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PHP 101 (part 11): Sinfully Simple
Change your life with SimpleXML

| Petting Zoo |

To see how SimpleXML works, consider the following XML file:


<?xml version="1.0"?>
<pet>
    <name>Polly Parrot</name>
    <age>3</age>
    <species>parrot</species>
    <parents>
        <mother>Pia Parrot</mother>
        <father>Peter Parrot</father>
    </parents>
</pet>


Now, you need a way to get to the content enclosed between the <name>, <age>, <species> and <parents> elements. With SimpleXML, it's a snap:


<?php
// set name of XML file
$file = "pet.xml";

// load file
$xml = simplexml_load_file($file) or die ("Unable to load XML file!");

// access XML data
echo "Name: " . $xml->name . "\n";
echo "Age: " . $xml->age . "\n";
echo "Species: " . $xml->species . "\n";
echo "Parents: " . $xml->parents->mother . " and " .  $xml->parents->father . "\n";
?>


The action begins with the simplexml_load_file() function, which accepts the path and name of the XML file to be parsed. The result of parsing the file is a PHP object, whose properties correspond to the elements under the root element. The character data within an element can then be accessed using standard object->property notation, beginning with the root element and moving down the hierarchical path of the document.

Just as you can read, so also can you write. SimpleXML makes it easy to alter the contents of a particular XML element - simply assign a new value to the corresponding object property. Here's an example:


<?php
// set name of XML file
$file = "pet.xml";

// load file
$xml = simplexml_load_file($file) or die ("Unable to load XML file!");

// modify XML data
$xml->name = "Sammy Snail";
$xml->age = 4;
$xml->species = "snail";
$xml->parents->mother = "Sue Snail";
$xml->parents->father = "Sid Snail";

// write new data to file
file_put_contents($file, $xml->asXML());
?>


Here, the original XML file is first read in, and then the character data enclosed within each element is altered by assigning new values to the corresponding object property. The asXML() method, typically used to dump the XML tree back out to the standard output device, is in this instance combined with the file_put_contents() function to overwrite the original XML document with the new data.


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