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Object Serialization

Serializing objects - objects in sessions

serialize() returns a string containing a byte-stream representation of any value that can be stored in PHP. unserialize() can use this string to recreate the original variable values. Using serialize to save an object will save all variables in an object. The methods in an object will not be saved, only the name of the class.

In order to be able to unserialize() an object, the class of that object needs to be defined. That is, if you have an object of class A and serialize this, you'll get a string that refers to class A and contains all values of variables contained in it. If you want to be able to unserialize this in another file, an object of class A, the definition of class A must be present in that file first. This can be done for example by storing the class definition of class A in an include file and including this file or making use of the spl_autoload_register() function.

<?php
// classa.inc:
  
  
class {
      public 
$one 1;
    
      public function 
show_one() {
          echo 
$this->one;
      }
  }
  
// page1.php:

  
include("classa.inc");
  
  
$a = new A;
  
$s serialize($a);
  
// store $s somewhere where page2.php can find it.
  
file_put_contents('store'$s);

// page2.php:
  
  // this is needed for the unserialize to work properly.
  
include("classa.inc");

  
$s file_get_contents('store');
  
$a unserialize($s);

  
// now use the function show_one() of the $a object.  
  
$a->show_one();
?>

If an application is using sessions and uses session_register() to register objects, these objects are serialized automatically at the end of each PHP page, and are unserialized automatically on each of the following pages. This means that these objects can show up on any of the application's pages once they become part of the session. However, the session_register() is removed since PHP 5.4.0.

It is strongly recommended that if an application serializes objects, for use later in the application, that the application includes the class definition for that object throughout the application. Not doing so might result in an object being unserialized without a class definition, which will result in PHP giving the object a class of __PHP_Incomplete_Class_Name, which has no methods and would render the object useless.

So if in the example above $a became part of a session by running session_register("a"), you should include the file classa.inc on all of your pages, not only page1.php and page2.php.

Beyond the above advice, note that you can also hook into the serialization and unserialization events on an object using the __sleep() and __wakeup() methods. Using __sleep() also allows you to only serialize a subset of the object's properties.

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User Contributed Notes 2 notes

up
40
php at lanar dot com dot au
4 years ago
Note that static members of an object are not serialized.
up
-24
wbcarts at juno dot com
4 years ago
PHP OBJECT SERIALIZATION

I use a database to store info rather than storing PHP Objects themselves. However, I find that having a PHP Object acting as an interface to my db is way useful. For example, suppose I have a TABLE called 'user' that looks like this.

CREATE TABLE user {
  user_id MEDIUMINT UNSIGNED NOT NULL AUTO_INCREMENT,
  user_first VARCHAR(24) NOT NULL,
  user_last VARCHAR(24) NOT NULL,
  PRIMARY KEY (user_id)
);

Then I would create a PHP Class definition like so:

<?php

require('includes/db_connect.php');

class
User
{
  protected
$user_id;
  protected
$user_first;
  protected
$user_last;

  public function
__construct($id, $first, $last)
  {
   
$this->user_id = $id;
   
$this->user_first = $first;
   
$this->user_last = $last;
  }

 
# FUNCTIONS TO RETRIEVE INFO - DESERIALIZE.
 
public static function db_user_by_id($dbc, $id)
  {
   
$query = "SELECT * FROM user WHERE user_id=$id LIMIT 1";
    return
User::db_select($dbc, $query);
  }

  public static function
db_user_by_name($dbc, $first, $last)
  {
   
$query = "SELECT * FROM user WHERE user_first='$first' AND user_last='$last' LIMIT 1";
    return
User::db_select($dbc, $query);
  }

  protected static function
db_select($dbc, $query);
  {
   
$result = mysqli_query($dbc, $query);
    if(
mysqli_num_rows($result) > 0)
    {
     
$row = mysqli_fetch_array($result, MYSQLI_NUM);
      return new
User($row[0], $row[1], $row[2]);
    }
  }

 
# FUNCTIONS TO SAVE INFO - SERIALIZE.
 
public function insert($dbc)
  {
   
$query = "INSERT INTO user VALUES (NULL, '$this->user_first', '$this->user_last')";
   
$result = mysqli_query($dbc, $query);
  }

  public function
update($dbc)
  {
   
$query = "UPDATE user SET user_first='$this->user_first', user_last='$this->user_last' WHERE user_id=$this->id LIMIT 1";
   
$result = mysqli_query($dbc, $query);
  }

 
# GETTER and SETTER FUNCTIONS - DO NOT ALLOW SETTING OF ID
 
public function getId() {return $this->user_id;)
  public function
getFirst() {return $this->user_first;)
  public function
getLast() {return $this->user_last;)
  public function
setFirst($first) {$this->user_first = $first;}
  public function
setLast($last) {$this->user_last = $last;}

 
# CUSTOM FUNCTIONS
 
public function getFullName() {return $this->user_first . ' ' . $this->user_last;}
  public function
getLastFirst() {return $this->user_last . ', ' . $this->user_first;}
}

?>

Using PHP Objects for SERIALIZATION and DESERIALIZATION is now super-easy, for example:

<?php

require('User.php');

// INSERT a new user.
$user = new User(0, 'Frank', 'American');
$user->insert($dbc);  // done!

// UPDATE an existing user.
$user = User::db_user_by_id($dbc, 223);
$user->setFirst('Johnny');
$user->update($dbc);  // done!

mysqli_close($dbc);

?>
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