Structured Field Values for HTTP manipulation in PHP

1.1.0 2023-05-07 15:54 UTC

This package is auto-updated.

Last update: 2023-05-07 20:32:37 UTC


Author Software License Build Latest Version Total Downloads Sponsor development of this project

bakame/http-structured-fields is a framework-agnostic PHP library that allows you to parse, serialize build and update HTTP Structured Fields in PHP according to the RFC8941.

Once installed you will be able to do the following:

use Bakame\Http\StructuredFields\{InnerList, Item, OuterList, Token};

//1 - parsing an Accept Header
$headerValue = 'text/html, application/xhtml+xml, application/xml;q=0.9, image/webp, */*;q=0.8';
$field = OuterList::fromHttpValue($headerValue);
$field[2]->value()->toString(); // returns 'application/xml'
$field[2]->parameter('q');      // returns (float) 0.9
$field[0]->value()->toString(); // returns 'text/html'
$field[0]->parameter('q');      // returns null

//2 - building a Retrofit Cookie Header
echo OuterList::new(
        InnerList::fromAssociative(['foo', 'bar'], [
            'expire' => $expire,
            'path' => '/',
            'max-age' => 2500,
            'secure' => true,
            'httponly' => true,
            'samesite' => Token::fromString('lax'),
// returns ("foo" "bar");expire=@1681504328;path="/";max-age=2500;secure;httponly=?0;samesite=lax

System Requirements

PHP >= 8.1 is required but the latest stable version of PHP is recommended.


Use composer:

composer require bakame/http-structured-fields



⚠️WARNING: While this package parses and serializes the header value, it does not validate its content. It is still required to validate the parsed data against the constraints of the corresponding header. Content validation is out of scope for this library.

Parsing and Serializing Structured Fields

Basic usage

Parsing the header value is done via the fromHttpValue named constructor. The method is attached to each library's structured fields representation as shown below:


require 'vendor/autoload.php';

use Bakame\Http\StructuredFields\Item;

// the raw HTTP field value is given by your application
// via any given framework, package or super global.

$headerLine = 'bar;baz=42'; //the raw header line is a structured field item
$field = Item::fromHttpValue($headerLine);
$field->value();          // returns Token::fromString('bar); the found token value 
$field->parameter('baz'); // returns 42; the value of the parameter or null if the parameter is not defined.

The fromHttpValue method returns an instance which implements the StructuredField interface. The interface provides the toHttpValue method that serializes it into a normalized RFC compliant HTTP field string value. To ease integration, the __toString method is implemented as an alias to the toHttpValue method.

use Bakame\Http\StructuredFields\Item;

$field = Item::fromHttpValue('bar;    baz=42;     secure=?1');
echo $field->toHttpValue(); // return 'bar;baz=42;secure'
// on serialization the field has been normalized

// the HTTP response is build by your application
// via any given framework, package or PHP native function.

header('foo: '. $field->toHttpValue());
header('foo: '. $field);

All five (5) structured data type as defined in the RFC are provided inside the Bakame\Http\StructuredFields namespace. They all implement the StructuredField interface and expose a fromHttpValue named constructor:

  • Item
  • Parameters
  • Dictionary
  • OuterList (named List in the RFC but renamed in the package because list is a reserved word in PHP.)
  • InnerList

Advance usage

Starting with version 1.1 the internal parser has been made public in order to allow:

  • clearer decoupling betwen parsing and objet building
  • different parsers implementations
  • improve the package usage in testing.

Each fromHttpValue method signature has been updated to take a second optional argument that represents the parser interface to use in order to allow parsing of the HTTP string representation value.

By default, if no parser is provided, the package will default to use the package Parser class,

Item::fromHttpValue(Stringable|string $httpValue, ItemParser $parser = new Parser()): Item;
InnerList::fromHttpValue(Stringable|string $httpValue, InnerListParser $parser = new Parser()): InnerList;
Dictionary::fromHttpValue(Stringable|string $httpValue, DictionaryParser $parser = new Parser()): Dictionary;
OuterList::fromHttpValue(Stringable|string $httpValue, ListParser $parser = new Parser()): OuterList;
Parameters::fromHttpValue(Stringable|string $httpValue, ParametersParser $parser = new Parser()): Parameters;

The Parser class exposes the following method each belonging to a different contract or interface.

Parser::parseValue(Stringable|string $httpValue): ByteSequence|Token|DateTimeImmutable|string|int|float|bool;
Parser::parseItem(Stringable|string $httpValue): array;
Parser::parseParameters(Stringable|string $httpValue): array;
Parser::parseInnerList(Stringable|string $httpValue): array;
Parser::parseList(Stringable|string $httpValue): array;
Parser::parseDictionary(Stringable|string $httpValue): array;

Once instantiated, calling one of the above listed method is straightforward:

use Bakame\Http\StructuredFields\Parser;

$parser = new Parser();
$parser->parseValue('text/csv'); //returns Token::fromString('text/csv')
//returns an array
//  [
//    new DateTimeImmutable('@1234567890'),
//    ['file' => 24],
//  ]

While the provided default Parser class implements all these methods you are free to only implement the methods you need.

Accessing Structured Fields Values

RFC Value type

Per the RFC, items can have different types that are translated to PHP using:

  • native type where possible
  • specific classes defined in the package namespace to represent non-native type

The table below summarizes the item value type.

RFC Type PHP Type Package Enum Type
Integer int Type::Integer
Decimal float Type::Decimal
String string Type::String
Boolean bool Type::Boolean
Token class Token Type::Token
Byte Sequence class ByteSequence Type::ByteSequence
Date class DateTimeImmutable Type::Date

The Enum Type which list all available types can be use to determine the RFC type corresponding to a PHP structure using the Type::fromValue static method. The method will throw if the structure is not recognized Alternatively it is possible to use the Type::tryFromValue which will instead return null on unindentified type. On success both methods returns the corresponding enum Type.

use Bakame\Http\StructuredFields\Type;

echo Type::fromValue(42);         // returns Type::Integer
echo Type::fromValue(42.0)->name; // returns 'Decimal'
echo Type::fromValue(new SplTempFileObject());    // throws InvalidArgument
echo Type::tryFromValue(new SplTempFileObject()); // returns null

To ease validation a Type::equals method is exposed to check if the Item has the expected type. It can also be used to compare types.

use Bakame\Http\StructuredFields\Type;

$field = Item::fromHttpValue('"foo"');
Type::Date->equals($field);          // returns false
Type::String->equals($field);        // returns true;
Type::Boolean->equals(Type::String); // returns false

The RFC defines two (2) specific data types that can not be represented by PHP default type system, for them, we have defined two classes Token and ByteSequence to help with their representation.

use Bakame\Http\StructuredFields\Token;
use Bakame\Http\StructuredFields\ByteSequence;

Token::fromString(string|Stringable $value): Token
ByteSequence::fromDecoded(string|Stringable $value): ByteSequence;
ByteSequence::fromEncoded(string|Stringable $value): ByteSequence;

Both classes are final and immutable; their value can not be modified once instantiated. To access their value, they expose the following API:

use Bakame\Http\StructuredFields\Token;
use Bakame\Http\StructuredFields\ByteSequence;

$token = Token::fromString('application/text+xml');
echo $token->toString(); // returns 'application/text+xml'

$byte = ByteSequence::fromDecoded('Hello world!');
$byte->decoded(); // returns 'Hello world!'
$byte->encoded(); // returns 'SGVsbG8gd29ybGQh'

$token->equals($byte); // will return false;
$byte->equals(ByteSequence::fromEncoded('SGVsbG8gd29ybGQh')); // will return true

$token->type(); // returns Type::Token enum
$byte->type();  // returns Type::ByteSequence

⚠️WARNING: Both classes DO NOT expose the Stringable interface to distinguish them from a string or a string like object


The defined types are all attached to an Item object where their value and type are accessible using the following methods:

use Bakame\Http\StructuredFields\Item;
use Bakame\Http\StructuredFields\Type;

$item = Item::fromHttpValue('@1234567890');
$item->type();  // return Type::Date;
$item->value()  // return the equivalent to DateTimeImmutable('@1234567890');


All containers objects implement PHP IteratorAggregate, Countable and ArrayAccess interfaces. Their members can be accessed using the following shared methods

$container->keys(): array<string|int>;
$container->has(string|int ...$offsets): bool;
$container->get(string|int $offset): StrucuredField;
$container->hasMembers(): bool;
$container->hasNoMembers(): bool;

The get method will throw an InvalidOffset exception if no member exists for the given $offset.

To avoid invalid states, ArrayAccess modifying methods throw a ForbiddenOperation if you try to use them on any container object:

use Bakame\Http\StructuredFields\Parameters;

$value = Parameters::fromHttpValue(';a=foobar']);
$value->has('b');     // return false
$value['a']->value(); // return 'foobar'
$value['b'];          // triggers a InvalidOffset exception, the index does not exist
$value['a'] = 23      // triggers a ForbiddenOperation exception
unset($value['a']);   // triggers a ForbiddenOperation exception

The Dictionary and Parameters classes also allow accessing its members as pairs:

$container->hasPair(int ...$offsets): bool;
$container->pair(int $offset): array{0:string, 1:StructuredField};
$container->toPairs(): iterable<array{0:string, 1:StructuredField}>;

The pair method will throw an InvalidOffset exception if no member exists for the given $offset.

Accessing the parameters values

Accessing the associated Parameters instance attached to an InnerList or a Item instances is done using the following methods:

use Bakame\Http\StructuredFields\InnerList;
use Bakame\Http\StructuredFields\Item;
use Bakame\Http\StructuredFields\Parameters;

$field->parameter(string $key): ByteSequence|Token|DateTimeImmutable|Stringable|string|int|float|bool|null;
$field->parameters(): Parameters;
$field->parameterByIndex(int $index): array{0:string, 1:ByteSequence|Token|DateTimeImmutable|Stringable|string|int|float|boo}|array{}
InnerList::toPair(): array{0:list<Item>, 1:Parameters}>};
Item::toPair(): array{0:ByteSequence|Token|DateTimeImmutable|Stringable|string|int|float|bool, 1:Parameters}>};
  • The parameter method will return null if no value is found for the given key.
  • The parameterByIndex method is added in version 1.1.0 and returns an empty array if no parameter is found for the given index.

Building and Updating Structured Fields Values

Every value object can be used as a builder to create an HTTP field value. Because we are using immutable value objects any change to the value object will return a new instance with the changes applied and leave the original instance unchanged.

Items value

The Item value object exposes the following named constructors to instantiate bare items (ie: item without parameters attached to them).

use Bakame\Http\StructuredFields\ByteSequence;
use Bakame\Http\StructuredFields\Item;
use Bakame\Http\StructuredFields\Token;

Item:new(DateTimeInterface|ByteSequence|Token|string|int|float|bool $value): self
Item::fromDecodedByteSequence(Stringable|string $value): self;
Item::fromEncodedByteSequence(Stringable|string $value): self;
Item::fromToken(Stringable|string $value): self;
Item::fromString(Stringable|string $value): self;
Item::fromDate(DateTimeInterface $datetime): self;
Item::fromDateFormat(string $format, string $datetime): self;
Item::fromDateString(string $datetime, DateTimeZone|string|null $timezone = null): self;
Item::fromTimestamp(int $value): self;
Item::fromDecimal(int|float $value): self;
Item::fromInteger(int|float $value): self;
Item::true(): self;
Item::false(): self;

To update the Item instance value, use the withValue method:

use Bakame\Http\StructuredFields\Item;

Item::withValue(DateTimeInterface|ByteSequence|Token|string|int|float|bool $value): static

Ordered Maps

The Dictionary and Parameters are ordered map instances. They can be built using their keys with an associative iterable structure as shown below

use Bakame\Http\StructuredFields\Dictionary;

$value = Dictionary::fromAssociative([
    'b' => Item::false(),
    'a' => Item::fromToken('bar'),
    'c' => new DateTimeImmutable('2022-12-23 13:00:23'),

echo $value->toHttpValue(); //"b=?0, a=bar, c=@1671800423"
echo $value;                //"b=?0, a=bar, c=@1671800423"

or using their indexes with an iterable structure of pairs (tuple) as defined in the RFC:

use Bakame\Http\StructuredFields\Parameters;
use Bakame\Http\StructuredFields\Item;

$value = Parameters::fromPairs(new ArrayIterator([
    ['b', Item::false()],
    ['a', Item::fromToken('bar')],
    ['c', new DateTime('2022-12-23 13:00:23')]

echo $value->toHttpValue(); //;b=?0;a=bar;c=@1671800423
echo $value;                //;b=?0;a=bar;c=@1671800423

If the preference is to use the builder pattern, the same result can be achieved with the following steps:

  • First create a Parameters or a Dictionary instance using the new named constructor which returns a new instance with no members.
  • And then, use any of the following modifying methods to populate it.
$map->add(string $key, $value): static;
$map->append(string $key, $value): static;
$map->prepend(string $key, $value): static;
$map->mergeAssociative(...$others): static;
$map->mergePairs(...$others): static;
$map->remove(string|int ...$key): static;

As shown below: `

use Bakame\Http\StructuredFields\Dictionary;
use Bakame\Http\StructuredFields\Item;
use Bakame\Http\StructuredFields\Token;

$value = Dictionary::new()
    ->add('a', InnerList::new(
    ->prepend('b', Item::false())
    ->append('c', Item::fromDateString('2022-12-23 13:00:23'))

echo $value->toHttpValue(); //b=?0, a=(bar "42" 42 42.0), c=@1671800423
echo $value;                //b=?0, a=(bar "42" 42 42.0), c=@1671800423

Since version 1.1.0 it is possible to also build Dictionary and Parameters instances using indexes and pair as per described in the RFC.

The $pair parameter is a tuple (ie: an array as list with exactly two members) where:

  • the first array member is the parameter $key
  • the second array member is the parameter $value
// since version 1.1
$map->unshift(array ...$pairs): static;
$map->push(array ...$pairs): static;
$map->insert(int $key, array ...$pairs): static;
$map->replace(int $key, array $pair): static;
$map->removeByKeys(string ...$keys): static;
$map->removeByIndices(int ...$indices): static;

We can rewrite the previous example

use Bakame\Http\StructuredFields\Dictionary;
use Bakame\Http\StructuredFields\Item;
use Bakame\Http\StructuredFields\Token;

$value = Dictionary::new()
        ['a', InnerList::new(
         ['c', Item::true()]
    ->unshift(['b', Item::false()])
    ->replace(2, ['c', Item::fromDateString('2022-12-23 13:00:23')])

echo $value->toHttpValue(); //b=?0, a=(bar "42" 42 42.0), c=@1671800423
echo $value;                //b=?0, a=(bar "42" 42 42.0), c=@1671800423

⚠️WARNING: on duplicate keys pair values are merged as per RFC logic.

The remove always accepted string or integer as input. Since version 1.1 the method is fixed to remove the corresponding pair if its index is given to the method.


use Bakame\Http\StructuredFields\Dictionary;

$field = Dictionary::fromHttpValue('b=?0, a=(bar "42" 42 42.0), c=@1671800423');
- echo $field->remove('b', 2)->toHttpValue(); // returns a=(bar "42" 42 42.0), c=@1671800423
+ echo $field->remove('b', 2)->toHttpValue(); // returns a=(bar "42" 42 42.0)

If a stricter approach is needed, use the following new methods removeByIndices and/or removeByKeys:

use Bakame\Http\StructuredFields\Parameters;

$field = Parameters::fromHttpValue(';expire=@1681504328;path="/";max-age=2500;secure;httponly=?0;samesite=lax');
echo $field->removeByIndices(4, 2, 0)->toHttpValue();                      // returns ;path="/";secure;samesite=lax
echo $field->removeByKeys('expire', 'httponly', 'max-age')->toHttpValue(); // returns ;path="/";secure;samesite=lax

Automatic conversion

For all containers, to ease instantiation the following automatic conversion are applied on the member argument of each modifying methods.

If the submitted type is:

  • a StructuredField implementing object, it will be passed as is
  • an iterable structure, it will be converted to an InnerList instance using InnerList::new
  • otherwise, it is converted into an Item using the Item::new named constructor.

If no conversion is possible an InvalidArgument exception will be thrown.

This means that both constructs below built equal objects

use Bakame\Http\StructuredFields\Dictionary;
use Bakame\Http\StructuredFields\Item;
use Bakame\Http\StructuredFields\Token;

echo Dictionary::new()
    ->add('a', InnerList::new(
    ->prepend('b', Item::false())
    ->append('c', Item::fromDateString('2022-12-23 13:00:23'))

echo Dictionary::new()
    ->add('a', [Token::fromString('bar'), '42', 42, 42.0])
    ->prepend('b', false)
    ->append('c', new DateTimeImmutable('2022-12-23 13:00:23'))

 // both will return 'b=?0, a=(bar "42" 42 42.0), c=@1671800423

Of course, it is possible to mix both notations.


To create OuterList and InnerList instances you can use the new named constructor which takes a single variadic parameter $members:

use Bakame\Http\StructuredFields\InnerList;
use Bakame\Http\StructuredFields\ByteSequence;

$list = InnerList::new(
    ByteSequence::fromDecoded('Hello World'),

echo $list->toHttpValue(); //'(:SGVsbG8gV29ybGQ=: 42.0 42)'
echo $list;                //'(:SGVsbG8gV29ybGQ=: 42.0 42)'

Once again, the builder pattern can be used via a combination of the new named constructor and the use any of the following modifying methods.

$list->unshift(...$members): static;
$list->push(...$members): static;
$list->insert(int $key, ...$members): static;
$list->replace(int $key, $member): static;
$list->remove(int ...$key): static;

as shown below

use Bakame\Http\StructuredFields\ByteSequence;
use Bakame\Http\StructuredFields\InnerList;

$list = InnerList::new()
    ->insert(1, 42.0)
    ->replace(0, ByteSequence::fromDecoded('Hello World'));

echo $list->toHttpValue(); //'(:SGVsbG8gV29ybGQ=: 42.0 42)'
echo $list;                //'(:SGVsbG8gV29ybGQ=: 42.0 42)'

Adding and updating parameters

To ease working with instances that have a Parameters object attached to, the following methods are added:

use Bakame\Http\StructuredFields\ByteSequence;
use Bakame\Http\StructuredFields\InnerList;
use Bakame\Http\StructuredFields\Item;
use Bakame\Http\StructuredFields\Token;

//@type SfItemInput ByteSequence|Token|DateTimeInterface|string|int|float|bool

Item::fromAssociative(SfItemInput $value, Parameters|iterable<string, SfItemInput> $parameters): self;
Item::fromPair(array{0:SfItemInput, 1:Parameters|iterable<array{0:string, 1:SfItemInput}>} $pair): self;

InnerList::fromAssociative(iterable<SfItemInput> $value, Parameters|iterable<string, SfItemInput> $parameters): self;
InnerList::fromPair(array{0:iterable<SfItemInput>, Parameters|iterable<array{0:string, 1:SfItemInput}>} $pair): self;

The following example illustrate how to use those methods:

use Bakame\Http\StructuredFields\Dictionary;
use Bakame\Http\StructuredFields\Item;

echo Item::fromAssociative(
        ['baz' => 42]
    )->toHttpValue(), PHP_EOL;

echo Item::fromPair([
        [['baz', 42]],
    ])->toHttpValue(), PHP_EOL;

//both methods return `bar;baz=42`

Both objects provide additional modifying methods to help deal with parameters. You can attach and update the associated Parameters instance using the following methods.

$field->addParameter(string $key, mixed $value): static;
$field->appendParameter(string $key, mixed $value): static;
$field->prependParameter(string $key, mixed $value): static;
$field->withoutParameters(string ...$keys): static; // this method is deprecated as of version 1.1 use withoutParametersByKeys instead
$field->withoutAnyParameter(): static;
$field->withParameters(Parameters $parameters): static;

Since version 1.1 it is also possible to use the index of each member to perform additional modifications.

$field->pushParameters(array ...$pairs): static
$field->unshiftParameters(array ...$pairs): static
$field->insertParameters(int $index, array ...$pairs): static
$field->replaceParameter(int $index, array $pair): static
$field->withoutParametersByKeys(string ...$keys): static
$field->withoutParametersByIndices(int ...$indices): static

The $pair parameter is a tuple (ie: an array as list with exactly two members) where:

  • the first array member is the parameter $key
  • the second array member is the parameter $value

⚠️WARNING: The return value will be the parent class an NOT a Parameters instance

use Bakame\Http\StructuredFields\InnerList;
use Bakame\Http\StructuredFields\Item;

echo InnerList::new('foo', 'bar')
    ->addParameter('expire', Item::fromDateString('+30 minutes'))
    ->addParameter('path', '/')
    ->addParameter('max-age', 2500)

echo InnerList::new('foo', 'bar')
        ['expire', Item::fromDateString('+30 minutes')],
        ['path', '/'],
        ['max-age', 2500],

// both flow return the InnerList HTTP value 
// ("foo" "bar");expire=@1681538756;path="/";max-age=2500


Contributions are welcome and will be fully credited. Please see CONTRIBUTING and CODE OF CONDUCT for details.


The library:

To run the tests, run the following command from the project folder.

composer test


If you discover any security related issues, please email instead of using the issue tracker.



The package internal parser is heavily inspired by previous work done by Gapple on Structured Field Values for PHP.


The MIT License (MIT). Please see License File for more information.