November 25, 2011 0

PHP5 json_decode() with unicode characters

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Ever tried to use json_decode() to decode some JSON and found that it just returned NULL, even though the same string passed JSONLint etc? This happened to me on a recent project and I spent literally hours trying to figure out what was causing it.

Just as I’d given up and had started to hack the JSON string by hand (urgh!), I found this tweet:

@rbolgov: @sydlawrence You use non breaking space(charcode = 160) instead of usual space (charcode=32). For PHP it’s big deal.” <– thanks (source)

This was the same reason that my code was failing, here is a quick helper function I used in the project to work around this issue:

function _json_decode($str)
{
    $str = str_replace(chr(160), chr(32), $str);
    return json_decode($str);
}

Hope this saves others some time, big thanks to Syd Lawrence & Bolgov Roman for the tip!