Yogesh Chauhan's Blog

The Difference Between the echo and print Commands in PHP

in PHP on January 18, 2020

We have seen echo command used in number of different ways to print everything from PHP files on the server to the browser. Outputs might have been different. For example, you might have just printed simple texts or maybe string concatenation or some variables, maybe output in quotes using multiple lines or using heredoc.

In PHP, there are two ways to print. print and echo. But most of the time we just use echo and not print. Both of them are similar types of commands but still there is a bit difference (otherwise we won’t need two commands. right?)

The command print is a function-like construct that takes a single parameter and has a return value. The return value is always 1 by the way. The command echo is a pure PHP language construct.

Both of the commands are constructs so none of them requires parenthesis. 

The echo command will be somewhat faster then print in text output and the reason is obvious: it doesn’t set a return value.

The echo command can’t be used as a part of more complex expression because it isn’t implemented like a function. The print command can be used as a part of more complex expression.

Let’s look at the example below:


$var ? print "TRUE" : print "FALSE";

The statement prints whether the value is true or false using print. Something that we can not perform using echo. However there is a way to perform same king of operation using echo. For example, just use shorthand to write IF condition and use echo.

In the print example above, the question mark checks whether the value of $var is true. The colon just divides the outputs to be printed in either condition. If $var is TRUE then the left part of the colon will be printed and if it’s FALSE then the right part.

Summary

echo and print are more or less the same. They are both used to output data to the screen.

The differences are small:

echo has no return value while print has a return value of 1 so it can be used in expressions.

echo can take multiple parameters (although such usage is rare) while print can take one argument.

echo is marginally faster than print.


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