PHP 5.4.33 Released

Using PHP

This section gathers many common errors that you may face while writing PHP scripts.

  1. I cannot remember the parameter order of PHP functions, are they random?
  2. I would like to write a generic PHP script that can handle data coming from any form. How do I know which POST method variables are available?
  3. I need to convert all single-quotes (') to a backslash followed by a single-quote (\'). How can I do this with a regular expression? I'd also like to convert " to \" and \ to \\.
  4. All my " turn into \" and my ' turn into \', how do I get rid of all these unwanted backslashes? How and why did they get there?
  5. How does the PHP directive register_globals affect me?
  6. When I do the following, the output is printed in the wrong order: <?php function myfunc($argument) { echo $argument + 10; } $variable = 10; echo "myfunc($variable) = " . myfunc($variable); ?> what's going on?
  7. Hey, what happened to my newlines? <pre> <?php echo "This should be the first line."; ?> <?php echo "This should show up after the new line above."; ?> </pre>
  8. I get the message 'Warning: Cannot send session cookie - headers already sent...' or 'Cannot add header information - headers already sent...'.
  9. I need to access information in the request header directly. How can I do this?
  10. When I try to use authentication with IIS I get 'No Input file specified'.
  11. Windows: I can't access files shared on another computer using IIS
  12. How am I supposed to mix XML and PHP? It complains about my <?xml tags!
  13. Where can I find a complete list of variables are available to me in PHP?
  14. How can I generate PDF files without using the non-free and commercial libraries like PDFLib? I'd like something that's free and doesn't require external PDF libraries.
  15. I'm trying to access one of the standard CGI variables (such as $DOCUMENT_ROOT or $HTTP_REFERER) in a user-defined function, and it can't seem to find it. What's wrong?
  16. A few PHP directives may also take on shorthand byte values, as opposed to only integer byte values. What are all the available shorthand byte options? And can I use these outside of php.ini?
  17. Windows: I keep getting connection timeouts when using localhost, whereas "127.0.0.1" works?
I cannot remember the parameter order of PHP functions, are they random?

PHP is a glue that brings together hundreds of external libraries, so sometimes this gets messy. However, a simple rule of thumb is as follows:

Array function parameters are ordered as "needle, haystack" whereas String functions are the opposite, so "haystack, needle".

I would like to write a generic PHP script that can handle data coming from any form. How do I know which POST method variables are available?

PHP offers many predefined variables, like the superglobal $_POST. You may loop through $_POST as it's an associate array of all POSTed values. For example, let's simply loop through it with foreach, check for empty() values, and print them out.

<?php
$empty 
$post = array();
foreach (
$_POST as $varname => $varvalue) {
    if (empty(
$varvalue)) {
        
$empty[$varname] = $varvalue;
    } else {
        
$post[$varname] = $varvalue;
    }
}

print 
"<pre>";
if (empty(
$empty)) {
    print 
"None of the POSTed values are empty, posted:\n";
    
var_dump($post);
} else {
    print 
"We have " count($empty) . " empty values\n";
    print 
"Posted:\n"var_dump($post);
    print 
"Empty:\n";  var_dump($empty);
    exit;
}
?>

Note: Superglobals: availability note

Superglobal arrays such as $_GET, $_POST, and $_SERVER, etc. are available as of PHP 4.1.0. For more information, read the manual section on superglobals

I need to convert all single-quotes (') to a backslash followed by a single-quote (\'). How can I do this with a regular expression? I'd also like to convert " to \" and \ to \\.

Assuming this is for a database, use the escaping mechanism that comes with the database. For example, use mysql_real_escape_string() with MySQL and pg_escape_string() with PostgreSQL. There is also the generic addslashes() and stripslashes() functions, that are more common with older PHP code.

Note: directive note: magic_quotes_gpc

The magic_quotes_gpc directive defaults to on. It essentially runs addslashes() on all GET, POST, and COOKIE data. stripslashes() may be used to remove them.

All my " turn into \" and my ' turn into \', how do I get rid of all these unwanted backslashes? How and why did they get there?

Most likely the backslashes magically exist because the PHP directive magic_quotes_gpc is on. This is an old feature of PHP, and should be disabled and not relied upon. Also, the PHP function stripslashes() may be used to strip the backslashes from the string.

Note: directive note: magic_quotes_gpc

The magic_quotes_gpc directive defaults to on. It essentially runs addslashes() on all GET, POST, and COOKIE data. stripslashes() may be used to remove them.

How does the PHP directive register_globals affect me?
Warning

This feature has been DEPRECATED as of PHP 5.3.0 and REMOVED as of PHP 5.4.0.

First, an explanation about what this ini setting does. Let's say the following URL is used: http://example.com/foo.php?animal=cat and in foo.php we might have the following PHP code:

<?php
// Using $_GET here is preferred
echo $_GET['animal'];

// For $animal to exist, register_globals must be on
// DO NOT DO THIS
echo $animal;

// This applies to all variables, so $_SERVER too
echo $_SERVER['PHP_SELF'];

// Again, for $PHP_SELF to exist, register_globals must be on
// DO NOT DO THIS
echo $PHP_SELF;
?>

The code above demonstrates how register_globals creates a lot of variables. For years this type of coding has been frowned upon, and for years it's been disabled by default. So although most web hosts disable register_globals, there are still outdated articles, tutorials, and books that require it to be on. Plan accordingly.

See also the following resources for additional information:

Note:

In the example above, we used an URL that contained a QUERY_STRING. Passing information like this is done through a GET HTTP Request, so this is why the superglobal $_GET was used.

When I do the following, the output is printed in the wrong order:
<?php
function myfunc($argument)
{
    echo 
$argument 10;
}
$variable 10;
echo 
"myfunc($variable) = " myfunc($variable);
?>
what's going on?

To be able to use the results of your function in an expression (such as concatenating it with other strings in the example above), you need to return the value, not echo it.

Hey, what happened to my newlines?
<pre>
<?php echo "This should be the first line."?>
<?php 
echo "This should show up after the new line above."?>
</pre>

In PHP, the ending for a block of code is either "?>" or "?>\n" (where \n means a newline). So in the example above, the echoed sentences will be on one line, because PHP omits the newlines after the block ending. This means that you need to insert an extra newline after each block of PHP code to make it print out one newline.

Why does PHP do this? Because when formatting normal HTML, this usually makes your life easier because you don't want that newline, but you'd have to create extremely long lines or otherwise make the raw page source unreadable to achieve that effect.

I get the message 'Warning: Cannot send session cookie - headers already sent...' or 'Cannot add header information - headers already sent...'.

The functions header(), setcookie(), and the session functions need to add headers to the output stream but headers can only be sent before all other content. There can be no output before using these functions, output such as HTML. The function headers_sent() will check if your script has already sent headers and see also the Output Control functions.

I need to access information in the request header directly. How can I do this?

The getallheaders() function will do this if you are running PHP as an Apache module. So, the following bit of code will show you all the request headers:

<?php
$headers 
getallheaders();
foreach (
$headers as $name => $content) {
    echo 
"headers[$name] = $content<br />\n";
}
?>

See also apache_lookup_uri(), apache_response_headers(), and fsockopen()

When I try to use authentication with IIS I get 'No Input file specified'.

The security model of IIS is at fault here. This is a problem common to all CGI programs running under IIS. A workaround is to create a plain HTML file (not parsed by PHP) as the entry page into an authenticated directory. Then use a META tag to redirect to the PHP page, or have a link to the PHP page. PHP will then recognize the authentication correctly. With the ISAPI module, this is not a problem. This should not affect other NT web servers. For more information, see: » http://support.microsoft.com/kb/q160422/ and the manual section on HTTP Authentication .

Windows: I can't access files shared on another computer using IIS

You have to change the Go to Internet Information Services. Locate your PHP file and go to its properties. Go to the File Security tab, Edit -< Anonymous access and authentication control.

You can fix the problem either by unticking Anonymous Access and leaving Integrated Window Authentication ticked, or, by ticking Anonymous Access and editing the user as he may not have the access right.

How am I supposed to mix XML and PHP? It complains about my <?xml tags!

In order to embed <?xml straight into your PHP code, you'll have to turn off short tags by having the PHP directive short_open_tags set to 0. You cannot set this directive with ini_set(). Regardless of short_open_tags being on or off, you can do something like: <?php echo '<?xml'; ?>. The default for this directive is On.

Where can I find a complete list of variables are available to me in PHP?

Read the manual page on predefined variables as it includes a partial list of predefined variables available to your script. A complete list of available variables (and much more information) can be seen by calling the phpinfo() function. Be sure to read the manual section on variables from outside of PHP as it describes common scenarios for external variables, like from a HTML form, a Cookie, and the URL.

Note: register_globals: important note

As of PHP 4.2.0, the default value for the PHP directive register_globals is off. The PHP community discourages developers from relying on this directive, and encourages the use of other means, such as the superglobals.

How can I generate PDF files without using the non-free and commercial libraries like PDFLib? I'd like something that's free and doesn't require external PDF libraries.

There are a few alternatives written in PHP such as » FPDF and » TCPDF.

There is also the Haru extension that uses the free libHaru external library.

I'm trying to access one of the standard CGI variables (such as $DOCUMENT_ROOT or $HTTP_REFERER) in a user-defined function, and it can't seem to find it. What's wrong?

It's important to realize that the PHP directive register_globals also affects server and environment variables. When register_globals = off (the default is off since PHP 4.2.0), $DOCUMENT_ROOT will not exist. Instead, use $_SERVER['DOCUMENT_ROOT'] . If register_globals = on then the variables $DOCUMENT_ROOT and $GLOBALS['DOCUMENT_ROOT'] will also exist.

If you're sure register_globals = on and wonder why $DOCUMENT_ROOT isn't available inside functions, it's because these are like any other variables and would require global $DOCUMENT_ROOT inside the function. See also the manual page on variable scope. It's preferred to code with register_globals = off.

Note: Superglobals: availability note

Superglobal arrays such as $_GET, $_POST, and $_SERVER, etc. are available as of PHP 4.1.0. For more information, read the manual section on superglobals

A few PHP directives may also take on shorthand byte values, as opposed to only integer byte values. What are all the available shorthand byte options? And can I use these outside of php.ini?

The available options are K (for Kilobytes), M (for Megabytes) and G (for Gigabytes; available since PHP 5.1.0), these are case insensitive. Anything else assumes bytes. 1M equals one Megabyte or 1048576 bytes. 1K equals one Kilobyte or 1024 bytes. You may not use these shorthand notations outside of php.ini, instead use an integer value of bytes. See the ini_get() documentation for an example on how to convert these values.

Note: kilobyte versus kibibyte

The PHP notation describes one kilobyte as equalling 1024 bytes, whereas the IEC standard considers this to be a kibibyte instead. Summary: k and K = 1024 bytes.

Windows: I keep getting connection timeouts when using localhost, whereas "127.0.0.1" works?

Prior to PHP 5.3.4, there was a bug in the network resolving code inside PHP that caused localhost in all stream related situations to fail if IPv6 was enabled. To work around this issue you can either use "127.0.0.1" or disable IPv6 resolving in the hosts file.

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User Contributed Notes 3 notes

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2
greenie2600 at yahoo dot com
6 years ago
Here's a simple function that will convert the shorthand values described in point 64.16 to a number of bytes.

I use this to display the maximum size of file uploads to the user, so they don't waste time uploading a huge file only to find that it's too big. (I've been unable to find any browsers that actually support the MAX_FILE_SIZE technique described in chapter 38, and it's certainly not part of any W3C spec, so this is the next best thing.)

Here's how you'd use my function for that purpose (though you might want to abstract this to a function of its own):

<?php
echo 'Maximum file size: ' . convertBytes( ini_get( 'upload_max_filesize' ) ) / 1048576 . 'MB';
?>

And here's the function:

<?php
/**
* Convert a shorthand byte value from a PHP configuration directive to an integer value
* @param    string   $value
* @return   int
*/
function convertBytes( $value ) {
    if (
is_numeric( $value ) ) {
        return
$value;
    } else {
       
$value_length = strlen( $value );
       
$qty = substr( $value, 0, $value_length - 1 );
       
$unit = strtolower( substr( $value, $value_length - 1 ) );
        switch (
$unit ) {
            case
'k':
               
$qty *= 1024;
                break;
            case
'm':
               
$qty *= 1048576;
                break;
            case
'g':
               
$qty *= 1073741824;
                break;
        }
        return
$qty;
    }
}
?>
up
2
kjn
7 years ago
64.16 Byte Values

The number that precedes K, M, or G should be an integer.

E.g. this php.ini directive:
   post_max_size = 0.25M
is interpreted as 0, and thus prevents all POSTs.

It is particularly unhelpful that phpinfo() reports the string value assigned to post_max_size (0.25M), and not the numerical value that PHP extracts from that string (0M).
up
0
info at zankmusic dot com
5 years ago
Just spent a couple days on this one...
As previously posted, if you set
upload_max_filesize = 0.25M, the value reads correctly in phpinfo(), BUT it is effectively ZERO when implemented.

Note that the following also give ZERO bytes:

upload_max_filesize =  10M  (note the two white spaces before 10M), but the phpinfo() reads '10M' and everything looks ok.

I removed all white spaces in my php.ini file and viola...working fine again.
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