Fast, lightweight, extensible CSS selector engine for PHP
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zest.php is a fast, lightweight, extensible CSS selector engine for PHP.

Zest was designed to be very concise while still supporting CSS3/CSS4 selectors and remaining fast.

This is a port to PHP of the zest.js selector library. Since that project hasn't been updated in a while, bugfixes have been taken from the copy of zest included in the domino DOM library.

Report issues on Phabricator.


$els = Zest::find('section! > div[title="hello" i] > :local-link /href/ h1', $doc);
Zest.php (https://github.com/wikimedia/zest.php) Copyright (c) 2019, C.
Definition Zest.php:21


This package is available on Packagist:

$ composer require wikimedia/zest-css


Functions below which take an opts array can be passed additional options which affect match results. This are available from within custom selectors (see below). At the moment, the standard selectors support the following options:

  • standardsMode (bool): if present and true, various PHP workarounds will be disabled in favor of calling methods defined in web standards.
  • getElementsById (true|callable(DOMNode,string):array<DOMElement>): if set to true then an optimization will be disabled to ensure that Zest can return multiple elements for ID selectors if IDs are not unique in the document. If set to a callable that takes a context node and an ID string and returns an array of Elements, a third-party DOM implementation can support an efficient index allowing multiple elements to share the same ID.

All methods will throw the exception returned by ZestInst::newBadSelectorException() (by default, a new InvalidArgumentException) if the selector fails to parse.

Zest::find( string $selector, $context, array $opts = [] ): array

This is equivalent to the standard DOM method ParentNode#querySelectorAll().

Zest::matches( $element, string $selector, array $opts = [] ): bool

This is equivalent to the standard DOM method Element#matches().

Since the PHP implementations of DOMDocument::getElementById and DOMDocument#getElementsByTagName have some performance and spec-compliance issues, Zest also exports useful performant and correct versions of these:

Zest::getElementsById( $contextNode, string $id, array $opts = [] ): array

This is equivalent to the standard DOM method Document#getElementById() (although you can use any context node, not just the top-level document). In addition, with the proper support from the DOM implementation, this can return more than one matching element.

Zest::getElementsByTagName( $contextNode, string $tagName, array $opts = [] ): array

This is equivalent to the standard DOM method Element#getElementsByTagName(), although you can use a DocumentFragment as the $contextNode.


It is possible to add your own selectors, operators, or combinators. These are added to an instance of ZestInst, so they don't affect other instances of Zest or the static Zest::find/Zest::matches methods. The ZestInst class has non-static versions of all the static methods available on Zest.

Adding a simple selector

Adding simple selectors is fairly straight forward. Only the addition of pseudo classes and attribute operators is possible. (Adding your own "style" of selector would require changes to the core logic.)

Here is an example of a custom :name selector which will match for an element's name attribute: e.g. h1:name(foo). Effectively an alias for h1[name=foo].

$z = new ZestInst;
$z->addSelector1( ':name', function( string $param ):callable {
return function ( $el, array $opts ) use ( $param ):bool {
if ($el->getAttribute('name') === $param) return true;
return false;
} );
// Use it!
$z->find( 'h1:name(foo)', $document );
Zest.php (https://github.com/wikimedia/zest.php) Copyright (c) 2019, C.
Definition ZestInst.php:23
addSelector1(string $key, callable $func)
Add a custom selector that takes 1 parameter, which is passed as a string.
Definition ZestInst.php:560

If you wish to add selectors which depend on global properties (such as :target) you can add the global information to $opts and it will be made available when your selector function is called.

NOTE: if your pseudo-class does not take a parameter, use addSelector0.

Adding an attribute operator

$z = new ZestInst;
// `$attr` is the attribute
// `$val` is the value to match
$z->addOperator( '!=', function( string $attr, string $val ):bool {
return $attr !== $val;
} );
// Use it!
$z->find( 'h1[name != "foo"]', $document );

Adding a combinator

Adding a combinator is a bit trickier. It may seem confusing at first because the logic is upside-down. Zest interprets selectors from right to left.

Here is an example how a parent combinator could be implemented:

$z = new ZestInst;
$z->addCombinator( '<', function( callable $test ): callable {
return function( $el, array $opts ) use ( $test ): ?DOMNode {
// `$el` is the current element
$el = $el->firstChild;
while ($el) {
// return the relevant element
// if it passed the test
if ($el->nodeType === 1 && call_user_func($test, $el, $opts)) {
return $el;
$el = $el->nextSibling;
return null;
} );
// Use it!
$z->find( 'h1 < section', $document );

The $test function tests whatever simple selectors it needs to look for, but it isn't important what it does. The most important part is that you return the relevant element once it's found.


$ composer test

License and Credits

The original zest codebase is (c) Copyright 2011-2012, Christopher Jeffrey.

The port to PHP was initially done by C. Scott Ananian and is (c) Copyright 2019 Wikimedia Foundation.

Additional code and functionality is (c) Copyright 2020-2021 Wikimedia Foundation.

Both the original zest codebase and this port are distributed under the MIT license; see LICENSE for more info.