My site has a facility to download a potentially large body of data from my database as a CSV file. This is currently implemented using a view.csv.php file that serves this data by first setting the MIME encoding and content disposition as follows, then fetching the data using JDatabaseQuery::loadObjectList() and rendering to stdout:

    $document   = &JFactory::getDocument();

    $filename = 'myfile.csv';

    JResponse::setHeader('Content-disposition', 'inline; filename="myfile.csv"', true);

With large enough data sets though, I get a PHP 'Allowed memory size of 134217728 bytes exhausted' error. Currently, I observe this happening during the rendering of the data to output. However, I am also concerned that if even larger datasets were requested, the error might occur when fetch the data from the database - I have not tested this to date.

One option I am considering to solve the immediate problem (errors during rendering) is to write the CSV content to a temporary file and return that somehow, rather than buffering the results directly to stdout, though I am unsure off-hand of how to return the file contents as the HTTP response once written, or if this will in fact solve the issue anyway.

So, my question is two-fold:

  1. Is using a temporary file the right approach to the memory-exhaustion-during-rendering issue, and if so, how do I subsequently return the content of this file as the HTTP response?
  2. Is there any mechanism to process SQL result sets one row at a time via JDatabase + JDatabaseQuery, rather than just fetching all of the data in bulk? I thought such a means existed, but on reviewing the Joomla API, it's not jumping out at me just now.
  • 1
    Just a hint: You could create a frontend controller and call it via com_ajax to write chunk of data to your file. When finished, you can return the path to a download view (window.location) which returns the file with the download header. This should trigger the download without reloading the current page. Feb 19, 2018 at 20:58
  • See my answer about com_ajax calls here: joomla.stackexchange.com/questions/146/… Feb 19, 2018 at 21:04

1 Answer 1


ad 1. The best option would be using streams. Unfortunately, JDocument does not support streams, so a temporary file might be the best available option. In your case it might be possible to send the file directly using streams, though.

ad 2. Use the JDatabaseDriver::getIterator() method to get a new iterator on the current query. It replaces the deprecated JDatabaseDriver::loadNextObject() method.

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