I'm checking out how a particular plugin works and noticed that it stores its data for option_value in wp_options in this array format...


I like this method, since it only uses a single row to hold my custom data, uninstall cleanup is easy. Is there a standard way to do a get/set operation on a custom field that results in this syntax?

Update: Thanks to Denis and the others who've added responses.

Here's an excellent tutorial on this method in case anyone else has this question > http://striderweb.com/nerdaphernalia/2008/07/consolidate-options-with-arrays/


Just pass an array when updating your option. It will be serialized automatically.

  • Thanks Denis. Here's an excellent tutorial on this method in case anyone else has this question > striderweb.com/nerdaphernalia/2008/07/…
    – Scott B
    Jan 6 '11 at 16:36
  • Wow - Had no idea. I kept trying to serialize them myself. Jan 6 '11 at 19:20
  • Is this format specific to WordPress?
    – trusktr
    May 28 '12 at 20:13
  • Note: You can also pass an object (stdClass for example). When you use get_option you will get the exact object back :)
    – Brian
    Mar 19 '15 at 19:32
  • @Brian: Actually, it's not stdClass for example. It's only stdClass, else WP will crash on load if the class doesn't exist, the option is set to autoload, and no class autoloader can find the appropriate class. Mar 19 '15 at 20:09

The serialization is done automatically, but if you want to know how to do this manually the function to look at is called serialize()


As per other answers (un)serialization is performed automatically on more complex data formats (arrays, objects) when options are stored or retrieved. This also applies to transients and other functionality.

Technically this is performed by internal usage maybe_serialize() and maybe_unserialize() functions that try to determine if data needs to be processed or passed as is.

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