The switch statement is similar to a series of IF statements on the same expression. In many occasions, you may want to compare the same variable (or expression) with many different values, and execute a different piece of code depending on which value it equals to. This is exactly what the switch statement is for.
Note: Note that unlike some other languages, the continue statement applies to switch and acts similar to break. If you have a switch inside a loop and wish to continue to the next iteration of the outer loop, use continue 2.
The following two examples are two different ways to write the same thing, one using a series of if and elseif statements, and the other using the switch statement:
It is important to understand how the switch statement is executed in order to avoid mistakes. The switch statement executes line by line (actually, statement by statement). In the beginning, no code is executed. Only when a case statement is found with a value that matches the value of the switch expression does PHP begin to execute the statements. PHP continues to execute the statements until the end of the switch block, or the first time it sees a break statement. If you don't write a break statement at the end of a case's statement list, PHP will go on executing the statements of the following case. For example:
Here, if $i is equal to 0, PHP would execute all of the echo statements! If $i is equal to 1, PHP would execute the last two echo statements. You would get the expected behavior ('i equals 2' would be displayed) only if $i is equal to 2. Thus, it is important not to forget break statements (even though you may want to avoid supplying them on purpose under certain circumstances).
In a switch statement, the condition is evaluated only once and the result is compared to each case statement. In an elseif statement, the condition is evaluated again. If your condition is more complicated than a simple compare and/or is in a tight loop, a switch may be faster.
The statement list for a case can also be empty, which simply passes control into the statement list for the next case.
A special case is the default case. This case matches anything that wasn't matched by the other cases, and should be the last case statement. For example:
The case expression may be any expression that evaluates to a simple type, that is, integer or floating-point numbers and strings. Arrays or objects cannot be used here unless they are dereferenced to a simple type.
The alternative syntax for control structures is supported with switches. For more information, see Alternative syntax for control structures .