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mysqlnd plugins and json

Note: This article was originally published at Planet PHP on 14 September 2011.
Planet PHP

Some time ago I was already writing about the power included with mysqlnd plugins and how they can they can be used transparently to help you with your requirements without changing your code. But well, as mysqlnd plugins in fact are regular PHP extensions they can export functions to the PHP userland and providing complete new functionality.

In my spare time I'm currently writing a shiny Web 2.0 application where I'm heavily using AJAX-like things, so what I do quite often in this application is, basically this: Check some pre-conditions (permissions etc.) then select some data from the database, do a fetch_all to get the complete result set as an array and run it through json_encode; or to have it in code:

query("SELECT a,b,c,d FROM t WHERE e=23"); echo json_encode($result-fetch_all()); ?

Of course that example is simplified as I'm using the Symfony 2 framework for this project. When writing a similar function for the 5th time I wondered whether I really need to create the temporary array and all these temporary elements in it.

So I wrote a mysqlnd plugin.

The mysqlnd_query_to_json plugin (hey what a name!) provides a single function, mysqlnd_query_to_json(), which takes two parameters, a connection identifier and an SQL query, and returns a JSON string containing the result set. The connection identifier can be a mysql resource, a mysqli object or even a PDO object. The resulting JSON string will be created directly from the network buffer without the need of temporary complex structures. Using the above example would create code like this:

The plugin, which you can find here, requires PHP 5.4 and has a few limitations as it knows nothing about MySQL bitfields or escaping of unicode characters for creating fully valid JSON data and Andrey called it, for good reasons, a hack. Neither did I benchmark it, yet as I merely share it to show what's possible and maybe start some discussion on what is actually needed.

If you want to learn more on these topics I also suggest to check the MySQL Webinar page frequently as Ulf is going to hold a Webinar on myslqnd plugins in October!