have run my theme through the Theme checker plugin and it seems upset about use of file_get_contents to get a json url. I've found posts saying i should use wp_remote_get. I'm currently decoding the url with the following:

$url = 'url' . $var;
$json =   file_get_contents($url,0,null,null);
$output = json_decode($json,true); 

The message I get from the Theme Checker is:

WARNING: file_get_contents was found in the file.php possible file operations.

Is it just saying this because there is a function I could possibly use by wordpress or any other reasons? Also how would I use wp_remote_get. I tried a few variations, mostly replacing file_get_contents with wp_remote_get with no luck. Doesn't seem to decode the url at all.

  • 2
    This question/answer can help you
    – cybmeta
    Sep 27, 2013 at 9:45
  • hi, thanks for that, did help, so assumed it was saying wp-Remote did all the decoding for me already? So did $url = 'url' . $var; $output = wp_remote_get( $url ); but did not work
    – David
    Sep 27, 2013 at 10:01
  • You have to read again the link I posted. If you make $output = wp_remote_get( $url ); the $output will be an array where you can access to $output['headers'], $output['body']. I think what you want is $json = json_decode($output['body']);
    – cybmeta
    Sep 27, 2013 at 10:05
  • Don't use json_decode($output['body'] instead use wp_remote_retrieve_body( $output )
    – Horttcore
    Sep 27, 2013 at 10:10
  • Despite being closed as a duplicate this question is a lot better written and deals with the single issue of how to start using wp_remote_get in place of file_get_contents or file_get_contents_curl - and because the question is clearer, the answers are better and easier to understand. Aug 26, 2020 at 18:27

3 Answers 3


If you need to send a JSON response, then there's a set of functions for that. In case you need that for an AJAX callback:

Would finally be something like that:

$request  = wp_remote_get( 'http://example.com' );
$response = wp_remote_retrieve_body( $request );
if ( 
    'OK' !== wp_remote_retrieve_response_message( $response )
    OR 200 !== wp_remote_retrieve_response_code( $response )
    wp_send_json_error( $response );

wp_send_json_success( $response );

Both wp_send_json_success/_error() functions are wrappers for wp_send_json(), which includes wp_die() at the end. So there's nothing else to do.

Keep in mind that 99% of all remote APIs are sending 200/OK in case of errors. You'll still have to manually inspect the result and check for errors.


Use wp_remote_get() in conjunction with wp_remote_retrieve_body()


$request = wp_remote_get('http://example.com');
$response = wp_remote_retrieve_body( $request );
echo $response;

Check the documentation for possible arguements

  • Hi, thanks, I seem to be able to echo out the whole thing but when I just try to get some certain values within the json file, lets say $response['companyname'] i Just get a '{'
    – David
    Oct 3, 2013 at 11:03
  • If the body of a document is also a json file then use json_encode()
    – Horttcore
    Oct 8, 2013 at 13:07
  • wp_remote_retrieve_body is good because it checks to make sure there are no errors and it also returns an empty string if $request['body'] is not set. Aug 26, 2020 at 18:31

You can use wp_remote_get() in the following way:

$url = 'url' . $var;
$request =   wp_remote_get($url);
// Get the body of the response
$response = wp_remote_retrieve_body( $request );
// Decode the json
$output = json_decode( $response ); 

$output now has what you want and now you can go ahead and do your stuff.

There is a also a series of tutorials on wp_remote_get(). Go through it, it will definitely help.

Link -- Tutorial

Hope it helps.

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