Tag Archives: Foo bar

You think you know PHP. Quiz Results!

With 400+ answers here are the results. First I want to thank you for participating in the quiz and congrats for the 16 users that answered correctly to all the questions!

1. What will be the output of the following code?

echo date('Y-m-d', strtotime('-1 month ago'));
  • Error
  • One month ago from the current date and time
  • One month in the future from the current date and time correct answer (ref)

Answers of the first question

Continue reading You think you know PHP. Quiz Results!

5 PHP String Functions You Need to Know

Strings in PHP

The Task

First of all what we’d like to achieve? The task is to convert a string, most of the cases single word, by capitalize the first letter. In my case I’ve the world countries names all lower cased, while I need them with first letter capitalized. In example “united states” must become “United States”, but not “United states” or “UNITED STATES”. So here began the journey into PHP string functions, especially those for capitalization!

1. ucwords

The first thing you find in the PHP Manual is the ucwords function. It changes the first letter to a capital letter, but it does not do the job. Why? Well let me show you an example.

$str1 = 'foo bar';
$str2 = 'Foo bar';
$str3 = 'FOO BAR';
$str4 = 'фуу бар';
echo ucwords($str1); // Foo Bar
echo ucwords($str2); // Foo Bar
echo ucwords($str3); // FOO BAR
echo ucwords($str4); // фуу бар

Here we have four strings. A lower cased, an upper cased, a mixed cased and … a lower cased Cyrillic string. First of all the main reason why ucwords doesn’t fit here is because of the Cyrillic string. Whatever non-Latin string you have you can forget about capitalization. However the other strings conversions are also interesting. Take a look at the third string! Here the string remains “FOO BAR” instead of going “Foo Bar”, which simply means that this function only looks, and hopefully changes, the first letter.

So here we have two questions. How can we overcome the Cyrillic problem and how to “normalize” the UPPER CASE string?

2. ucfirst

This is another useful function in PHP. ucfirst as you may guess from its name converts a string by only changing its first letter. So “Foo bar” will remain “Foo bar”, while with ucwords it has become “Foo Bar”. Let’s see what this function does:

$str1 = 'foo bar';
$str2 = 'Foo bar';
$str3 = 'FOO BAR';
$str4 = 'фуу бар';
echo ucfirst($str1); // Foo bar
echo ucfirst($str2); // Foo bar
echo ucfirst($str3); // FOO BAR
echo ucfirst($str4); // фуу бар

Here even the first string has only one capital letter – “foo bar” became “Foo bar”, and yet again we’ve the Cyrillic string unchanged. It simply doesn’t help us here!

3. mb_convert_case

As a PHP developer you know what the “mb_” prefix means – multibyte. This is quite useful. You can convert the string whatever the encoding is, so perhaps we can overcome the Cyrillic problem. But before proceeding to tests, let’s take a look at the parameters of this function.

The first thing to note here is that mb_convert_case doesn’t contain the case in its name – upper or lower. There’s a second parameter, after the first which is the string itself, who setups that. Note that here you don’t have the typical camel case or capitals parameter name, but MB_CASE_TITLE (as you know in English the title is always capitalized):

echo mb_convert_case($str, MB_CASE_TITLE, ...

And a third one which specifies the encoding:

echo mb_convert_case($str, MB_CASE_TITLE, 'utf-8')

Now let’s see what we can achieve with it:

$str1 = 'foo bar';
$str2 = 'Foo bar';
$str3 = 'FOO BAR';
$str4 = 'фуу бар';
echo mb_convert_case($str1, MB_CASE_TITLE, 'utf-8'); // Foo Bar
echo mb_convert_case($str2, MB_CASE_TITLE, 'utf-8'); // Foo Bar
echo mb_convert_case($str3, MB_CASE_TITLE, 'utf-8'); // Foo Bar
echo mb_convert_case($str4, MB_CASE_TITLE, 'utf-8'); // Фуу Бар

As you can see now the Cyrillic problem doesn’t exists and mb_convert_case is intelligent enough to change “FOO BAR” into “Foo Bar” – as I said this is the English style titling. That is by no means the solution when you deal with capitalization with different encoding.

However there is another approach to overcome the all UPPER CASE conversion problem. A possible solution is to convert the string first to a lower case string.

4. strtolower

strtolower is very useful PHP string function and perhaps any PHP developer has used it at least once. But yet again – it does not do the job. Again because of the encoding problem.

echo strtolower('ФУУ БАР'); // #*&$(#*%#

As you can see the Cyrillic string cannot be lower cased! Let’s search again into the “mb_” universe.

5. mb_strtolower

This is the function. Again you’ve to specify the encoding:

echo mb_strtolower('ФУУ БАР', 'utf-8')


It doesn’t matter whether you’re native English speaker or not. Most of the web sites are multilingual and you cannot be sure what happens when you convert strings in Alphabets different from the Latin. Thus be careful even when everything seems to be OK with Latin string tests.