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A Simple but Powerful Flat File Database Storage.

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v1.0.24 2019-02-24 22:55 UTC


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A Simple but Powerful Flat File Database Storage. No need for MySQL or an expensive SQL server, in fact, you just need your current site or application setup. All database entries are stored in files (formatted the way you like).

You can even modify the raw data within the files themselves without ever needing to use the API. And even better you can put all your files in version control and pass them to your team without having out-of-sync SQL databases.

Doesn't that sound awesome?

With Filebase, you are in complete control. Design your data structure the way you want. Use arrays and objects like you know how in PHP. Update and share your data with others and teams using version control. Just remember, upgrading your web/apache server is a lot less than your database server.

Works with PHP 5.6 and PHP 7+


Filebase is simple by design, but has enough features for the more advanced.


Use Composer to install package.

Run composer require tmarois/filebase:^1.0

If you do not want to use composer, download the files, and include it within your application, it does not have any dependencies, you will just need to keep it updated with any future releases.


// setting the access and configration to your database
$database = new \Filebase\Database([
    'dir' => 'path/to/database/dir'

// in this example, you would search an exact user name
// it would technically be stored as user_name.json in the directories
// if user_name.json doesn't exists get will return new empty Document
$item = $database->get('kingslayer');

// display property values
echo $item->first_name;
echo $item->last_name;
echo $item->email;

// change existing or add new properties
$item->email = '';
$item->tags  = ['php','developer','html5'];

// need to save? thats easy!

// check if a record exists and do something if it does or does not
if ($database->has('kingslayer'))
    // do some action

// Need to find all the users that have a tag for "php" ?
$users = $db->where('tags','IN','php')->results();

// Need to search for all the users who use email addresses?
$users = $db->where('email','LIKE','')->results();

(1) Config Options

The config is required when defining your database. The options are optional since they have defaults.

Usage Example (all options)

$db = new \Filebase\Database([
    'dir'            => 'path/to/database/dir',
    'backupLocation' => 'path/to/database/backup/dir',
    'format'         => \Filebase\Format\Json::class,
    'cache'          => true,
    'cache_expires'  => 1800,
    'pretty'         => true,
    'safe_filename'  => true,
    'read_only'      => false,
    'validate' => [
        'name'   => [
            'valid.type' => 'string',
            'valid.required' => true
Name Type Default Value Description
dir string current directory The directory where the database files are stored.
backupLocation string current directory (/backups) The directory where the backup zip files will be stored.
format object \Filebase\Format\Json The format class used to encode/decode data
validate array Check Validation Rules for more details
cache bool true Stores query results into cache for faster loading.
cache_expire int 1800 How long caching will last (in seconds)
pretty bool true Store the data for human readability? Pretty Print
safe_filename bool true Automatically converts the file name to a valid name (added: 1.0.13)
read_only bool false Prevents the database from creating/modifying files or directories (added: 1.0.14)

(2) Formatting

Format Class is what defines the encoding and decoding of data within your database files.

You can write your own or change the existing format class in the config. The methods in the class must be static and the class must implement \Filebase\Format\FormatInterface

The Default Format Class: JSON


Additional Format Classes: Yaml


(3) GET (and methods)

After you've loaded up your database config, then you can use the get() method to retrieve a single document of data.

If document does not exist, it will create a empty object for you to store data into. You can then call the save() method and it will create the document (or update an existing one).

// my user id
$userId = '92832711';

// get the user information by id
$item = $db->get($userId);

get() returns \Filebase\Document object and has its own methods which you can call.

Method Details
save() Saves document in current state
delete() Deletes current document (can not be undone)
toArray() Array of items in document
getId() Document Id
createdAt() Document was created (default Y-m-d H:i:s)
updatedAt() Document was updated (default Y-m-d H:i:s)
field() You can also use . dot delimiter to find values from nested arrays
isCache() (true/false) if the current document is loaded from cache
filter() Refer to the Custom Filters


// get the timestamp when the user was created
echo $db->get($userId)->createdAt();

// grabbing a specific field "tags" within the user
// in this case, tags might come back as an array ["php","html","javascript"]
$user_tags = $db->get($userId)->field('tags');

// or if "tags" is nested in the user data, such as about[tags]
$user_tags = $db->get($userId)->field('about.tags');

// and of course you can do this as well for getting "tags"
$user = $db->get($userId);
$user_tags = $user->tags;
$user_tags = $user->about['tags'];

(4) Create | Update | Delete

As listed in the above example, its very simple. Use $item->save(), the save() method will either Create or Update an existing document by default. It will log all changes with createdAt and updatedAt. If you want to replace all data within a single document pass the new data in the save($data) method, otherwise don't pass any data to allow it to save the current instance.

// this will save the current data and any changed variables
// but it will leave existing variables that you did not modify unchanged.
// This will also create a document if none exist.
$item->title = 'My Document';

// This will replace all data within the document
// Allows you to reset the document and put in fresh data
// Ignoring any above changes or changes to variables, since
// This sets its own within the save method.
    'title' => 'My Document'

// This will delete the current document
// This action can not be undone.

(5) Database Methods

$db = new \Filebase\Database($config);

Here is a list of methods you can use on the database class.

Method Details
version() Current version of your Filebase library
get($id) Refer to get()
has($id) Check if a record exist returning true/false
findAll() Returns all documents in database
count() Number of documents in database
flush(true) Deletes all documents.
flushCache() Clears all the cache
truncate() Deletes all documents. Alias of flush(true)
query() Refer to the Queries
backup() Refer to the Backups


$users = new \Filebase\Database([
    'dir' => '/storage/users',

// displays number of users in the database
echo $users->count();

// Find All Users and display their email addresses

$results = $users->findAll();
foreach($results as $user)
    echo $user->email;

    // you can also run GET methods on each user (document found)
    // Displays when the user was created.
    echo $user->createdAt();

// deletes all users in the database
// this action CAN NOT be undone (be warned)

(6) Validation (optional)

When invoking save() method, the document will be checked for validation rules (if set). These rules MUST pass in order for the document to save.

$db = new \Filebase\Database([
    'dir' => '/path/to/database/dir',
    'validate' => [
        'name'   => [
            'valid.type' => 'string',
            'valid.required' => true
        'description' => [
            'valid.type' => 'string',
            'valid.required' => false
        'emails' => [
            'valid.type'     => 'array',
            'valid.required' => true
        'config' => [
            'settings' => [
                'valid.type'     => 'array',
                'valid.required' => true

In the above example name, description, emails and config array keys would be replaced with your own that match your data. Notice that config has a nested array settings, yes you can nest validations.

Validation rules:

Name Allowed Values Description
valid.type string, str, integer, int, array Checks if the property is the current type
valid.required true, false Checks if the property is on the document

(7) Custom Filters

NOTE Custom filters only run on a single document

Item filters allow you to customize the results, and do simple querying within the same document. These filters are great if you have an array of items within one document. Let's say you store "users" as an array in users.json, then you could create a filter to show you all the users that have a specific tag, or field matching a specific value.

This example will output all the emails of users who are blocked.

// Use [data] for all items within the document
// But be sure that each array item uses the same format (otherwise except isset errors)

$users = $db->get('users')->filter('data','blocked',function($item, $status) {
    return (($item['status']==$status) ? $item['email'] : false);

// Nested Arrays?
// This uses NESTED properties. If the users array was stored as an array inside [list]
// You can also use `.` dot delimiter to get arrays from nested arrays

$users = $db->get('users')->filter('list.users','blocked',function($item, $status) {
    return (($item['status']==$status) ? $item['email'] : false);

(8) Queries

Queries allow you to search multiple documents and return only the ones that match your criteria.

If caching is enabled, queries will use findAll() and then cache results for the next run.

Note: You no longer need to call query(), you can now call query methods directly on the database class.

// Simple (equal to) Query
// return all the users that are blocked.
$users = $db->where(['status' => 'blocked'])->results();

// Stackable WHERE clauses
// return all the users who are blocked,
// AND have "php" within the tag array
$users = $db->where('status','=','blocked')

// You can also use `.` dot delimiter to use on nested keys
$users = $db->where('status.language.english','=','blocked')->results();

// Limit Example: Same query as above, except we only want to limit the results to 10
$users = $db->where('status.language.english','=','blocked')->limit(10)->results();

// Query LIKE Example: how about find all users that have a gmail account?
$usersWithGmail = $db->where('email','LIKE','')->results();

// OrderBy Example: From the above query, what if you want to order the results by nested array
$usersWithGmail = $db->where('email','LIKE','')
                     ->orderBy('', 'ASC')

// or just order the results by email address
$usersWithGmail = $db->where('email','LIKE','')
                     ->orderBy('email', 'ASC')

// OrderBy can be applied multiple times to perform a multi-sort
$usersWithGmail = $db->query()
                    ->orderBy('last_name', 'ASC')
                    ->orderBy('email', 'ASC')

// this will return the first user in the list based on ascending order of user name.
$user = $db->orderBy('name','ASC')->first();
// print out the user name
echo $user['name'];

// You can also order multiple columns as such (stacking)
$orderMultiples = $db->orderBy('field1','ASC')

// What about regex search? Finds emails within a field
$users = $db->where('email','REGEX','/[a-z\d._%+-]+@[a-z\d.-]+\.[a-z]{2,4}\b/i')->results();

// Find all users that have gmail addresses and only returning their name and age fields (excluding the rest)
$users = $db->select('name,age')->where('email','LIKE','')->results();

// Instead of returning users, how about just count how many users are found.
$totalUsers = $db->where('email','LIKE','')->count();

// You can delete all documents that match the query (BULK DELETE)

// Delete all items that match query and match custom filter
    return ($item->name == 'John' && $item->email == '');


// ability to sort the results by created at or updated at times
$documents = $db->orderBy('__created_at', 'DESC')->results();
$documents = $db->orderBy('__updated_at', 'DESC')->results();

// search for items that match the (internal) id
$documents = $db->where('__id', 'IN', ['id1', 'id2'])->results();

To run the query use results() or if you only want to return the first item use first()

Query Methods:

These methods are optional and they are stackable

Method Arguments Details
select() array or string (comma separated) Select only the fields you wish to return (for each document), usage: field1,field2
where() mixed array for simple "equal to" OR where($field, $operator, $value)
andWhere() mixed see where(), uses the logical AND
orWhere() mixed see where(), this uses the logical OR
limit() int limit, int offset How many documents to return, and offset
orderBy() field , sort order Order documents by a specific field and order by ASC or DESC
delete() Closure Ability to Bulk-delete all items that match

The below methods execute the query and return results (do not try to use them together)

Method Details
count() Counts and returns the number of documents in results.
first() Returns only the first document in results.
last() Returns only the last document in results.
results() This will return all the documents found and their data as an array. Passing the argument of false will be the same as resultDocuments() (returning the full document objects)
resultDocuments() This will return all the documents found and their data as document objects, or you can do results(false) which is the alias.

Comparison Operators:

Name Details
= or == Equality
=== Strict Equality
!= Not Equals
NOT Not Equals (same as !=)
!== Strict Not Equals
> Greater than
>= Greater than or equal
< Less than
<= Less than or equal
IN Checks if the value is within a array
LIKE case-insensitive regex expression search
NOT LIKE case-insensitive regex expression search (opposite)
REGEX Regex search

(9) Caching

If caching is enabled, it will automatically store your results from queries into sub-directories within your database directory.

Cached queries will only be used if a specific saved cache is less than the expire time, otherwise it will use live data and automatically replace the existing cache for next time use.

(10) Database Backups

By default you can backup your database using $db->backup()->create(), this will create a .zip file of your entire database based on your dir path.


These methods can be used when invoking backup() on your Database.

  • create() Creates a backup of your database (in your backup location .zip)
  • clean() Purges all existing backups (.zip files in your backup location)
  • find() Returns an array of all existing backups (array key by time() when backup was created)
  • rollback() Restore an existing backup (latest available), replaces existing database dir


// invoke your database
$database = new \Filebase\Database([
    'dir' => '/storage/users',
    'backupLocation' => '/storage/backup',

// create a new backup of your database
// will look something like /storage/backup/

// delete all existing backups

// get a list of all existing backups (organized from new to old)
$backups = $database->backup()->find();

// restore an existing backup (latest backup available)

Why Filebase?

Filebase was built for the flexibility to help manage simple data storage without the hassle of a heavy database engine. The concept of Filebase is to provide very intuitive API methods, and make it easy for the developer to maintain and manage (even on a large scale).

Inspired by Flywheel and Flinetone.

How Versions Work

Versions are as follows: Major.Minor.Patch

  • Major: Rewrites with completely new code-base.
  • Minor: New Features/Changes that breaks compatibility.
  • Patch: New Features/Fixes that does not break compatibility.

Filebase will work-hard to be backwards-compatible when possible.

Sites and Users of Filebase

If you are using Filebase – send in a pull request and we will add your project here.


Anyone can contribute to Filebase. Please do so by posting issues when you've found something that is unexpected or sending a pull request for improvements.


Filebase is open-sourced software licensed under the MIT license.