• Command line usage
  • Executing PHP files

  • Executing PHP files
  • Executing PHP files

    Executing PHP files

    There are three different ways of supplying the
    SAPI with PHP
    code to be executed:

    1. Tell PHP to execute a certain file.

      $ php my_script.php
      $ php -f my_script.php

      Both ways (whether using the -f switch or not) execute the file
      my_script.php. Note that there is no
      restriction on which files can be executed; in particular, the
      filename is not required have a .php extension.


      If arguments need to be passed to the script when
      using -f , the first
      argument must be .

    2. Pass the PHP code to execute directly on the
      command line.

      $ php -r 'print_r(get_defined_constants());'

      Special care has to be taken with regard to shell
      variable substitution and usage of quotes.


      Read the example carefully: there are no beginning
      or ending tags! The -r
      switch simply does not need them, and using them will lead to a
      parse error.

    3. Provide the PHP code to execute via standard input

      This gives the powerful ability to create PHP code
      dynamically and feed it to the binary, as shown in this (fictional)

      $ some_application | some_filter | php | sort -u > final_output.txt

    You cannot combine any of the three ways to execute code.

    As with every shell application, the PHP binary
    accepts a number of arguments; however, the PHP script can also
    receive further arguments. The number of arguments that can be
    passed to your script is not limited by PHP (and although the shell
    has a limit to the number of characters which can be passed, this
    is not in general likely to be hit). The arguments passed to the
    script are available in the global array $argv. The first index (zero) always
    contains the name of the script as called from the command line.
    Note that, if the code is executed in-line using the command line
    switch -r , the value of
    $argv[0] will be just a dash
    (). The same is true if the code is executed via a pipe
    from STDIN.

    A second global variable, $argc, contains the number of elements
    in the $argv array (not the number of arguments passed to the

    As long as the arguments to be passed to the script
    do not start with the character, there’s nothing special
    to watch out for. Passing an argument to the script which starts
    with a will cause trouble because the PHP interpreter
    thinks it has to handle it itself, even before executing the
    script. To prevent this, use the argument list separator
    . After this separator has been parsed by PHP, every
    following argument is passed untouched to the script.

    # This will not execute the given code but will show the PHP usage
    $ php -r 'var_dump($argv);' -h
    Usage: php [options] [-f] <file> [args...]
    # This will pass the '-h' argument to the script and prevent PHP from showing its usage
    $ php -r 'var_dump($argv);' -- -h
    array(2) {
      string(1) "-"
      string(2) "-h"

    However, on Unix systems there’s another way of
    using PHP for shell scripting: make the first line of the script
    start with #!/usr/bin/php (or whatever the path to your
    PHP CLI binary is if
    different). The rest of the file should contain normal PHP code
    within the usual PHP starting and end tags. Once the execution
    attributes of the file are set appropriately (e.g. chmod +x test), the script can be executed like
    any other shell or perl script:

    Example #1 Execute PHP script as shell


    Assuming this file is named test in
    the current directory, it is now possible to do the following:

    $ chmod +x test
    $ ./test -h -- foo
    array(4) {
      string(6) "./test"
      string(2) "-h"
      string(2) "--"
      string(3) "foo"

    As can be seen, in this case no special care needs
    to be taken when passing parameters starting with .

    The PHP executable can be used to run PHP scripts
    absolutely independent of the web server. On Unix systems, the
    special #! (or “shebang”) first line should be added to
    PHP scripts so that the system can automatically tell which program
    should run the script. On Windows platforms, it’s possible to
    associate php.exe with the double click
    option of the .php extension, or a batch file can be
    created to run scripts through PHP. The special shebang first line
    for Unix does no harm on Windows (as it’s formatted as a PHP
    comment), so cross platform programs can be written by including
    it. A simple example of writing a command line PHP program is shown

    Example #2 Script intended to be run from command line


    if ($argc != || in_array($argv[1], array('--help''-help''-h''-?'))) {

    This is a command line PHP script with one option.

      <?php echo $argv[0]; ?> <option>

      <option> can be some word you would like
      to print out. With the --help, -help, -h,
      or -? options, you can get this help.

    } else {

    The script above includes the Unix shebang first
    line to indicate that this file should be run by PHP. We are
    working with a CLI version here, so
    no HTTP
    headers will be output.

    The program first checks that there is the required
    one argument (in addition to the script name, which is also
    counted). If not, or if the argument was –help , -help , -h or -? , the help message is printed out,
    using $argv[0] to dynamically print the
    script name as typed on the command line. Otherwise, the argument
    is echoed out exactly as received.

    To run the above script on Unix, it must be made
    executable, and called simply as script.php
    or script.php
    . On Windows, a batch file similar to the following can
    be created for this task:

    Example #3 Batch file to run a command line PHP script

    @echo OFF
    "C:\php\php.exe" script.php %*

    Assuming the above program is named script.php, and the CLI php.exe is in C:\php\php.exe, this batch file will run it,
    passing on all appended options: script.bat
    or script.bat

    See also the Readline extension documentation for more functions
    which can be used to enhance command line applications in PHP.

    On Windows, PHP can be configured to run without
    the need to supply the C:\php\php.exe
    or the .php extension, as described in Command Line PHP on Microsoft Windows.