In PHP, False is Sometimes True

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Sometimes it’s the little things that get you. This is more of just a reminder than anything else. One of the fun quirks (and I hesitate to call it a quirk because it’s technically working as defined) in PHP.

$flag = "false";
assert((bool) $flag === true);

The result here is true - why does this matter? Because of some sloppy programming, I had some code that was trying to use the value of some flag that was passed in from a JSON post request. Because I knew it was a string, I was casting it to a boolean. Of course this worked when the value was "true" but it wasn’t until a weird bug later that I noticed that it was casting "false" as true as well. It does this because it validate that the string is non-empty, not the content of the actual string. Doh!

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