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PHP Data Types

PHP Data Types

Mastering PHP Data Types: A Comprehensive Guide with Real-World Examples

As a robust and flexible scripting language employed in web development, PHP plays a pivotal role. Mastery of the diverse data types within PHP is essential, contributing to the creation of code that is both efficient and effective. This article provides a comprehensive guide to PHP data types, including examples, to help you master this essential aspect of the language.

Scalar Types

Scalar data types hold single values and are the most basic building blocks of any program. PHP has four primary scalar types:

  • Integer (int): Represents whole numbers, including positive, negative, and zero.
  • Float (double): Represents numbers with decimal points.
  • String (string): Represents sequences of characters enclosed in single or double quotes.
  • Boolean (bool): Represents truth values, either TRUE or FALSE.


$age = 25; // integer
$price = 12.99; // float
$name = "John Doe"; // string
$is_active = true; // boolean

Compound Types

Compound data types hold collections of other values. PHP offers two main compound types:

  • Array (array): An ordered collection of values indexed by numerical keys or associative keys (strings).
  • Object (object): A collection of properties (variables) and methods (functions) grouped together under a class name.


$fruits = array("apple", "banana", "orange"); // array
$user = new User(); // object
$user->name = "Jane Doe"; // accessing object property
$user->greet(); // calling object method

Special Types

PHP has two special data types that differ from the typical scalar or compound types:

  • Null (null): Represents the absence of a value.
  • Resource (resource): Represents an external resource like a file or database connection.


$variable = null; // null
$file = fopen("data.txt", "r"); // resource

Type Casting

You can explicitly convert a variable from one data type to another using the settype function or type casting operators like (int), (float), (string), and (bool).


$number = (int) "123"; // convert string to integer
$price = (float) $age; // convert integer to float
$is_valid = (bool) $variable; // convert null to boolean

Dynamic Typing vs. Static Typing

Unlike some other languages, PHP is dynamically typed. This means that variable types are not explicitly declared and are automatically determined at runtime based on the value assigned. However, PHP supports optional type declarations using keywords like int, string, and bool for better code clarity and static type checking.


Understanding PHP data types is crucial for writing clean, efficient, and maintainable code. This guide provides a solid foundation for exploring the different types available, their uses, and how to convert them between each other. As you practice and explore these concepts further, you will gain a deeper understanding of PHP’s data handling capabilities and be able to write more effective and robust applications.

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