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# -*- coding: utf-8 -*-
a port of the ``serialize`` and ``unserialize`` functions of
php to python. This module implements the python serialization
interface (eg: provides `dumps`, `loads` and similar functions).
>>> from phpserialize import *
>>> obj = dumps("Hello World")
>>> loads(obj)
'Hello World'
Due to the fact that PHP doesn't know the concept of lists, lists
are serialized like hash-maps in PHP. As a matter of fact the
reverse value of a serialized list is a dict:
>>> loads(dumps(range(2)))
{0: 0, 1: 1}
If you want to have a list again, you can use the `dict_to_list`
helper function:
>>> dict_to_list(loads(dumps(range(2))))
[0, 1]
It's also possible to convert into a tuple by using the `dict_to_tuple`
>>> dict_to_tuple(loads(dumps((1, 2, 3))))
(1, 2, 3)
Another problem are unicode strings. By default unicode strings are
encoded to 'utf-8' but not decoded on `unserialize`. The reason for
this is that phpserialize can't guess if you have binary or text data
in the strings:
>>> loads(dumps(u'Hello W\xf6rld'))
'Hello W\xc3\xb6rld'
If you know that you have only text data of a known charset in the result
you can decode strings by setting `decode_strings` to True when calling
>>> loads(dumps(u'Hello W\xf6rld'), decode_strings=True)
u'Hello W\xf6rld'
Dictionary keys are limited to strings and integers. `None` is converted
into an empty string and floats and booleans into integers for PHP
>>> loads(dumps({None: 14, 42.23: 'foo', True: [1, 2, 3]}))
{'': 14, 1: {0: 1, 1: 2, 2: 3}, 42: 'foo'}
It also provides functions to read from file-like objects:
>>> from StringIO import StringIO
>>> stream = StringIO('a:2:{i:0;i:1;i:1;i:2;}')
>>> dict_to_list(load(stream))
[1, 2]
And to write to those:
>>> stream = StringIO()
>>> dump([1, 2], stream)
>>> stream.getvalue()
Like `pickle` chaining of objects is supported:
>>> stream = StringIO()
>>> dump([1, 2], stream)
>>> dump("foo", stream)
>>> load(stream)
{0: 1, 1: 2}
>>> load(stream)
This feature however is not supported in PHP. PHP will only unserialize
the first object.
Array Serialization
Starting with 1.2 you can provide an array hook to the unserialization
functions that are invoked with a list of pairs to return a real array
object. By default `dict` is used as array object which however means
that the information about the order is lost for associative arrays.
For example you can pass the ordered dictionary to the unserilization
>>> from collections import OrderedDict
>>> loads('a:2:{s:3:"foo";i:1;s:3:"bar";i:2;}',
... array_hook=OrderedDict)
collections.OrderedDict([('foo', 1), ('bar', 2)])
Object Serialization
PHP supports serialization of objects. Starting with 1.2 of phpserialize
it is possible to both serialize and unserialize objects. Because class
names in PHP and Python usually do not map, there is a separate
`object_hook` parameter that is responsible for creating these classes.
For a simple test example the `phpserialize.phpobject` class can be used:
>>> data = 'O:7:"WP_User":1:{s:8:"username";s:5:"admin";}'
>>> user = loads(data, object_hook=phpobject)
>>> user.username
>>> user.__name__
An object hook is a function that takes the name of the class and a dict
with the instance data as arguments. The instance data keys are in PHP
format which usually is not what you want. To convert it into Python
identifiers you can use the `convert_member_dict` function. For more
information about that, have a look at the next section. Here an
example for a simple object hook:
>>> class User(object):
... def __init__(self, username):
... self.username = username
>>> def object_hook(name, d):
... cls = {'WP_User': User}[name]
... return cls(**d)
>>> user = loads(data, object_hook=object_hook)
>>> user.username
To serialize objects you can use the `object_hook` of the dump functions
and return instances of `phpobject`:
>>> def object_hook(obj):
... if isinstance(obj, User):
... return phpobject('WP_User', {'username': obj.username})
... raise LookupError('unknown object')
>>> dumps(user, object_hook=object_hook)
PHP's Object System
The PHP object system is derived from compiled languages such as Java
and C#. Attributes can be protected from external access by setting
them to `protected` or `private`. This does not only serve the purpose
to encapsulate internals but also to avoid name clashes.
In PHP each class in the inheritance chain can have a private variable
with the same name, without causing clashes. (This is similar to the
Python `__var` name mangling system).
This PHP class::
class WP_UserBase {
protected $username;
public function __construct($username) {
$this->username = $username;
class WP_User extends WP_UserBase {
private $password;
public $flag;
public function __construct($username, $password) {
$this->password = $password;
$this->flag = 0;
Is serialized with a member data dict that looks like this:
>>> data = {
... ' * username': 'the username',
... ' WP_User password': 'the password',
... 'flag': 'the flag'
... }
Because this access system does not exist in Python, the
`convert_member_dict` can convert this dict:
>>> d = convert_member_dict(data)
>>> d['username']
'the username'
>>> d['password']
'the password'
The `phpobject` class does this conversion on the fly. What is
serialized is the special `__php_vars__` dict of the class:
>>> user = phpobject('WP_User', data)
>>> user.username
'the username'
>>> user.username = 'admin'
>>> user.__php_vars__[' * username']
As you can see, reassigning attributes on a php object will try
to change a private or protected attribute with the same name.
Setting an unknown one will create a new public attribute:
>>> user.is_admin = True
>>> user.__php_vars__['is_admin']
To convert the phpobject into a dict, you can use the `_asdict`
>>> d = user._asdict()
>>> d['username']
Python 3 Notes
Because the unicode support in Python 3 no longer transparently
handles bytes and unicode objects we had to change the way the
decoding works. On Python 3 you most likely want to always
decode strings. Because this would totally fail on binary data
phpserialize uses the "surrogateescape" method to not fail on
invalid data. See the documentation in Python 3 for more
- added support for Python 3
- added support for object serialization
- added support for array hooks
- added `dict_to_list` and `dict_to_tuple`
- added support for unicode
- allowed chaining of objects like pickle does
:copyright: 2007-2012 by Armin Ronacher.
license: BSD
import codecs
default_errors = 'surrogateescape'
except LookupError:
default_errors = 'strict'
from StringIO import StringIO as BytesIO
except ImportError:
from io import BytesIO as BytesIO
except NameError:
# Python 3
unicode = str
basestring = (bytes, str)
except NameError:
# Python 3
long = int
except NameError:
xrange = range
__author__ = 'Armin Ronacher <>'
__version__ = '1.3'
__all__ = ('phpobject', 'convert_member_dict', 'dict_to_list', 'dict_to_tuple',
'load', 'loads', 'dump', 'dumps', 'serialize', 'unserialize')
def _translate_member_name(name):
if name[:1] == ' ':
name = name.split(None, 2)[-1]
return name
class phpobject(object):
"""Simple representation for PHP objects. This is used """
__slots__ = ('__name__', '__php_vars__')
def __init__(self, name, d=None):
if d is None:
d = {}
object.__setattr__(self, '__name__', name)
object.__setattr__(self, '__php_vars__', d)
def _asdict(self):
"""Returns a new dictionary from the data with Python identifiers."""
return convert_member_dict(self.__php_vars__)
def _lookup_php_var(self, name):
for key, value in self.__php_vars__.items():
if _translate_member_name(key) == name:
return key, value
def __getattr__(self, name):
rv = self._lookup_php_var(name)
if rv is not None:
return rv[1]
raise AttributeError(name)
def __setattr__(self, name, value):
rv = self._lookup_php_var(name)
if rv is not None:
name = rv[0]
self.__php_vars__[name] = value
def __repr__(self):
return '<phpobject %r>' % (self.__name__,)
def convert_member_dict(d):
"""Converts the names of a member dict to Python syntax. PHP class data
member names are not the plain identifiers but might be prefixed by the
class name if private or a star if protected. This function converts them
into standard Python identifiers:
>>> convert_member_dict({"username": "user1", " User password":
... "default", " * is_active": True})
{'username': 'user1', 'password': 'default', 'is_active': True}
return dict((_translate_member_name(k), v) for k, v in d.items())
def dumps(data, charset='utf-8', errors=default_errors, object_hook=None):
"""Return the PHP-serialized representation of the object as a string,
instead of writing it to a file like `dump` does. On Python 3
this returns bytes objects, on Python 3 this returns bytestrings.
def _serialize(obj, keypos):
if keypos:
if isinstance(obj, (int, long, float, bool)):
return ('i:%i;' % obj).encode('latin1')
if isinstance(obj, basestring):
encoded_obj = obj
if isinstance(obj, unicode):
encoded_obj = obj.encode(charset, errors)
s = BytesIO()
return s.getvalue()
if obj is None:
return b's:0:"";'
raise TypeError('can\'t serialize %r as key' % type(obj))
if obj is None:
return b'N;'
if isinstance(obj, bool):
return ('b:%i;' % obj).encode('latin1')
if isinstance(obj, (int, long)):
return ('i:%s;' % obj).encode('latin1')
if isinstance(obj, float):
return ('d:%s;' % obj).encode('latin1')
if isinstance(obj, basestring):
encoded_obj = obj
if isinstance(obj, unicode):
encoded_obj = obj.encode(charset, errors)
s = BytesIO()
return s.getvalue()
if isinstance(obj, (list, tuple, dict)):
out = []
if isinstance(obj, dict):
iterable = obj.items()
iterable = enumerate(obj)
for key, value in iterable:
out.append(_serialize(key, True))
out.append(_serialize(value, False))
return b''.join([
if isinstance(obj, phpobject):
return b'O' + _serialize(obj.__name__, True)[1:-1] + \
_serialize(obj.__php_vars__, False)[1:]
if object_hook is not None:
return _serialize(object_hook(obj), False)
raise TypeError('can\'t serialize %r' % type(obj))
return _serialize(data, False)
def load(fp, charset='utf-8', errors=default_errors, decode_strings=False,
object_hook=None, array_hook=None):
"""Read a string from the open file object `fp` and interpret it as a
data stream of PHP-serialized objects, reconstructing and returning
the original object hierarchy.
`fp` must provide a `read()` method that takes an integer argument. Both
method should return strings. Thus `fp` can be a file object opened for
reading, a `StringIO` object (`BytesIO` on Python 3), or any other custom
object that meets this interface.
`load` will read exactly one object from the stream. See the docstring of
the module for this chained behavior.
If an object hook is given object-opcodes are supported in the serilization
format. The function is called with the class name and a dict of the
class data members. The data member names are in PHP format which is
usually not what you want. The `simple_object_hook` function can convert
them to Python identifier names.
If an `array_hook` is given that function is called with a list of pairs
for all array items. This can for example be set to
`collections.OrderedDict` for an ordered, hashed dictionary.
if array_hook is None:
array_hook = dict
def _expect(e):
v =
if v != e:
raise ValueError('failed expectation, expected %r got %r' % (e, v))
def _read_until(delim):
buf = []
while 1:
char =
if char == delim:
elif not char:
raise ValueError('unexpected end of stream')
return b''.join(buf)
def _load_array():
items = int(_read_until(b':')) * 2
result = []
last_item = Ellipsis
for idx in xrange(items):
item = _unserialize()
if last_item is Ellipsis:
last_item = item
result.append((last_item, item))
last_item = Ellipsis
return result
def _unserialize():
type_ =
if type_ == b'n':
return None
if type_ in b'idb':
data = _read_until(b';')
if type_ == b'i':
return int(data)
if type_ == b'd':
return float(data)
return int(data) != 0
if type_ == b's':
length = int(_read_until(b':'))
data =
if decode_strings:
data = data.decode(charset, errors)
return data
if type_ == b'a':
return array_hook(_load_array())
if type_ == b'o':
if object_hook is None:
raise ValueError('object in serialization dump but '
'object_hook not given.')
name_length = int(_read_until(b':'))
name =
if decode_strings:
name = name.decode(charset, errors)
return object_hook(name, dict(_load_array()))
raise ValueError('unexpected opcode')
return _unserialize()
def loads(data, charset='utf-8', errors=default_errors, decode_strings=False,
object_hook=None, array_hook=None):
"""Read a PHP-serialized object hierarchy from a string. Characters in the
string past the object's representation are ignored. On Python 3 the
string must be a bytestring.
return load(BytesIO(data), charset, errors, decode_strings,
object_hook, array_hook)
def dump(data, fp, charset='utf-8', errors=default_errors, object_hook=None):
"""Write a PHP-serialized representation of obj to the open file object
`fp`. Unicode strings are encoded to `charset` with the error handling
of `errors`.
`fp` must have a `write()` method that accepts a single string argument.
It can thus be a file object opened for writing, a `StringIO` object
(or a `BytesIO` object on Python 3), or any other custom object that meets
this interface.
The `object_hook` is called for each unknown object and has to either
raise an exception if it's unable to convert the object or return a
value that is serializable (such as a `phpobject`).
fp.write(dumps(data, charset, errors, object_hook))
def dict_to_list(d):
"""Converts an ordered dict into a list."""
# make sure it's a dict, that way dict_to_list can be used as an
# array_hook.
d = dict(d)
return [d[x] for x in xrange(len(d))]
except KeyError:
raise ValueError('dict is not a sequence')
def dict_to_tuple(d):
"""Converts an ordered dict into a tuple."""
return tuple(dict_to_list(d))
serialize = dumps
unserialize = loads