Function and usage of list_files() in wordpress


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    The list_files() function in WordPress is a utility for retrieving a list of all files within a specified directory and its subdirectories. This function is particularly useful for developers who need to work with file structures within WordPress themes or plugins. Here's a detailed explanation of the function and its usage:


    list_files( string $folder = '', int $levels = 100, string[] $exclusions = array(), bool $include_hidden = false ): string[]|false


    This function returns an array containing the paths of all files located in the specified folder and its subdirectories, up to a certain depth. The function can be customized using various parameters.


    1. $folder (string, optional):

      • This is the full path to the directory you want to list the files from.
      • Default value: '' (an empty string, which usually refers to the root directory of the WordPress installation).
    2. $levels (int, optional):

      • This defines how deep the function should go into subdirectories.
      • Default value: 100, which is typically sufficient for most uses, as it's also the limit for PHP loops.
    3. $exclusions (string[], optional):

      • This parameter allows you to specify an array of directory or file names to exclude from the listing.
      • Default value: array(), meaning no exclusions by default.
    4. $include_hidden (bool, optional):

      • This determines whether to include files that are typically hidden (those starting with a dot, like .htaccess).
      • Default value: false, meaning hidden files are not included by default.


    • string[]|false:
      • On success, it returns an array of file paths.
      • Returns false if the operation fails or if the specified directory doesn't exist.

    Sample Usage:

    // Example: List files in the 'wp-content' directory, excluding 'cache' folder, including hidden files, with a depth of 2 levels.
    $folderPath = ABSPATH . 'wp-content';
    $exclusions = array('cache');
    $includeHidden = true;
    $depth = 2;
    $files = list_files($folderPath, $depth, $exclusions, $includeHidden);
    if (is_array($files)) {
        foreach ($files as $file) {
            echo $file . '<br>';
    } else {
        echo 'No files found or an error occurred.';

    In this example, the function will list all files in the 'wp-content' directory, except those in the 'cache' folder. It will include hidden files and search up to 2 directory levels deep. The resulting file paths are then printed out, or an error message is displayed if no files are found or if there's a failure.

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