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PHP : Function Reference : DBM Functions [deprecated]

DBM Functions [deprecated]


These functions allow you to store records stored in a dbm-style database. This type of database (supported by the Berkeley DB, » GDBM, and some system libraries, as well as a built-in flatfile library) stores key/value pairs (as opposed to the full-blown records supported by relational databases).


DBM support is deprecated and you are encouraged to use the Database (dbm-style) abstraction layer functions instead.


This extension has been removed from PHP and is no longer available as of PHP 5.0.0.


To use this functions you have to compile PHP with support for an underlying database. See the list of supported Databases.


In order to use these functions, you must compile PHP with dbm support by using the --with-db option. In addition you must ensure support for an underlying database or you can use some system libraries.

Runtime Configuration

This extension has no configuration directives defined in php.ini.

Resource Types

The function dbmopen() returns an database identifier which is used by the other dbm-functions.

Predefined Constants

This extension has no constants defined.


Example 484. DBM example


= dbmopen("lastseen", "w");
if (
dbmexists($dbm, $userid)) {
$last_seen = dbmfetch($dbm, $userid);
} else {
dbminsert($dbm, $userid, time());
dbmreplace($dbm, $userid, time());


Table of Contents

dblist — Describes the DBM-compatible library being used
dbmclose — Closes a dbm database
dbmdelete — Deletes the value for a key from a DBM database
dbmexists — Tells if a value exists for a key in a DBM database
dbmfetch — Fetches a value for a key from a DBM database
dbmfirstkey — Retrieves the first key from a DBM database
dbminsert — Inserts a value for a key in a DBM database
dbmopen — Opens a DBM database
dbmreplace — Replaces the value for a key in a DBM database

Code Examples / Notes » ref.dbm


NOTE: DBM and DBA are two different extensions which must
     be configured separately.
Hi *,
names of these functions was changed in PHP4.
Refer to
or .
Regards Jindra


Make a firstdbm.db file.
Set attribute Read and Write.
$dbm = dbmopen("firstdbm","w");
echo "<b>\$dbm: $dbm = dbmopen(\"firstdbm\", \"w\");</b>< br>";
echo "<i>".dblist()." = dblist();</i>< br>< br>";
$fruit = "apple";
$colour = "red";
if (dbmexists ($dbm, $fruit)) {
 $colour = dbmfetch ($dbm, $fruit);
 echo "\$colour: $colour = dbmfetch(\$dbm: $dbm, \$fruit: $fruit);< br>";
 $key = dbmreplace($dbm, $fruit, "green");
 echo "\$key: $key = dbmreplace(\$dbm: $dbm, \$fruit: $fruit, \"green\");< br>";
 $colour = dbmfetch ($dbm, $fruit);
 echo "\$colour: $colour = dbmfetch(\$dbm: $dbm, \$fruit: $fruit);< br>";
 if ( !dbmdelete($dbm, $fruit) ) {
   echo "False (OK) = dbmdelete(\$dbm: $dbm, \$fruit: $fruit);< br>";
 } else {
   echo "True (NOT OK) = dbmdelete(\$dbm: $dbm, \$fruit: $fruit);< br>";
 $colour = dbmfetch ($dbm, $fruit);
 echo "\$color: $colour = dbmfetch(\$dbm: $dbm, \$fruit: $fruit);< br><hr>";
 $i = 1;
 $key = dbmfirstkey($dbm);
 while ($key) {
   if ($i==1) {
     echo "\$key: $key = dbmfirstkey(\$dbm: $dbm);< br>";
   } else {
     echo "\$key: $key = dbmnextkey(\$dbm: $dbm);< br>";
   $colour = dbmfetch ($dbm, $key);
   echo "\$colour: $colour = dbmfetch(\$dbm: $dbm, \$key: $key);< br>";
   $key = dbmnextkey($dbm,$key);
} else {
 dbminsert ($dbm, $fruit, $colour);
 echo "dbminsert(\$dbm: $dbm, \$fruit: $fruit, \$colour: $colour);< br>";
 dbminsert ($dbm, "pear", "yellow");
 echo "dbminsert(\$dbm: $dbm, \"pear\", \"yellow\");< br>";
 dbminsert ($dbm, "apricot", "pink");
 echo "dbminsert(\$dbm: $dbm, \"apricot\", \"pink\");< br><hr>";
 $i = 1;
 $key = dbmfirstkey($dbm);
 while ($key) {
   if ($i==1) {
     echo "\$key: $key = dbmfirstkey(\$dbm: $dbm);< br>";
   } else {
     echo "\$key: $key = dbmnextkey(\$dbm: $dbm);< br>";
   $colour = dbmfetch ($dbm, $key);
   echo "\$colour: $colour = dbmfetch(\$dbm: $dbm, \$key: $key);< br>";
   $key = dbmnextkey($dbm,$key);
echo "< br>";
if (dbmclose ($dbm)) {
 echo "<b>True (OK) = dbmclose(\$dbm: $dbm);</b>< br>";
} else {
 echo "<b>False (NOT OK) = dbmclose(\$dbm: $dbm);</b>< br>";
The first run output:
$dbm: 1 = dbmopen("firstdbm", "w");
ndbm support enabled = dblist();
dbminsert($dbm: 1, $fruit: apple, $colour: red);
dbminsert($dbm: 1, "pear", "yellow");
dbminsert($dbm: 1, "apricot", "pink");
$key: pear = dbmfirstkey($dbm: 1);
$colour: yellow = dbmfetch($dbm: 1, $key: pear);
$key: apricot = dbmnextkey($dbm: 1);
$colour: pink = dbmfetch($dbm: 1, $key: apricot);
$key: apple = dbmnextkey($dbm: 1);
$colour: red = dbmfetch($dbm: 1, $key: apple);
True (OK) = dbmclose($dbm: 1);
The second run output:
$dbm: 1 = dbmopen("firstdbm", "w");
ndbm support enabled = dblist();
$colour: red = dbmfetch($dbm: 1, $fruit: apple);
$key: 0 = dbmreplace($dbm: 1, $fruit: apple, "green");
$colour: green = dbmfetch($dbm: 1, $fruit: apple);
False (OK) = dbmdelete($dbm: 1, $fruit: apple);
$color: = dbmfetch($dbm: 1, $fruit: apple);
$key: pear = dbmfirstkey($dbm: 1);
$colour: yellow = dbmfetch($dbm: 1, $key: pear);
$key: apricot = dbmnextkey($dbm: 1);
$colour: pink = dbmfetch($dbm: 1, $key: apricot);
True (OK) = dbmclose($dbm: 1);


Be advised that almost every function in this section either has no documentation or incorrectly documented regarding return codes.  If you want to use the DB methods safely you will have to reverse engineer the return codes and hope that they do not change values returned by the functions in the future to match the incorrect documentation.
In my experience, the return code of 0 or FALSE indicates no error.  This matches the behavior of GDBM which I am using as my underlying DB manager.  This may not be true for people using another manager, or the builtin flatfile code.

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