Array queries for PHP 5.3

v1.1.1 2013-06-11 19:45 UTC


A PHP library for array queries, sorting, and more.


The main Arrch method, find(), is most commonly used and is a combination of Arrch's where(), sort(), and limit/offset options. where() and sort() can be used on their own, if needed.


We need some data to start with, preferably a large array of objects or multidimensional arrays. Here's a cross section of an example array...

// this is a LARGE array of multidimensional arrays
$data = array(
    4037 => array(
        'name'  => array(
            'first' => 'Brian',
            'last'  => 'Searchable'
        'null'  => null,
        'age'   => 27,
        'email' => 'bsearchable@example.com',
        'likes' => array(
            'color' => 'blue',
            'food'  => 'cheese',
            'sauce' => 'duck'

Find() Method

This is the method you'll probably use most often, default configuration is below.

    $data, // array of multidimensional arrays
    $options = array(
        'where'         => array(),
        'limit'         => 0,
        'offset'        => 0,
        'sort_key'      => null, // dot notated array key or object property
        'sort_order'    => 'ASC' // 'ASC' or 'DESC'
    $key = 'all' // 'all', 'first', 'last', an index of the $data array

Quick Example

Be sure to include the arrch.php file in your script or app.

include 'lib/arrch.php';

We'll use Arrch to try and find Brian using a few conditions that return true for Brian's data. You can traverse the multidimensional arrays in your query by using dot (.) notation, and use a standard collection of operators (which are listed below) to determine a match.

// this query would find our Brian, plus any other Brians over age 25
// Remember that the Arrch class is part of the Arrch namespace
$results = Arrch\Arrch::find($data, array(

    'sort_key'  => 'name.last',
    'where'     => array(
        // tests for an exact match (===)
        array('name.first', 'Brian'),

        // use an operator
        array('age', '>', 25),

), 'first');

Where Conditions

Arrch conditions are pretty flexible, and can be thought of like MySQL's AND, OR, LIKE, and IN operators. First, a list of valid operators.

// valid conditional operators
array('==', '===', '!=', '!==', '>', '<', '>=', '<=', '~');

Second, examples of valid conditions.

'where' => array(

    // OR statement
    array(array('name.first', 'likes.color'), 'blue'),

    // AND statement, including another condition
    array('age', '>', 25),

    // IN statement
    array('likes.food', array('toast', 'foie gras', 'cheese')),

    // OR/IN combined
    array(array('email', 'age'), array(27, 'goober@goob.co')),

    // Yes, you can compare to NULL
    array('null', null)


You may be wondering about the tilde (~) operator. That one is comparable to MySQL's LIKE statement. You can use it to check for similarity in strings, numbers, and even determine if an associative array key exists.

'where' => array(

    // First names that contain 'br'
    array('name.first', '~', 'br'),

    // Find folks that have a favorite food defined
    array('likes', '~', 'food')



Use this library in large-scale production environments at your own risk. Processing large arrays in runtime memory is a slow process, and you could experience major hangups when dealing with huge amounts of data. In those instances, why not stick with a legitimate database interface and solution like the PHP core extensions for MySQL, PostgreSQL, MongoDB, etc. and associated, more mature abstracted database libraries.

Arrch may find it's a niche in smaller-scale, flat-file storage environments. Of course, this library could work with any database solution, but you'd have to load the entirety of the collection into memory at once in order to query against it. That might not be a good time.

At the very least, it's fun to play around with a simple PHP solution that doesn't require MySQL. Just be honest with yourself about your project's requirements before you begin, and don't code yourself into a hole!




Available at rpnzl.com, GitHub, and Twitter.