PHP Read JSON File

PHP Read JSON File

How to Read JSON Files with PHP with examples

JSON (JavaScript Object Notation) is a lightweight data-interchange format that is easy for humans to read and write, and easy for machines to parse and generate. PHP, a popular server-side scripting language, provides robust functions for reading and manipulating JSON data. In this article, we will delve into how to read JSON files with PHP, complete with data examples and simple practical applications.

Understanding JSON

Before diving into the technical aspects, it’s crucial to understand what JSON is. JSON represents data as key-value pairs, similar to associative arrays or dictionaries in many programming languages. A JSON object might look like this:

    "name": "CodeBible Admin",
    "age": 31,
    "email": "",
    "address": {
        "street": "1234 Main St",
        "city": "Anytown",
        "state": "CA",
        "zip": "12345"
    "phoneNumbers": [
            "type": "home",
            "number": "768403-392231"
            "type": "office",
            "number": "122333444555"

Reading JSON Files in PHP

PHP provides built-in functions to handle JSON data, making it straightforward to parse and utilize JSON files. The primary functions used for this purpose are file_get_contents() and json_decode().

Step-by-Step Guide

  1. Create a JSON File: First, let’s create a sample JSON file named data.json: Use the data above to paste into the file.
  2. Use file_get_contents() to read the contents of the JSON file into a string.
  3. Decode the JSON Data: Use json_decode() to convert the JSON string into a PHP associative array or object.
  4. See the code below
  $jsonString = file_get_contents('data.json');
  $data = json_decode($jsonString, true); // Decode as associative array
  // $data = json_decode($jsonString); // Decode as object

Next we want to utilise the $data variable to access, read and print the data. Example below

  echo "Name: " . $data['name'] . "\n";
  echo "Age: " . $data['age'] . "\n";
  echo "Email: " . $data['email'] . "\n";

This would output the below to your given page/console.

Name: CodeBible Admin
Age: 31

And that is it, as simple as that!

Practical Applications

Reading JSON files with PHP is a common task in web development, especially when dealing with APIs and data interchange. Here are a few practical applications:

  1. API Integration: Many web APIs return data in JSON format. PHP scripts can consume these APIs, parse the JSON responses, and integrate the data into web applications.
  2. Configuration Files: JSON files are often used for configuration. Reading these files with PHP allows for dynamic configuration of web applications without hardcoding settings.
  3. Data Storage: JSON can be used for storing data persistently. PHP can read and write JSON files to maintain state or log information.
  4. Frontend-Backend Communication: JSON is commonly used to send data between the frontend and backend in web applications. PHP can handle these JSON payloads, process them, and respond appropriately.


Reading JSON files with PHP is a straightforward process thanks to PHP’s built-in functions. By understanding how to read, decode, and access JSON data, developers can effectively integrate JSON into their applications for configuration, data storage, API interaction

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