Automatically cast JSON columns to rich PHP objects in Laravel using Spatie's data-transfer-object class

v2.2.1 2022-08-09 08:56 UTC

This package is auto-updated.

Last update: 2023-01-09 10:02:27 UTC


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Laravel is awesome. Spatie's data transfer object package for PHP is awesome. They're already good friends, but now they're taking their relationship to the next level 💕

Have you ever wanted to cast your JSON columns to a value object?

This package gives you an extended version of Spatie's DataTransferObject class, called CastableDataTransferObject.

Under the hood it implements Laravel's Castable interface with a Laravel custom cast that handles serializing between the DataTransferObject (or a compatible array) and your JSON database column.

For an in-depth explanation of what it's actually doing and the motivation behind it, check out the blog post that spawned it.

This package has also been featured on Laravel News!


You can install the package via composer:

composer require jessarcher/laravel-castable-data-transfer-object


1. Create your CastableDataTransferObject

Check out the readme for Spatie's data transfer object package to find out more about what their DataTransferObject class can do.

namespace App\Values;

use JessArcher\CastableDataTransferObject\CastableDataTransferObject;

class Address extends CastableDataTransferObject
    public string $street;
    public string $suburb;
    public string $state;

(Note: I like to put these in App\Values because I'm using them as a value object and not just a plain DTO. Feel free to put it anywhere you like!)

2. Configure your Eloquent attribute to cast to it:

Note that this should be a jsonb or json column in your database schema.

namespace App\Models;

use App\Values\Address;
use Illuminate\Database\Eloquent\Model;

class User extends Model
    protected $casts = [
        'address' => Address::class,

And that's it! You can now pass either an instance of your Address class, or even just an array with a compatible structure. It will automatically be cast between your class and JSON for storage and the data will be validated on the way in and out.

$user = User::create([
    // ...
    'address' => [
        'street' => '1640 Riverside Drive',
        'suburb' => 'Hill Valley',
        'state' => 'California',

$residents = User::where('address->suburb', 'Hill Valley')->get();

But the best part is that you can decorate your class with domain-specific methods to turn it into a powerful value object.





echo (string) $user->address;

Using defaults for null database values

By default, if a database value is null, then the model attribute will also be null. However, sometimes you might want to instantiate the attribute with some default values.

To achieve this, you may provide an additional nullable Cast Parameter to ensure the caster gets instantiated.

namespace App\Models;

use App\Values\Address;
use Illuminate\Database\Eloquent\Model;

class User extends Model
    protected $casts = [
        'settings' => Settings::class . ':nullable',

This will ensure that the Settings caster is instantiated even when the settings column in the database is null.

You may then specify some default values in the cast which will be used instead.

use JessArcher\CastableDataTransferObject\CastableDataTransferObject;

class Settings extends CastableDataTransferObject 
    public string $title = 'Default';

Controlling serialization

You may provide the caster with flags to be used for serialization by adding the CastUsingJsonFlags attribute to your object:

use JessArcher\CastableDataTransferObject\CastableDataTransferObject;
use JessArcher\CastableDataTransferObject\CastUsingJsonFlags;

#[CastUsingJsonFlags(encode: JSON_PRESERVE_ZERO_FRACTION)]
class Address extends CastableDataTransferObject {}


composer test


Please see CHANGELOG for more information what has changed recently.


Please see CONTRIBUTING for details.


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



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

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