how to get the cookies from a php curl into a variable


So some guy at some other company thought it would be awesome if instead of using soap or xml-rpc or rest or any other reasonable communication protocol he just embedded all of his response as cookies in the header.

I need to pull these cookies out as hopefully an array from this curl response. If I have to waste a bunch of my life writing a parser for this I will be very unhappy.

Does anyone know how this can simply be done, preferably without writing anything to a file?

I will be very grateful if anyone can help me out with this.

5/21/2009 11:31:11 PM

Accepted Answer

$ch = curl_init('');
curl_setopt($ch, CURLOPT_RETURNTRANSFER, 1);
// get headers too with this line
curl_setopt($ch, CURLOPT_HEADER, 1);
$result = curl_exec($ch);
// get cookie
// multi-cookie variant contributed by @Combuster in comments
preg_match_all('/^Set-Cookie:\s*([^;]*)/mi', $result, $matches);
$cookies = array();
foreach($matches[1] as $item) {
    parse_str($item, $cookie);
    $cookies = array_merge($cookies, $cookie);
5/7/2015 1:50:49 PM

Although this question is quite old, and the accepted response is valid, I find it a bit unconfortable because the content of the HTTP response (HTML, XML, JSON, binary or whatever) becomes mixed with the headers.

I've found a different alternative. CURL provides an option (CURLOPT_HEADERFUNCTION) to set a callback that will be called for each response header line. The function will receive the curl object and a string with the header line.

You can use a code like this (adapted from TML response):

$cookies = Array();
$ch = curl_init('');
// Ask for the callback.
curl_setopt($ch, CURLOPT_HEADERFUNCTION, "curlResponseHeaderCallback");
$result = curl_exec($ch);

function curlResponseHeaderCallback($ch, $headerLine) {
    global $cookies;
    if (preg_match('/^Set-Cookie:\s*([^;]*)/mi', $headerLine, $cookie) == 1)
        $cookies[] = $cookie;
    return strlen($headerLine); // Needed by curl

This solution has the drawback of using a global variable, but I guess this is not an issue for short scripts. And you can always use static methods and attributes if curl is being wrapped into a class.

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