dir2json - a PHP CLI script to output the contents of a folder tree into a JSON object

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: http://php.net/manual/en/function.json-encode.php

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



About Ryan

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. Microsoft MVP for Development Technologies since 2018.

View all posts by Ryan

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