Switch branches/tags
Nothing to show
Find file
Fetching contributors…
Cannot retrieve contributors at this time
112 lines (86 sloc) 5.12 KB

Patchwork UTF-8

Patchwork UTF-8 provides both a portability layer for Unicode handling in PHP and a class that mirrors the quasi complete set of native string functions, enhanced to UTF-8 grapheme clusters awareness.


Unicode handling in PHP is best performed using a combo of mbstring, iconv, intl and pcre with the u flag enabled. But when an application is expected to run on many servers, you should be aware that these 4 extensions are not always enabled.

Patchwork UTF-8 provides pure PHP implementations for 3 of those 4 extensions. Here is the set of portability-fallbacks that are currently implemented:

  • utf8_encode, utf8_decode,
  • mbstring: mb_convert_encoding, mb_decode_mimeheader, mb_encode_mimeheader, mb_convert_case, mb_internal_encoding, mb_list_encodings, mb_strlen, mb_strpos, mb_strrpos, mb_strtolower, mb_strtoupper, mb_substitute_character, mb_substr, mb_stripos, mb_stristr, mb_strrchr, mb_strrichr, mb_strripos, mb_strstr,
  • iconv: iconv, iconv_mime_decode, iconv_mime_decode_headers, iconv_get_encoding, iconv_set_encoding, iconv_mime_encode, ob_iconv_handler, iconv_strlen, iconv_strpos, iconv_strrpos, iconv_substr,
  • intl: Normalizer, grapheme_extract, grapheme_stripos, grapheme_stristr, grapheme_strlen, grapheme_strpos, grapheme_strripos, grapheme_strrpos, grapheme_strstr, grapheme_substr.

pcre compiled with unicode support is currently required.


Grapheme clusters should always be considered when working with generic Unicode strings. The Patchwork\Utf8 class implements the quasi-complete set of native string functions that need UTF-8 grapheme clusters awareness. Function names, arguments and behavior carefully replicates native PHP string functions so that usage is very easy.

Some more functions are also provided to help handling UTF-8 strings:

  • isUtf8(): checks if a string contains well formed UTF-8 data,
  • toAscii(): generic UTF-8 to ASCII transliteration,
  • strtocasefold(): unicode transformation for caseless matching,
  • strtonatfold(): generic case sensitive transformation for collation matching
  • getGraphemeClusters(): splits a string to an array of grapheme clusters

Mirrored string functions are: strlen, substr, strpos, stripos, strrpos, strripos, strstr, stristr, strrchr, strrichr, strtolower, strtoupper, wordwrap, chr, count_chars, ltrim, ord, rtrim, trim, str_ireplace, str_pad, str_shuffle, str_split, str_word_count, strcmp, strnatcmp, strcasecmp, strnatcasecmp, strncasecmp, strncmp, strcspn, strpbrk, strrev, strspn, strtr, substr_compare, substr_count, substr_replace, ucfirst, lcfirst, ucwords. Missing are printf-family functions and number_format.


Including the bootup.utf8.php file is the easiest way to enable the portability layer and configure PHP for an UTF-8 aware and portable application.

Classes are named following PSR-0 autoloader interoperability recommandations, so other loading scheme are easy to implement.

The Patchwork\Utf8 class exposes its features through static methods. Just add a use Patchwork\Utf8 as u; at the beginning of your files, then when UTF-8 awareness is required, prefix the string function by u::: echo strlen("déjà"); may become echo u::strlen("déjà"); eg.

Just run phpunit in the tests/ directory to see the code in action.

Make sure that you are confident about using UTF-8 by reading Character Sets / Character Encoding Issues and Handling UTF-8 with PHP.

You should also get familar with the concept of Unicode Normalization and Grapheme Clusters.

In particular, do not blindly replace all use of PHP's string functions. Most of the time you will not need to, and you will be introducing a significant performance overhead to your application.

Most of the functions here are not operating defensively, mainly for performance reasons. For example there is no extensive parameter checking and it is assumed that well formed UTF-8 is fed. You should screen input on the outer perimeter with help from functions like Patchwork\Utf8::isUtf8().

When dealing with badly formed UTF-8, you should not to try to fix it. Instead, consider it as ISO-8859-1 and use utf8_encode() to get an UTF-8 string. Don't forget also to choose one unicode normalization form at stick to it. NFC is the most in use today.


Patchwork\Utf8 is free software; you can redistribute it and/or modify it under the terms of the (at your option):

Unicode handling requires tedious work to be implemented and maintained on the long run. As such, contributions such as unit tests, bug reports, comments or patches licensed under both licenses are really welcomed.

I hope many projects could adopt this code and together help solve the unicode subject for PHP.