Interactive shell

As of PHP 5.1.0, the CLI SAPI provides an interactive shell using the -a option if PHP is compiled with the --with-readline option.

Using the interactive shell you are able to type PHP code and have it executed directly.

Example #1 Executing code using the interactive shell

$ php -a
Interactive shell

php > echo 5+8;
php > function addTwo($n)
php > {
php { return $n + 2;
php { }
php > var_dump(addtwo(2));
php >

The interactive shell also features tab completion for functions, constants, class names, variables, static method calls and class constants.

Example #2 Tab completion

Pressing the tab key twice when there are multiple possible completions will result in a list of these completions:

php > strp[TAB][TAB]
strpbrk   strpos    strptime  
php > strp

When there is only one possible completion, pressing tab once will complete the rest on the same line:

php > strpt[TAB]ime(

It is also possible doing completion on things that have been defined during the interactive shell session:

php > $fooThisIsAReallyLongVariableName = 42;
php > $foo[TAB]ThisIsAReallyLongVariableName

The interactive shell stores your history and can be accessed using the up and down keys. The history is saved in the ~/.php_history file.


Files included through auto_prepend_file and auto_append_file are parsed in this mode but with some restrictions - e.g. functions have to be defined before called.


Autoloading is not available if using PHP in CLI interactive mode.

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