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dir2json is a PHP CLI script that can be used to ouput the contents of a whole directory tree into a JSON-formatted file.

To properly understand it, let’s do a quick example. Suppose we have a directory tree structure like this:

This would be the file generated by dir2json:

As we already said, it can be very useful when working with Javascript frameworks and/or similar scenarios where you need to load/browse/show a directory structure without being allowed to access the system IO.

Conversion rules

The json conversion is handled by the native php json_encode  function (available in PHP 5 >= 5.2.0, PECL json >= 1.2.0, PHP 7). For further info on PHP’s json_encode function, read here:

The generated JSON object will adopt the following conventions:

  • If a folder contains only files (without subfolders), they will be listed as items of a single array.
  • If a folder contains one or more subfolders, each one will be listed as a key/value array.
  • If a folder contains files and subfolders, both will be listed as a key/value array: each file will have an auto-generated numeric key starting from 0 (numbers already used by a subfolder’s name will be skipped).


The code it’s meant to be used as a dedicated CLI script, but you can also execute it from a standard, web-hosted PHP page by populating the $argv[]  array directly from code. If you need further help to implement it into a PHP page, contact me and I’ll update the docs accordingly.

From CLI

JSON_OPTIONS  is a bitmask consisting of:


The behaviour of these constants is described on the JSON constants page in the official PHP docs:


This example uses JSON_PRETTY_PRINT, a constant that will tell json_encode  to output the JSON result in a readable way using spaces, linefeeds and indents.

If you need more info, please read this article.

Download links




IT Project Manager, Web Interface Architect and Lead Developer for many high-traffic web sites & services hosted in Italy and Europe. Since 2010 it's also a lead designer for many App and games for Android, iOS and Windows Phone mobile devices for a number of italian companies.