I need to do an import of an array of checkboxes, but there is a value that I don't how it is determined.

The array is based on a user meta option that I created that shows a list of category checkbox options. It grabs all of the categories and creates a checkbox option that can be saved to a user's profile.

This is part of the coding I used to create the user meta option:

$args = array( 'hide_empty' => 0, 'taxonomy'=> 'category');
$categories =  get_categories($args);

if ($categories){
                        foreach ( $categories as $category ){ 
                            if(in_array($category->term_id,(array)$data)) {
                                $selected = 'checked="checked""';
                            } else {
                                $selected = '';
                            echo '<input name="user_cats[]" value="'.$category->term_id.'" '.$selected.' type="checkbox"/> '.$category->name.'<br/>';

This is what the options look like in the user profile page:

enter image description here

After doing a test save of the some of the checkbox selections, I examined the database value of the "user_cats" field, it gives me something like this:


Now, I know what all but one of the variables stand for.

a = Total amount (quantity) of selections

i = Sequential number of the selection (*Starting with 0)

"X" = The number value within the parenthesis is the category ID

My question is, what is the s: value based on? I tried comparing to


1 Answer 1


Use the php function unserialize() on that string and you will get a proper array.

$cats = get_cats_from_database();
$cats = unserialize($cats);
        //now $cats is an array like Array(0 => 20, 1 => 343 );

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