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12.11. Exchanging Data with WDDX

12.11.3. Discussion

WDDX stands for Web Distributed Data eXchange and was one of the first XML formats to share information in a language-neutral fashion. Invented by the company behind ColdFusion, WDDX gained a lot of popularity in 1999, but doesn't have much momentum at the present.

Instead, many people have begun to use SOAP as a replacement for WDDX. But WDDX does have the advantage of simplicity, so if the information you're exchanging is basic, WDDX may be a good choice. Also, due to its origins, it's very easy to read and write WDDX packets in ColdFusion, so if you need to communicate with a ColdFusion application, WDDX is helpful.

WDDX requires the expat library, available with Apache 1.3.7 and higher or from http://www.jclark.com/xml/expat.html. Configure PHP with --with-xml and --enable-wddx.

The example in the Solution produces the following XML (formatted to be easier to read):

<wddxPacket version='1.0'>
        <var name='a'><string>string data</string></var>
        <var name='b'><number>123</number></var>
        <var name='c'><string>rye</string></var>
        <var name='d'><string>pastrami</string></var>

Variables are wrapped inside <var> tags with the variable name assigned as the value for the name attribute. Inside there is another set of tags that indicate the variable type: string, number, dateTime, boolean, array, binary, or recordSet. Finally, you have the data itself.

You can also serialize one variable at a time using wddx_serialize_value :

// one variable
$s = wddx_serialize_value('Serialized', 'An optional comment');

This results in the following XML:

<wddxPacket version='1.0'>
    <comment>An optional comment</comment>

12.11.4. See Also

Documentation on WDDX at http://www.php.net/wddx; more information at http://www.openwddx.org; Chapter 20, "Sharing Data with WDDX," from Programming ColdFusion, by Rob Brooks-Bilson (O'Reilly).

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