PHP RFC: Add http_parse_query as an alternative to parse_str


PHP offers a function for parsing query string into an array. The function, for historical reasons, has been designed to allow registering the values as global variables. Since PHP 8.0 this is no longer possible. The function still has two main downsides: a confusing name, and no return value (it returns by out parameter instead).

$str = "first=value&arr[]=foo+bar&arr[]=baz";
parse_str($str, $output);
echo $output['first'];  // value
echo $output['arr'][0]; // foo bar
echo $output['arr'][1]; // baz


The proposal is to create a new function as a copy of parse_str() but change the name to http_parse_query() and return the array instead of using the out parameter. The new function will take only one argument.

The new function will also be maintained in the manual under https://www.php.net/manual/en/ref.url.php instead of https://www.php.net/manual/en/ref.strings.php

$str = "first=value&arr[]=foo+bar&arr[]=baz";
$output = http_parse_query($str);
echo $output['first'];  // value
echo $output['arr'][0]; // foo bar
echo $output['arr'][1]; // baz

Open Points

Should PHP remove name mangling?

As suggested on the mailing list, the name mangling does not serve any purpose anymore. It was a way to simplify variable access when register globals was used. Since PHP 8.0, this functionality is not available anymore, so the question is should we remove the name mangling from PHP parse functions completely (which would require a separate RFC and smart deprecation path) or should we remove it only from the new function?

If we should remove name mangling, what should happen to mismatched square brackets?

Should it be implemented in OOP way instead?

Maybe the replacement should be in a form of a full-fledged class with properties from two-way conversion from string to PHP array/object. What would such API look like? What functionality is missing currently from PHP? Do we need such API in core or can we just expose a function like http_parse_query() and let the rest be implemented in userland?

Future Scope

The parse_str() function will get deprecated in the next minor release and removed in the next major release.

Backward Incompatible Changes

There will be no breaking change to existing functionality. The new function is designed to give users a way to move away from parse_str() so that we can deprecate it and remove it.


Simple yes/no vote.

Add new http_parse_query() function?
Real name Yes No
Final result: 0 0
This poll has been closed.

Discussion on internals

rfc/parse_str_alternative.txt · Last modified: 2022/05/21 14:03 by dharman