convert string to php arguments

so suppose I have a function:

function j($a, $b){ return $a + $b; }

and then I put the intended arguments of the function into a string:

$str = '1,3';

is there a way to make the function treat the single string argument as if it were the arguments that the programmer inserted into the when you do


instead of having the function treat the $str as a single string argument, it fetches the content of the string and treats it as if the programmer wrote j(1,3) instead of j($str)

also this is a rather simple example, but I'd like it to work for even more complicated argument strings involving arrays, multidimensional arrays, associative arrays, array within arrays, as well as string arguments that have commas in it (so just exploding by comma is not really feasible)

also I'd rather not use eval() in the solution


Also I'm trying to get this to work on any function not just mine (and not just this specific function which is just a worthless example function) so preferably the operation is to be done outside of the function

-------------Problems Reply------------

call_user_func_array('j', explode(',', $str));

I have no idea how you want to make this work for "more complex argument strings including arrays of arrays", since it's hard to express those as strings. If you can format whatever string you have into an array though, for example using JSON strings and json_decode, call_user_func_array is your friend.

make all parameter but except the first one optional and then use list() and explode() if the first parameter is a string (or contains ,):

function j($a, $b=null){
list($a,$b) = explode(',',$a)
return $a + $b;

this is just a basic example, but the principle should be clear:

  • check if one of the arguments is composed of multiple parameters
  • if so, parse it on your own to get the single parameters

function j($a, $b = 0){ // make second arg optional
if (! $b) { // is second arg specified and not zero
if (strpos($a, ',') !== false){ // has provided first arg a comma
list($first, $second) = explode(',' $a); // yes then get two values from it
return $first + $second; // return the result
else {
return $a + $b; // two args were passed, return the result


Now your function will support both formats, with one argument eg:

$str = '1,3'

as well as two arguments:

j(5, 10);

This should work for a single, comma-separated string:

function j($str){
list($a, $b) = explode(',', $str);
return $a + $b;

What do you want to sum in a multi-dimensional array? All of the values?

If yes: You only have to check the type of your argument (e.g. using is_array()) and then iterate through it. When it is multi-dimensional, call your function recursively.

This works :)

function f($str, $delimiter = ';')
$strargs = explode($delimiter, $str);
$args = array();
foreach($strargs as $item)
eval("\$args[] = " . $item. ";");
// $args contains all arguments

Check it:

f("6;array(8,9);array(array(1,0,8), 5678)");

Category:php Views:0 Time:2011-10-24

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