A virtual teacher who reveals to you the great secrets of Base64

Base64URL in PHP

PHP doesn’t support the Base64URL standard, but you can use built-in functions to normalize values. The only thing you have to change is to replace 62-63 index characters. More exactly, you should use “-” instead of “+” and “_” instead of “/”.

Implementations of Base64URL decode and encode in PHP:

 * Encode data to Base64URL
 * @param string $data
 * @return boolean|string
function base64url_encode($data)
  // First of all you should encode $data to Base64 string
  $b64 = base64_encode($data);

  // Make sure you get a valid result, otherwise, return FALSE, as the base64_encode() function do
  if ($b64 === false) {
    return false;

  // Convert Base64 to Base64URL by replacing “+” with “-” and “/” with “_”
  $url = strtr($b64, '+/', '-_');

  // Remove padding character from the end of line and return the Base64URL result
  return rtrim($url, '=');

 * Decode data from Base64URL
 * @param string $data
 * @param boolean $strict
 * @return boolean|string
function base64url_decode($data, $strict = false)
  // Convert Base64URL to Base64 by replacing “-” with “+” and “_” with “/”
  $b64 = strtr($data, '-_', '+/');

  // Decode Base64 string and return the original data
  return base64_decode($b64, $strict);

Using the above functions, let’s do some tests:

// Encode text to Base64 standard
echo base64_encode('<<???>>'); //-> "PDw/Pz8+Pg=="

// Encode same text to Base64URL (note that letters and digits remain intact)
echo base64url_encode('<<???>>'); //-> "PDw_Pz8-Pg"

// Try to decode obtained value using Base64 standard (the result appears damaged)
// In fact, since strict mode is disabled, it attempts to decode “PDwPz8Pg”
echo base64_decode('PDw_Pz8-Pg'); //-> "<<���"

// Well, now try to decode it by enabling strict mode, but the result again is wrong
echo base64_decode('PDw_Pz8-Pg', true); //-> FALSE

// Finally, get the original data using the proper function
echo base64url_decode('PDw_Pz8-Pg'); //-> "<<???>>"
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