How to use the implode function in PHP

In PHP, the implode() method joins array elements and outputs them as a single string. This is useful when we need to create one string out of a set of array values.

The function can be invoked in two ways:

  1. implode( string $glue , array $pieces ) The glue is used to combine the array pieces.
  2. implode( array $pieces )  No glue is used, so the pieces will be concatenated together.

We’ll go through examples of both, as well as how to go from a string to an array, below.


Example: Using implode to Go from an Array to a String

To output an array as a string, where each array value is separated by a comma and a space, we will do the following:

$list = array( 'foo', 'bar', 'baz' );                                                                                                 echo implode( ", ", $list );                                                                                                                        // outputs: foo, bar, baz

Without the previous glue string comma, this would be the result:

$list = array( 'foo', 'bar', 'baz' );                                                                                           echo implode( $list );                                                                                                                              // outputs: foobarbaz

Other functions that prove useful for looking at the values of arrays are print_r and var_dump. These two functions can be extremely useful when we are debugging a program and want to see the output of an array (or any variable).


How To Go From a String to an Array (The Reverse of Implode):

The reverse action going from a string to an array can be done easily with explode, or by using the preg_split function, which takes a regular expression.


Using explode

Explode is the opposite of implode and uses a delimiter to decide where to break up a string. It is usually the simplest way to break up a string into an array.

$keywords = explode( ', ', 'foo, bar, baz' );                                                                                    print_r( $keywords );

The above would result in the output below:

(                                                                                                                                           [0] => foo                                                                                                                                  [1] => bar                                                                                                                                 [2] => baz                                                                                                                                         )


Using preg_split

If delimiter is REALLY complicated, it might make sense to use a regular expression to define it. If this is the case, we can use preg_split.

$keywords = preg_split( "/[,]+/", 'foo,bar,baz' );                                                                               print_r( $keywords );

This would also output the following:

(                                                                                                                                           [0] => foo                                                                                                                                 [1] => bar                                                                                                                                 [2] => baz                                                                                                                                         )

Okay, that is enough PHP string manipulation for now. Just don’t be afraid to implode!

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