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Bug #19140 foreach fails on empty or unitialized variable
Submitted: 2002-08-28 04:37 UTC Modified: 2012-09-01 15:51 UTC
Avg. Score:2.0 ± 0.0
Reproduced:1 of 1 (100.0%)
Same Version:0 (0.0%)
Same OS:1 (100.0%)
From: jc at mega-bucks dot co dot jp Assigned:
Status: Not a bug Package: Arrays related
PHP Version: 4.2.2 OS: Red Hat Linux 7.2
Private report: No CVE-ID: None
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 [2002-08-28 04:37 UTC] jc at mega-bucks dot co dot jp
The following code generates an error/warning:

$a = return_nothing();
foreach ($a as $val) {
  echo "hi";

function return_nothing() {


Warning: Invalid argument supplied for foreach() in test.php on line 5

The documentation does not state what the correct/expected behaviour of foreach should be in the case of an unitialized array. It would be nice if foreach could recognize unitialized variables as being equivalent to "empty" arrays ...


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 [2002-08-28 04:41 UTC]
"an uninitialized array"? i don't see anything like that in your example.
there's just one nonexistent (null, if you must) variable. no array.

 [2002-08-28 04:48 UTC] jc at mega-bucks dot co dot jp
$a is an unitialized variable. It is not an empty variable ($a = "").

It is declared but not initialized. It has no value since the function returns nothing.

The problem is that PHP cannot tell that $a is supposed to be an array since $a has no value or content whatsoever.
 [2002-08-28 05:11 UTC] jc at mega-bucks dot co dot jp
What is the documented/expected behaviour for foreach on "null" arrays?

PHP has not problems with statements such as:

echo "$a";

So I don't see why it should have a problem with:

foreach ($a as $val) {};

Actaully I *do* understand why it is a problem :) I just would like it to suggest that foreach be able to handle null arrays. It would be *such* a nice feature ;)
 [2002-08-28 05:17 UTC]
if you insist on neglectful coding, lower your error_reporting level.

 [2002-08-28 05:32 UTC] jc at mega-bucks dot co dot jp
Neglectful coding? Why do you consider it neglectful coding if I do this for an array but good coding for a string? PHP treats null strings as empty strings, why doesn't it do the same for arrays?

All I want to know is, what is the documented behaviour for foreach on a null array. If there is no documented behaviour, let's add to the documentation. Something like:

"foreach will fail on an unitialized (null) array".

I had assumed that since PHP is usually treats null strings as empty strings it would do the same with null arrays. I was wrong. I tried to find documentation on what foreach will do in the case of a null array and could not find any.

I agree with you that this is neglectfull coding. It would be nice if there was documentation to back it up :)
 [2002-08-28 05:41 UTC]
FYI: I clearified this in the manual, it will show up in a few days online.

 [2012-09-01 15:45 UTC] mail at waclawjacek dot com
I second jc. It would be nice not to have to do if ( is_array() ) before every 
foreach(), like you don't have to with while(), when the variable is null.
 [2012-09-01 15:51 UTC]
Often that points to a bug. If you are ok with it, just cast it. No need for an 
is_array() check. eg.

foreach( (array)$a as $val ) ...
 [2012-09-01 15:54 UTC] mail at waclawjacek dot com
I found this idea somewhere on the net, thanks, it's pretty neat, still, it was a 
surprise to find out this is how foreach() behaves after years of using while() 
to loop through an array of database results.
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