When a form is submitted to a PHP script, the information from that form is automatically made available to the script. There are many ways to access this information, for example:
Depending on your particular setup and personal preferences, there are many ways to access data from your HTML forms. Some examples are:
Example 12-10. Accessing data from a simple POST HTML form
Using a GET form is similar except you'll use the appropriate
GET predefined variable instead. GET also applies to the
QUERY_STRING (the information after the '?' in a URL). So,
for example, http://www.example.com/test.php?id=3
contains GET data which is accessible with
See also $_REQUEST and
Note: Superglobal arrays, like
$_GET, became available in PHP 4.1.0
As shown, before PHP 4.2.0 the default value for register_globals was on. And, in PHP 3 it was always on. The PHP community is encouraging all to not rely on this directive as it's preferred to assume it's off and code accordingly.
Note: The magic_quotes_gpc configuration directive affects Get, Post and Cookie values. If turned on, value (It's "PHP!") will automagically become (It\'s \"PHP!\"). Escaping is needed for DB insertion. See also addslashes(), stripslashes() and magic_quotes_sybase.
PHP also understands arrays in the context of form variables (see the related faq). You may, for example, group related variables together, or use this feature to retrieve values from a multiple select input. For example, let's post a form to itself and upon submission display the data:
Example 12-11. More complex form variables
In PHP 3, the array form variable usage is limited to single-dimensional arrays. As of PHP 4, no such restriction applies.
When submitting a form, it is possible to use an image instead of the standard submit button with a tag like:
When the user clicks somewhere on the image, the accompanying form will be transmitted to the server with two additional variables, sub_x and sub_y. These contain the coordinates of the user click within the image. The experienced may note that the actual variable names sent by the browser contains a period rather than an underscore, but PHP converts the period to an underscore automatically.
PHP transparently supports HTTP cookies as defined by Netscape's Spec. Cookies are a
mechanism for storing data in the remote browser and thus
tracking or identifying return users. You can set cookies using
the setcookie() function. Cookies are part of
the HTTP header, so the SetCookie function must be called before
any output is sent to the browser. This is the same restriction
as for the header() function. Cookie data
is then available in the appropriate cookie data arrays, such
as well as in
$_REQUEST. See the
setcookie() manual page for more details and
If you wish to assign multiple values to a single cookie variable, you may assign it as an array. For example:
That will create two separate cookies although MyCookie will now be a single array in your script. If you want to set just one cookie with multiple values, consider using serialize() or explode() on the value first.
Note that a cookie will replace a previous cookie by the same name in your browser unless the path or domain is different. So, for a shopping cart application you may want to keep a counter and pass this along. i.e.
Example 12-12. A setcookie() example
Typically, PHP does not alter the names of variables when they are passed into a script. However, it should be noted that the dot (period, full stop) is not a valid character in a PHP variable name. For the reason, look at it:
$varname, followed by the string concatenation operator, followed by the barestring (i.e. unquoted string which doesn't match any known key or reserved words) 'ext'. Obviously, this doesn't have the intended result.
For this reason, it is important to note that PHP will automatically replace any dots in incoming variable names with underscores.
Because PHP determines the types of variables and converts them (generally) as needed, it is not always obvious what type a given variable is at any one time. PHP includes several functions which find out what type a variable is, such as: gettype(), is_array(), is_float(), is_int(), is_object(), and is_string(). See also the chapter on Types.