So, amidst an interesting fight with CakePHP, I was fortunate enough to spot a quirk in json_encode when passing arrays. If you have a typical ordinal array, life is good. If you have a typical associative array, life is good. The quirk is in how PHP decides what you have.

We define “life is good” here as: you pass something without meaningful keys, you get an array; you pass something with meaningful keys, you get an object.

When you have a regular old array of values (or rows of a result set, in my case) and you filter it with, e.g., array_filter, you can end up with holes in the ordinal numbering.  This delights json_encode, which displays its exceptional, “just works” intelligence, giving you an object full of numeric indexes pointing at what you thought would be unnamed items in an array.  In some cases, this makes no difference but, in some, it can be a big problem.

Fortunately, I’m generally in tune enough with the stylings of PHP that I went straight to trying array_values – and now, all is right with the world. Just wrap any array_filter calls with array_values if you plan to turn the goods into JSON. -NB

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02 October 2008