Convert Mongo BSONDocument to an array in PHP

Ran into a scenario this weekend where I needed to take a sub-document from Mongo
but I needed it in an array in PHP. Reading the data from Mongo with PHP was
simple and won’t be discussed. What I’d like to talk about is taking the
BSONDocument that Mongo returns and converting it into an array.

I did a bit of searching and most solutions involved iterating through the
BSONDocument and creating an array from that. Iterating… wait, iterators are
what does that. I have an idea!!

As of PHP 5.1 you can use the iterator_to_array function. You can pass it an
iterator (like an ArrayIterator) and it will spit back an array. Optionally
you can pass a second argument of false and get an array instead of an
associative array (which is the default).

The function’s first argument is supposed to be a traversable interface. I
wasn’t entirely sure if that’s what I was working with but figured what the
hell. Turns out the BSONDocument was a traversable interface so in return I
received an associative array based on the BSONDocument I passed in.

Not much to the code either:

$record  = $mongo->collection->findOne([ 'what' => 'iwaslookingfor' 
$sub_doc = iterator_to_array($record['subDoc'

If you need to to grab multiple records, which will return a cursor instead of a
document, you will need to do a little extra work:

$records = $mongo->collection->find([ 'what' => 'iwaslookingfor' 
$records = iterator_to_array($records

    function (&$record)
      if (isset($record['subDoc'])) {
        $record['subDoc'] = iterator_to_array($record['subDoc'

Now every subDoc (if present) will be converted to an array!

Josh Sherman - The Man, The Myth, The Avatar

About Josh

Husband. Father. Pug dad. Musician. Founder of Holiday API, Head of Engineering and Emoji Specialist at Mailshake, and author of the best damn Lorem Ipsum Library for PHP.

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