PHP Reference Book Blog

PHP Reference: Beginner to Intermediate PHP5

This tip is courtesy of a great article, 10 Advanced PHP Tips Revisited

When referencing an array’s value via a numeric key, you follow the variable name ($variable) with the numeric index, enclosed by square brackets [5]. e.g. $variable[5] = ‘value’
However, when $variable represents a string, using the same syntax will return a string with the character at the position specified by the numeric index (0 marks the first character in the $variable string). An example:

$string = 'abcdefg';
var_dump($string[2]);

Output: string(1) “c”

Where this comes into play is when using isset() rather than strlen(). Consider the following example:

$string = 'abcdefg';
if (isset($string[5])){
  echo $string[5].' found!';
}

Output: f found!

$string = 'abcdefg';
if (isset($string[7])){
     echo $string[7].' found!';
  }else{
     echo 'No character found at position 7!';
}

Output: No character found at position 7!

This is faster than using strlen() because, “… calling a function is more expensive than using a language construct.” It’s little tricks like this that will keep your code lean and efficient. Thanks to Chris Shiflett and Sean Coates for their contributions to the referenced article.

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