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A PHP XML parser that provides an easy way to convert XML into native PHP arrays and back again. No dependencies on external libraries or extensions.
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PHP XML Parser

A PHP XML parser class that provides an easy way to convert XML into native PHP arrays and back again. It has no dependencies on any external libraries or extensions bundled with PHP. The entire parser is concisely written in PHP.

This project is actively maintained. It is used in our production code. If you spot an issue, please let us know through the Issues section on our Github project page:


As XML becomes less popular, the need for a parser moves from constant to infrequent. It makes little sense to keep a parser resident in memory at all times for functionality that might be used once every few days.

For example, just to get SimpleXML going, you will need to have the libxml2 library installed on your system. You will need xml, libxml, and simplexml extensions installed for PHP. You will need to keep all those extensions in memory for each request.

In contrast, this simple parser is less than 500 lines of code and is only loaded when you need it. It has no dependencies, no required libraries or extensions, and will work on any modern PHP installation. The price you pay for that convenience is speed. It is much slower than SimpleXML. See the benchmarking section for details.

In short, this project makes sense for those who want to simplify their PHP install and use, have a need for a simple XML parser, but don't much care about speed.


PHP 5.4.0+


Just place the xml.php file in a convenient location and include it in your code.

Design Goals

  • Zero dependencies on external libraries or PHP extensions.
  • Provide a parser from and to the XML standard.
  • Provide support for the most commonly used parts of the XML standard.
  • Maintain a minimal memory footprint during operation, even for large XML files.
  • Maintain a codebase that is less than 1000 lines. Currently at less than 500 lines.


XML String to PHP Array


require 'xml.php';

$xml = new xml('<?xml version="1.0" encoding="ISO-8859-1"?>


XML File to PHP Array


require 'xml.php';

$xml = new xml('some_xml_file.xml');


PHP Array to XML String


require 'xml.php';

$xml = new xml([
	'breakfast_menu' => [
			'food' => [
				'name' => 'Waffles'
echo $xml;



A benchmark to measure memory performance for large xml files is on the todo list.

The following is the result of the benchmark code executing. The code is executed 32 times and then averaged. The code was run on an Intel(R) Atom(TM) CPU D510 @ 1.66GHz with 4GB of RAM.

simplexml: Parsed 100 line xml file in 0.0033 seconds.
simplexml: Parsed 10000 line xml file in 2.0063 seconds.
xml: Parsed 100 line xml file in 0.0251 seconds.
xml: Parsed 10000 line xml file in 11.8074 seconds.

For small files, the simplexml parser is almost 8 times faster. For larger files, it is 6 times faster.

This is a signficant performance difference. However, if you're using the code on a file that's not that large, even with the performance degradation, the job will finish within a fraction of a second.


None, for now.


MIT, see

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