I'm tying to convert from this formatted string:

$filtersStr = "id:1||name:alex";


['id' => 1,'name' => 'alex']

My solution for now:

foreach(explode('||', $filtersStr) as $filter){
            list($k, $v) = explode(':', $filter);
            $filters[ $k ] = $v;

I'm looking for a more elegant way.


3 Answers 3


You can use the amazing parse_str() function. It does everything you need. But you are using different delimiters for key => value pairs. If you change those to & and =, you can do like this:

$filtersStr = 'id=1&name=alex';

parse_str($filtersStr, $filters);

And $filters will have what you want. But that's not the case, so, one could do this:

        array('%', '=', '&', '||', ':'),
        array('%26', '%3D', '%26', '&', '='),

The characters %, = and & will have a special meaning. They have to be replaced with their URL-codes. parse_str() works on URL-encoded strings and leaving those characters unchanged would cause all sorts of bugs. The order of the elements in the array is VERY important.

Here's how it works:

  • Replace % by %26
    It must be the first of you will be replacing % everywhere and break it
  • Replace = by %3D
    This guarantees that no meaningful = will be replaced
  • Replace & by %26
  • Replace || by &
  • Replace : by =
    At this point, your 'id:1||name:alex' will be 'id=1&name=alex'
  • Hand it over to parse_str()

And done! I prefer the first method instead of this kludge. Use this second one with extreme care!

In a comment, it was explained that it's usage was like this:


If you can change the URL, throw this whole code away and do like this:


This will have the exact structure you wish. Simply use $_GET['filter'] to access all values. And done! An alternative with 0 lines of code!

  • \$\begingroup\$ this have to be one parameter in url like /arena?filter=id:1||content_name:alex&anotherParam=smth \$\endgroup\$ Commented Aug 26, 2015 at 9:28
  • \$\begingroup\$ Yep get to this 5 min ago but thanks \$\endgroup\$ Commented Aug 26, 2015 at 9:50

If you're writing the structure on string formatting, then I'd suggest considering JSON as a better alternative.

It's a better alternative than , because, its support is inbuilt into many languages, including PHP with the json_encode and json_decode functions.

Consider this:

$object = ['id' => 1,'name' => 'alex'];
$JSON = json_encode($object);



$JSON = $DAL->retrieve_whatever();
$object = json_decode($JSON);


Alternatives are good because we find the solution handy, which are well described by @Quill and @Ismael,

If you have decided to go with the current format of your string, here is the alternative i wrote,

foreach(explode('||', $filtersStr) as $val)
    $filters[strtok($val, ':')] = trim(strstr($val, ':'), ':');
}   unset($val);

Here strtok($val, ':') will stop at first : it encounters, in our case it will be id and name, so no : will be in final array keys.

strtok($val, ':') will get the whole string after first : it encounters and trim will clear suffixed :s.

The benefit is that when it encounters values like,

$filtersStr = 'id:1||name:alex:mercer';

It outputs as is,

    [id] => 1
    [name] => alex:mercer

Other results are same.


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