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This article is copyright Melonfire,
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2017. All rights reserved.

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2017. All rights reserved.

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Copyright infringement is a violation of law.

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PHP 101 (part 9): SQLite My Fire!
Get to grips with SQLite, the new database in PHP 5.x.


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Hard Choices

If you've been paying attention, you now know how to use PHP's MySQL API to perform queries and process result sets. You might even have started thinking about how to re-program your site to run off a MySQL database. All of this is a Good Thing - it means you're getting comfortable with using PHP's database support to power your applications - but there's still a little further to go.

As you saw in the previous segment, enabling MySQL support in PHP 5.0 is not as simple as it used to be. Instead of supporting MySQL out of the box, PHP now requires you to make all kinds of decisions about versions and libraries before allowing you to hook your scripts up to a MySQL database. If you're lazy (and deep down, we both know you are), you might instead prefer to try a simpler option: the SQLite database engine.

Built-in SQLite support is new to PHP 5.0, and offers users a lightweight database system that is fast, efficient and gets the job done. Since it's enabled by default in PHP 5.0, it provides a viable alternative to MySQL; you can use it out of the box, without spending time on version checks and library downloads; just install PHP 5 and start typing. That's why I'm devoting a whole tutorial to it - so get out of bed, make yourself some coffee and let's get started!


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Making New Friends

Before getting into the code, let's make sure that you have a clear idea of what SQLite is (and isn't). Unlike MySQL, which operates on a client-server paradigm, SQLite is a file-based database engine and uses file I/O (input/output) functions to store and read databases from files on disk. It's also much, much smaller than MySQL - the command-line version of SQLite weighs in at under 200 KB - and supports most of the SQL commands you're used to.

This small size shouldn't deceive you, however - according to the official SQLite Web site, SQLite supports databases up to 2 terabytes in size and is actually faster than MySQL in certain situations. SQLite database files are easily portable, and SQLite databases created on Windows work fine on *NIX platforms and vice-versa.

One of SQLite's more interesting aspects is that it is completely typeless. Fields in an SQLite database need not be associated with a specific type, and even if they are, you can still insert values of different types into them (there is one exception to this rule, but I'll get to that later). This is important, because it means that if you're concerned about values of the wrong type getting into your tables, you need to write code to implement type checking in your application.

Another important difference between MySQL and SQLite lies in their licensing policies: unlike MySQL, SQLite source code is completely public-domain, which means that you can use and distribute it however you choose in both commercial and non-commercial products. Take a look at http://sqlite.org/copyright.html for more on this.

In order to use SQLite and PHP together, your PHP build must include SQLite. This is enabled by default in both the UNIX and Windows versions of PHP 5.x. Read more about this at http://www.php.net/manual/en/ref.sqlite.php. If you're a PHP 4.x user, though, don't lose heart - you can still use SQLite, by manually downloading and installing php_sqlite.dll from http://snaps.php.net (Windows) or the latest tarball from http://pecl.php.net/package/SQLite (UNIX). You don't need to download anything else; the SQLite "client" is its own engine.


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Anatomy Class

Now, use PHP to communicate with SQLite, generate the same result set and format it as an HTML page. Here's the code:


<html>
<head></head>
<body>

<?php
// set path of database file
$db = $_SERVER['DOCUMENT_ROOT'] . "/../library.db";

// open database file
$handle = sqlite_open($db) or die("Could not open database");

// generate query string
$query = "SELECT * FROM books";

// execute query
$result = sqlite_query($handle, $query) or die("Error in query: ".sqlite_error_string(sqlite_last_error($handle)));

// if rows exist
if (sqlite_num_rows($result) > 0) {
    // get each row as an array
    // print values
    echo "<table cellpadding=10 border=1>";
    while($row = sqlite_fetch_array($result)) {
        echo "<tr>";
        echo "<td>".$row[0]."</td>";
        echo "<td>".$row[1]."</td>";
        echo "<td>".$row[2]."</td>";
        echo "</tr>";
    }
    echo "</table>";
}

// all done
// close database file
sqlite_close($handle);
?>

</body>
</html>
[code]

If all goes well, you should see something like this:

Output image

If you remember what you learned last time, the PHP script above should be easy to decipher. In case you don't, here's a fast rundown:

1. The ball starts rolling with the sqlite_open() function, which accepts the name of the database file as argument and attempts to open it. If this database file cannot be found, an empty database file will be created with the supplied name (assuming the script has write access to the directory).

[code]
<?php
$db = $_SERVER['DOCUMENT_ROOT'] . "/../library.db";
$handle = sqlite_open($db) or die("Could not open database");
?>


The database file needs to be kept somewhere it can't be accessed through the browser by visitors to your site. That means that you need to create it outside your Web server document root, in a directory that allows your scripts read/write permissions. Web hosting companies generally will offer a space above your Web-visible directory where you can do this. In this case, $_SERVER['DOCUMENT_ROOT'] . "/.." is the directory directly above your Web-visible directory.

If successful, the sqlite_open() function returns a handle to the file, which is stored in the variable $handle and is used for all subsequent communication with the database.
     
2. The next step is to create and execute the query, with the sqlite_query() function.


<?php
$query = "SELECT * FROM books";
$result = sqlite_query($handle, $query) or die("Error in query: ".sqlite_error_string(sqlite_last_error($handle)));
?>


This function also needs two parameters: the database handle and the query string. Depending on whether or not the query was successful, the function returns true or false; in the event of a failure, the sqlite_error_string() and sqlite_last_error() functions can be used to display the error that took place.

3. If sqlite_query() is successful, the result set returned by the query is stored in the variable $result. You can retrieve the records in the result set with the sqlite_fetch_array() function, which fetches a single row of data as an array called $row. Fields in that record are represented as array elements, and can be accessed using standard index notation.

Each time you call sqlite_fetch_array(), the next record in the result set is returned. This makes sqlite_fetch_array() very suitable for use in a while() loop, in much the same way as mysql_fetch_row() was used earlier.


<?php
if (sqlite_num_rows($result) > 0) {
  echo "<table cellpadding=10 border=1>";
  while($row = sqlite_fetch_array($result)) {
      echo "<tr>";
      echo "<td>".$row[0]."</td>";
      echo "<td>".$row[1]."</td>";
      echo "<td>".$row[2]."</td>";
      echo "</tr>";
  }
  echo "</table>";
}
?>


The number of records returned by the query can be retrieved with the sqlite_num_rows() function. Or, if what you're really interested in is the number of fields in the result set, use the sqlite_num_fields() function instead. Of course, these are only applicable with queries that actually return records; it doesn't really make sense to use them with INSERT, UPDATE or DELETE queries.

4. Once you're done, it's a good idea to close the database handle and return the used memory to the system, with a call to sqlite_close():


<?php
sqlite_close($handle);
?>


In PHP 5.x, you can also use the SQLite API in an object-oriented way, wherein each of the functions above becomes a method of the SQLiteDatabase() object. Take a look at this next listing, which is equivalent to the one above:

[code]
<html>
<head></head>
<body>

<?php
// set path of database file
$file = $_SERVER['DOCUMENT_ROOT'] . "/../library.db";

// create database object
$db = new SQLiteDatabase($file) or die("Could not open database");

// generate query string
$query = "SELECT *  FROM books";

// execute query
// return result object
$result = $db->query($query) or die("Error in query");

// if rows exist
if ($result->numRows() > 0) {
    // get each row as an array
    // print values
    echo "<table cellpadding=10 border=1>";
    while($row = $result->fetch()) {
        echo "<tr>";
        echo "<td>".$row[0]."</td>";
        echo "<td>".$row[1]."</td>";
        echo "<td>".$row[2]."</td>";
        echo "</tr>";
    }
    echo "</table>";
}

// all done
// destroy database object
unset($db);
?>

</body>
</html>
[code]

Here, the new keyword is used to instantiate an object of the class SQLiteDatabase() by passing the object constructor the name of the database file. If the database file does not already exist, a new database file is created. The resulting object, stored in $db, then exposes methods and properties to perform queries. Every query returns an instance of the class SQLiteResult(), which in turn exposes methods for fetching and processing records.

If you look closely at the two scripts above, you'll see the numerous similarities between the procedural function names and the object method names. While the correspondence between the two is not perfect, it's usually close enough to make it possible to guess the one if you know the other.


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Different Strokes

As with the MySQL API, PHP's SQLite API offers you more than one way to skin a cat. For example, you can retrieve each row as an object with the sqlite_fetch_object() method, and access field values by using the field names as object properties. Here's an example:


<html>
<head></head>
<body>
<?php
// set path of database file
$db = $_SERVER['DOCUMENT_ROOT'] . "/../library.db";

// open database file
$handle = sqlite_open($db) or die("Could not open database");

// generate query string
$query = "SELECT * FROM books";

// execute query
$result = sqlite_query($handle, $query) or die("Error in query: ".sqlite_error_string(sqlite_last_error($handle)));

// if rows exist
if (sqlite_num_rows($result) > 0) {
    // get each row as an object
    // print field values as object properties
    echo "<table cellpadding=10 border=1>";
    while($obj = sqlite_fetch_object($result)) {
        echo "<tr>";
        echo "<td>".$obj->id."</td>";
        echo "<td>".$obj->title."</td>";
        echo "<td>".$obj->author."</td>";
        echo "</tr>";
    }
    echo "</table>";
}

// all done
// close database file
sqlite_close($handle);
?>
</body>
</html>


Another option is to retrieve the complete result set in one fell swoop with the sqlite_fetch_all() function. This function retrieves the complete set of records as an array of arrays; each element of the outer array represents a record, and is itself structured as an array whose elements represent fields in that record.

Here's an example, which might make this clearer:


<html>
<head></head>
<body>
<?php
// set path of database file
$db = $_SERVER['DOCUMENT_ROOT'] . "/../library.db";

// open database file
$handle = sqlite_open($db) or die("Could not open database");

// generate query string
$query = "SELECT * FROM books";

// execute query
$result = sqlite_query($handle, $query) or die("Error in query: ".sqlite_error_string(sqlite_last_error($handle)));

// get the complete result set as a series of nested arrays
$data = sqlite_fetch_all($result);

// all done
// close database file
sqlite_close($handle);

// check the array to see if it contains at least one record
if (sizeof($data) > 0) {
    echo "<table cellpadding=10 border=1>";
    // iterate over outer array (rows)
    // print values for each element of inner array (columns)
    foreach ($data as $row) {
        echo "<tr>";
        echo "<td>".$row[0]."</td>";
        echo "<td>".$row[1]."</td>";
        echo "<td>".$row[2]."</td>";
        echo "</tr>";
    }
    echo "</table>";
}
?>
</body>
</html>


In all the previous examples, the database remained open while the result set was processed, because records were retrieved one after another with the sqlite_fetch_array() or sqlite_fetch_object() functions. The example above is unique in that the database can be closed before the result set array is processed. This is because the entire result set is retrieved at once and stored in the $data array, so there really isn't any need to leave the database open while processing it.

If your result set contains only a single field, use the sqlite_fetch_single() function, which retrieves the value of the first field of a row. The PHP manual puts it best when it says "this is the most optimal way to retrieve data when you are only interested in the values from a single column of data." Take a look:


<html>
<head></head>
<body>
<?php
// set path of database file
$db = $_SERVER['DOCUMENT_ROOT'] . "/../library.db";

// open database file
$handle = sqlite_open($db) or die("Could not open database");

// generate query string
// this query returns only a single record with a single field
$query = "SELECT author FROM books WHERE title = 'A Study In Scarlet'";

// execute query
$result = sqlite_query($handle, $query) or die("Error in query: ".sqlite_error_string(sqlite_last_error($handle)));

// if a row exists
if (sqlite_num_rows($result) > 0) {
    // get the value of the first field of the first row
    echo sqlite_fetch_single($result);
}

// all done
// close database file
sqlite_close($handle);
?>
</body>
</html>


You can even use the sqlite_fetch_single() function in combination with a while() loop to iterate over a result set containing many records but a single field. Notice also my usage of the sqlite_has_more() function, to check if the next row exists or not.


<html>
<head></head>
<body>
<?php
// set path of database file
$db = $_SERVER['DOCUMENT_ROOT'] . "/../library.db";

// open database file
$handle = sqlite_open($db) or die("Could not open database");

// generate query string
$query = "SELECT DISTINCT author FROM books";

// execute query
$result = sqlite_query($handle, $query) or die("Error in query: ".sqlite_error_string(sqlite_last_error($handle)));

// if rows exist
if (sqlite_num_rows($result) > 0) {
    echo "<table cellpadding=10 border=1>";
    // check for more rows
    while (sqlite_has_more($result)) {
        // get first field from each row
        // print values
        $row = sqlite_fetch_single($result);
        echo "<tr>";
        echo "<td>".$row."</td>";
        echo "</tr>";
    }
    echo "</table>";
}

// all done
// close database file
sqlite_close($handle);
?>
</body>
</html>


You can, of course, do the same thing using object notation. The next script, which is equivalent to the one above, illustrates:

[code]
<html>
<head></head>
<body>
<?php
// set path of database file
$file = $_SERVER['DOCUMENT_ROOT'] . "/../library.db";

// create database object
$db = new SQLiteDatabase($file) or die("Could not open database");

// generate query string
$query = "SELECT DISTINCT author FROM books";

// execute query
$result = $db->query($query) or die("Error in query");

// if rows exist
if ($result->numRows() > 0) {
    echo "<table cellpadding=10 border=1>";
    // check for more rows
    while ($result->valid()) {
        // get first field from each row
        // print values
        $row = $result->fetchSingle();
        echo "<tr>";
        echo "<td>".$row."</td>";   
        echo "</tr>";
    }
    echo "</table>";
}

// all done
// destroy database object
unset($db);
?>
</body>
</html>
[code]


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Adding To The Collection

You can also use the sqlite_query() function (or the query() method) to perform INSERT, UPDATE and DELETE queries. The next example demonstrates, by allowing you to add new records to the books table through a form. Remember that your PHP script (or the user it's running as) must have write privileges on the database file for this to work:


<html>
<head><basefont face="Arial"></head>
<body>
<?php
// set path of database file
$db = $_SERVER['DOCUMENT_ROOT'] . "/../library.db";

// open database file
$handle = sqlite_open($db) or die("Could not open database");

// check to see if the form was submitted with a new record
if (isset($_POST['submit'])) {
    // make sure both title and author are present
    if (!empty($_POST['title']) && !empty($_POST['author'])) {
        // generate INSERT query
        $insQuery = "INSERT INTO books (title, author) VALUES (\"".sqlite_escape_string($_POST['title'])."\", \"".sqlite_escape_string($_POST['author'])."\")";
        // execute query
        $insResult = sqlite_query($handle, $insQuery) or die("Error in query: ".sqlite_error_string(sqlite_last_error($handle)));
        // print success message
        echo "<i>Record successfully inserted!</i><p />";
    }
    else {
        // missing data
        // display error message
        echo "<i>Incomplete form input. Record not inserted!</i><p />";
    }
}

// now display all the records in the database
// generate SELECT query string
$query = "SELECT * FROM books";

// execute query
$result = sqlite_query($handle, $query) or die("Error in query: ".sqlite_error_string(sqlite_last_error($handle)));

// if rows exist
if (sqlite_num_rows($result) > 0) {
// get each row as an array
    // print values
    echo "<table cellpadding=10 border=1>";
    while($row = sqlite_fetch_array($result)) {
        echo "<tr>";
        echo "<td>".$row[0]."</td>";
        echo "<td>".$row[1]."</td>";
        echo "<td>".$row[2]."</td>";
        echo "</tr>";
    }
    echo "</table>";
}

// all done
// close database file
sqlite_close($handle);
?>
<p>
<h2>Enter new record:</h2>
<form method="post" action="<?php echo $_SERVER['PHP_SELF']; ?>">
Book title: <input type="text" name="title">
<br />
Author: <input type="text" name="author">
<br />
<input type="submit" name="submit" value="Save">
</form>

</body>
</html>


Here's what the initial form looks like:

Output image

And here's what happens after you submit a record:

Output image

Notice my usage of the sqlite_escape_string() function on each INSERTed value - this takes care of escaping special characters in the user's input, which could otherwise cause the update to fail.


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Not My Type

Whilst on the topic of INSERT, remember my statement a couple pages back about how SQLite is typeless and so you can insert values of any type into any field? There is one important exception to this rule: a field marked as INTEGER PRIMARY KEY. In SQLite, fields marked as INTEGER PRIMARY KEY do two important things: they provide a unique numeric identifier for each record in the table, and if you insert a NULL value into them, SQLite automatically inserts a value that is 1 greater than the largest value already present in that field.

INTEGER PRIMARY KEY fields in SQLite thus perform the equivalent of AUTO_INCREMENT fields in MySQL, and are a convenient way of automatically numbering your records. Obviously, you can't insert non-numeric values into such a field, which is why I said they were an exception to the typeless rule. Read more about this at http://www.sqlite.org/datatypes.html.

Since the books table used in the previous example already contains such a field (the id field), it's clear that every INSERT into it with a NULL value for that field generates a new record number. If you'd like to retrieve this number, PHP has a way to do that too - just use the sqlite_last_insert_rowid() function, which returns the ID of the last inserted row (equivalent to the mysql_insert_id() function in PHP's MySQL API).

To see this in action, update the if() loop in the middle of the previous script to include a call to sqlite_last_insert_rowid(), as follows:


<?php
// check to see if the form was submitted with a new record
if (isset($_POST['submit'])) {
    // make sure both title and author are present
if (!empty($_POST['title']) && !empty($_POST['author'])) {
        // generate INSERT query
        $insQuery = "INSERT INTO books (title, author) VALUES (\"".sqlite_escape_string($_POST['title'])."\", \"".sqlite_escape_string($_POST['author'])."\")";
        // execute query
        $insResult = sqlite_query($handle, $insQuery) or die("Error in query: ".sqlite_error_string(sqlite_last_error($handle)));
        // print success message
        echo "<i>Record successfully inserted with ID ".sqlite_last_insert_rowid($handle)."!</i><p />";
    }
    else {
        // missing data
        // display error message
        echo "<i>Incomplete form input. Record not inserted!</i><p />";
    }
}
?>


If you need to, you can also find out how many rows were affected using the sqlite_changes() function - try it for yourself and see!


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Starting From Scratch

You'll remember, from the beginning of this tutorial, that I suggested you initialize the library.db database using the SQLite commandline program. Well, that isn't the only way to create a fresh SQLite database - you can use PHP itself to do this, by issuing the necessary CREATE TABLE and INSERT commands through the sqlite_query() function. Here's how:


<?php
// set path of database file
$db = $_SERVER['DOCUMENT_ROOT'] . "/../library.db";

// open database file
$handle = sqlite_open($db) or die("Could not open database");

// create database
sqlite_query($handle, "CREATE TABLE books (id INTEGER PRIMARY KEY, title VARCHAR(255) NOT NULL, author VARCHAR(255) NOT NULL)") or die("Error in query: ".sqlite_error_string(sqlite_last_error($handle)));

// insert records
sqlite_query($handle, "INSERT INTO books (title, author) VALUES ('The Lord Of The Rings', 'J.R.R. Tolkien')") or die("Error in query: ".sqlite_error_string(sqlite_last_error($handle)));

sqlite_query($handle, "INSERT INTO books (title, author) VALUES ('The Murders In The Rue Morgue', 'Edgar Allan Poe')") or die("Error in query: ".sqlite_error_string(sqlite_last_error($handle)));

sqlite_query($handle, "INSERT INTO books (title, author) VALUES ('Three Men In A Boat', 'Jerome K. Jerome')") or die("Error in query: ".sqlite_error_string(sqlite_last_error($handle)));

sqlite_query($handle, "INSERT INTO books (title, author) VALUES ('A Study In Scarlet', 'Arthur Conan Doyle')") or die("Error in query: ".sqlite_error_string(sqlite_last_error($handle)));

sqlite_query($handle, "INSERT INTO books (title, author) VALUES ('Alice In Wonderland', 'Lewis Carroll')") or die("Error in query: ".sqlite_error_string(sqlite_last_error($handle)));

// print success message
echo "<i>Database successfully initialized!";

// all done
// close database file
sqlite_close($handle);
?>


Or, in PHP 5.x, you can use the object-oriented approach:


<?php
// set path of database file
$file = $_SERVER['DOCUMENT_ROOT'] . "/../library.db";

// create database object
$db = new SQLiteDatabase($file) or die("Could not open database");

// create database
$db->query("CREATE TABLE books (id INTEGER PRIMARY KEY, title VARCHAR(255) NOT NULL, author VARCHAR(255) NOT NULL)") or die("Error in query");

// insert records
$db->query("INSERT INTO books (title, author) VALUES ('The Lord Of The Rings', 'J.R.R. Tolkien')") or die("Error in query");

$db->query("INSERT INTO books (title, author) VALUES ('The Murders In The Rue Morgue', 'Edgar Allan Poe')") or die("Error in query");

$db->query("INSERT INTO books (title, author) VALUES ('Three Men In A Boat', 'Jerome K. Jerome')") or die("Error in query");

$db->query("INSERT INTO books (title, author) VALUES ('A Study In Scarlet', 'Arthur Conan Doyle')") or die("Error in query");

$db->query("INSERT INTO books (title, author) VALUES ('Alice In Wonderland', 'Lewis Carroll')") or die("Error in query");

// print success message
echo "<i>Database successfully initialized!";

// all done
// destroy database object
unset($db);
?>



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A Few Extra Tools

Finally, the SQLite API also includes some ancillary functions, to provide you with information on the SQLite version and encoding, and on the error code and message generated by the last failed operation. The following example demonstrates the sqlite_libversion() and sqlite_libencoding() functions, which return the version number and encoding of the linked SQLite library respectively:


<?php
// version
echo "SQLite version: ".sqlite_libversion()."<br />";
// encoding
echo "SQLite encoding: ".sqlite_libencoding()."<br />";
?>


When things go wrong, reach for the sqlite_last_error() function, which returns the last error code returned by SQLite. Of course, this error code - a numeric value - is not very useful in itself; to convert it to a human-readable message, couple it with the sqlite_error_string() function. Consider the following example, which illustrates by attempting to run a query with a deliberate error in it:


<?php
// set path of database file
$db = $_SERVER['DOCUMENT_ROOT']."/../library.db";

// open database file
$handle = sqlite_open($db) or die("Could not open database");

// generate query string
// query contains a deliberate error
$query = "DELETE books WHERE id = 1";

// execute query
$result = sqlite_query($handle, $query) or die("Error in query: ".sqlite_error_string(sqlite_last_error($handle)));

// all done
// close database file
sqlite_close($handle);
?>


Here's what the output looks like:

Output image

Note that although they might appear similar, the sqlite_last_error() and sqlite_error_string() functions don't work in exactly the same way as the mysql_errno() and mysql_error() functions. The mysql_errno() and mysql_error() functions can be used independently of each other to retrieve the last error code and message respectively, but the sqlite_error_string() is dependent on the error code returned by sqlite_last_error().

And that's about all I have for you in this tutorial. More secrets await you in the next episode of PHP 101, so make sure you come back for that one!


Copyright notice:

This article is copyright Melonfire,
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2017. All rights reserved.

All source code, brand names, trademarks and other content contained herein and proprietary to Melonfire,
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2017. All rights reserved.

Source code within this article is provided with NO WARRANTY WHATSOEVER. It is meant for illustrative purposes only, and is NOT recommended for use in production environments.

Copyright infringement is a violation of law.

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