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PHP Bencode Encoder/Decoder

Bencode is the encoding used by the peer-to-peer file sharing system BitTorrent for storing and transmitting loosely structured data.

This is a pure PHP library that allows you to encode and decode Bencode data.


composer require 'sandfoxme/bencode'


Scalars and arrays


Possibly breaking change in 1.4 and 2.4:

Before 1.4 and 2.4 null was encoded as empty string and false was encoded as 0. Since bencode spec doesn’t have bool and null values, it is not considered a bc break. Judging by info[private] behavior in BitTorrent spec, the old behavior could be considered as a bug.


use SandFox\Bencode\Bencode;

$encoded = Bencode::encode([    // array will become dictionary
    'arr'       => [1,2,3,4],       // sequential array will become a list
    'int'       => 123,             // integer is stored as is
    'float'     => 3.1415,          // float will become a string
    'true'      => true,            // true will be an integer 1
    'false'     => false,           // false and null values will be skipped
    'string'    => "test\0test",    // string can contain any binary data
]); // "d3:arrli1ei2ei3ei4ee5:float6:3.14153:inti123e6:string9:test\0test4:truei1ee"



use SandFox\Bencode\Bencode;

// traversable objects and stdClass become dictionaries
$encoded = Bencode::encode(new ArrayObject([1,2,3])); // "d1:0i1e1:1i2e1:2i3ee"
$std = new stdClass();
$std->a = '123';
$std->b = 456;
$encoded = Bencode::encode($std); // "d1:a3:1231:bi456ee"

// you can force traversable to become a list by wrapping it with ListType
// keys will be discarded in that case
use SandFox\Bencode\Types\ListType;
$encoded = Bencode::encode(new ListType(new ArrayObject([1,2,3]))); // "li1ei2ei3ee"

// other objects will be converted to string if possible or generate an error if not
class ToString
    public function __toString()
        return 'I am string';

$encoded = Bencode::encode(new ToString()); // "11:I am string"

// Since 1.5 and 2.5: GMP object becomes integer
// Since 1.6 and 2.6 Pear's Math_BigInteger and brick/math
//      and internal type BigIntType (simple numeric string wrapper) are also supported
use SandFox\Bencode\Types\BigIntType;
$encoded = Bencode::encode([
    'gmp' => gmp_pow(2, 96),
    'brick' => \Brick\Math\BigInteger::of(2)->power(96),
    'internal' => new BigIntType('7922816251426433759354395033'),
]); // "d5:bricki79228162514264337593543950336e3:gmpi792..."


You can also force object representation by implementing BencodeSerializable interface. This will work exactly like JsonSerializable interface.


use SandFox\Bencode\Bencode;
use SandFox\Bencode\Types\BencodeSerializable;

class MyFile implements BencodeSerializable
    public function bencodeSerialize()
        return [
            'class' => static::class,
            'name'  => 'myfile.torrent',
            'size'  => 5 * 1024 * 1024,

$file = new MyFile;

$encoded = Bencode::encode($file); // "d5:class6:MyFile4:name14:myfile.torrent4:sizei5242880ee"



Parameter order is not guaranteed for options, use named parameters


use SandFox\Bencode\Bencode;

// simple decoding, lists and dictionaries will be arrays
$data = Bencode::decode("d3:arrli1ei2ei3ei4ee4:booli1e5:float6:3.14153:inti123e6:string9:test\0teste");
// [
//   "arr" => [1,2,3,4],
//   "bool" => 1,
//   "float" => "3.1415",
//   "int" => 123,
//   "string" => "test\0test",
// ]

// You can control lists and dictionaries types with options
$data = Bencode::decode(
    dictType: ArrayObject::class, // pass class name, new $type($array) will be created
    listType: function ($array) { // or callback for greater flexibility
        return new ArrayObject($array, ArrayObject::ARRAY_AS_PROPS);
// default value for both types is 'array'. you can also use 'object' for stdClass

Large integers


These math libraries are not explicit dependencies of this library. Install them separately before enabling.

By default the library only works with a native integer type but if you need to use large integers, for example, if you try to parse a torrent file for a >= 4GB file on a 32 bit system, you can enable big integer support.

Versions 1.5 and 2.5 added support for GMP:


use SandFox\Bencode\Bencode;

// Enable useGMP option to decode huge integers to the GMP object
$data = Bencode::decode(
    useGMP: true,
]; // ['gmp' => gmp_init('79228162514264337593543950336')]

Versions 1.6 and 2.6 added support for brick/math and Math_BigInteger, and custom handlers:


use SandFox\Bencode\Bencode;

// GMP
$data = Bencode::decode(
    bigInt: Bencode\BigInt::GMP, // same as ['useGMP' => true]
]; // ['int' => gmp_init('79228162514264337593543950336')]

// brick/math
$data = Bencode::decode(
    bigInt: Bencode\BigInt::BRICK_MATH,
]; // ['int' => \Brick\Math\BigInteger::of('79228162514264337593543950336')]

// Math_BigInteger from PEAR
$data = Bencode::decode(
    bigInt: Bencode\BigInt::PEAR,
]; // ['int' => new \Math_BigInteger('79228162514264337593543950336')]

// Internal BigIntType class
// does not require any external dependencies but also does not allow any manipulation
$data = Bencode::decode(
    bigInt: Bencode\BigInt::INTERNAL
]; // ['int' => new \SandFox\Bencode\Types\BigIntType('79228162514264337593543950336')]
// BigIntType is a value object with several getters:
// simple string representation:
$str = $data->getValue();
// converters to the supported libraries:
$obj = $data->toGMP();
$obj = $data->toPear();
$obj = $data->toBrickMath();

// like listType and dictType you can use a callable or a class name
$data = Bencode::decode(
    bigInt: fn($v) => v,
]; // ['int' => '79228162514264337593543950336']
$data = Bencode::decode(
    bigInt: MyBigIntHandler::class,
]; // ['int' => new MyBigIntHandler('79228162514264337593543950336')]]

Working with files


use SandFox\Bencode\Bencode;

// load data from a bencoded file
$data = Bencode::load('testfile.torrent');
// save data to a bencoded file
Bencode::dump('testfile.torrent', $data);

Working with streams


use SandFox\Bencode\Bencode;

// load data from a bencoded seekable readable stream
$data = Bencode::decodeStream(fopen('...', 'r'));
// save data to a bencoded writable stream or to a new php://temp if no stream is specified
Bencode::encodeToStream($data, fopen('...', 'w'));

Upgrade from 1.x

Main breaking changes:

  • Required PHP version was bumped to 8.0. Upgrade your interpreter.
  • Legacy namespace SandFoxMe was removed. You should search and replace SandFoxMe\Bencode with SandFox\Bencode in your code if you haven’t done it already.


The library is available as open source under the terms of the MIT License.