute name will be 'scalar':