PHP: Does SimpleXMLElement have toString() method? No, better use asXML()!

SimpleXML is a PHP extension that “provides a very simple and easily usable toolset to convert XML to an object” [1]. Thus you can pass a link to an XML file and SimpleXML will return an object.

$xml = simplexml_load_file('path_to_the_file');

Sometimes you’d need to dump or save the entire XML as a string, but there’s no toString method! As you can see $xml is an instance of the SimpleXMLElement class.

var_dump($xml); // object(SimpleXMLElement)...

Actually if you take a closer look:


will return “Call to an undefined method toString()”, which is frustrating because the developers community is used to use toString() when converting an object into a string.

PHP's SimpleXML doesn't have toString() method. asXML() is used instead!

The solution

In fact there’s a method doing exactly what’s needed. This is SimpleXMLElement::asXML

As described in the manual page: “SimpleXMLElement::asXML — Return a well-formed XML string based on SimpleXML element” [2].

Besides that it does exactly what’s needed it sounds irrelevant, because you’ve an XML object and the name “asXML” doesn’t describe correctly what’s expected.

$xml->asXML() // ?!
  1. SimpleXMLElement::asXML
  2. SimpleXML Introduction

2 thoughts on “PHP: Does SimpleXMLElement have toString() method? No, better use asXML()!

  1. Pingback:
  2. because it’s “__toString()” not “toString()” which permits you to do “echo (string) $node” on the SimpleXMLElement

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *