Printing out JSON with PHP.

In this beginner’s tutorial, I will show you how to print out JSON using PHP. I will also show you how to set the correct Content-Type header.

Let’s take a look at the following PHP script:

//Build our example data.
//In this case, it is an array.
$data = array(
    'name' => 'John Doe',
    'dob' => '1987-12-12',
    'gender' => 'male',
    'nationality' => 'Ireland'

//Convert our data into a JSON string.
$json = json_encode($data);

//Set the Content-Type header to application/json.
header('Content-Type: application/json');

//Output the JSON string to the browser.
echo $json;

In the example above:

  • We constructed our data. This is the data that we want to send back to the client in a JSON format. As you can see, it is a simple PHP array that contains information about a person called “John Doe”.
  • We then converted our PHP array into a JSON string using the json_encode function. This function takes in a PHP value and return it’s JSON representation.
  • After that, we used the header function to set the Content-Type to application/json. This is very important, as without it, certain clients will not be able to detect the fact that we are returning JSON data. It is always a good idea to tell the client what type of data you are returning.
  • Finally, we printed out our JSON string.

If you load the PHP script in your browser, you will see the following output:

{"name":"John Doe","dob":"1987-12-12","gender":"male","nationality":"Ireland"}

You can also check the “Content-Type” of your script by using your browser’s developer tools:

PHP application/json

As you can see, our script is responding with a Content-Type of application/json.

To test your PHP script out, you can send an AJAX request to it and log the response to the browser console:

    url: 'json.php',
    dataType: 'json',
    success: function(data){

In the JavaScript above, I used the JQuery library to send an AJAX request to our PHP script. I then used the console.log method to log our JSON object to the console:

JSON object w/ console.log

As you can see, the JSON data that we outputted with our PHP script is now available as a JSON object in the browser.

Hopefully, you found this short tutorial to be useful!