21 Really Useful & Handy PHP Code Snippets

Posted in PHP Popular

php PHP is the most widely used web based programming language that powers millions of websites including some of the most popular ones like Facebook. Here are 21 really useful and handy PHP code snippets that every type of PHP developer will find useful.

1. Human Readable Random String

This code will create a human readable string that will look more close to dictionary words, useful for captchas.

*@length - length of random string (must be a multiple of 2)
function readable_random_string($length = 6){
    srand ((double)microtime()*1000000);
    $max = $length/2;
    for($i=1; $i<=$max; $i++)
    return $password;

2. Generate a Random String

If you don’t need human readable string, then use this function instead, which will create a random string you can use for user id’s etc.

*@l - length of random string
function generate_rand($l){
  $c= "ABCDEFGHIJKLMNOPQRSTUVWXYZabcdefghijklmnopqrstuvwxyz0123456789";
  for($i=0; $i<$l; $i++) {
	  $rand.= $c[rand()%strlen($c)];
  return $rand;

3. Encode Email Address

With this snippet, you can encode any email address into HTML entities so that spam bots do not find it.

function encode_email($email='info@domain.com', $linkText='Contact Us', $attrs ='class="emailencoder"' )
	// remplazar aroba y puntos
	$email = str_replace('@', '&#64;', $email);
	$email = str_replace('.', '&#46;', $email);
	$email = str_split($email, 5);

	$linkText = str_replace('@', '&#64;', $linkText);
	$linkText = str_replace('.', '&#46;', $linkText);
	$linkText = str_split($linkText, 5);
	$part1 = '<a href="ma';
	$part2 = 'ilto&#58;';
	$part3 = '" '. $attrs .' >';
	$part4 = '</a>';

	$encoded = '<script type="text/javascript">';
	$encoded .= "document.write('$part1');";
	$encoded .= "document.write('$part2');";
	foreach($email as $e)
			$encoded .= "document.write('$e');";
	$encoded .= "document.write('$part3');";
	foreach($linkText as $l)
			$encoded .= "document.write('$l');";
	$encoded .= "document.write('$part4');";
	$encoded .= '</script>';

	return $encoded;

4. Validate email Address

E-mail validation is perhaps the most used validation in web forms, this code will validate email address and also optionally check the MX records of the domain provided in email address to make email validation more robust.

function is_valid_email($email, $test_mx = false)
	if(eregi("^([_a-z0-9-]+)(\.[_a-z0-9-]+)*@([a-z0-9-]+)(\.[a-z0-9-]+)*(\.[a-z]{2,4})$", $email))
			list($username, $domain) = split("@", $email);
			return getmxrr($domain, $mxrecords);
			return true;
		return false;

5. List Directory Contents

function list_files($dir)
  		if($handle = opendir($dir))
  			while(($file = readdir($handle)) !== false)
  				if($file != "." && $file != ".." && $file != "Thumbs.db")
  					echo '<a target="_blank" href="'.$dir.$file.'">'.$file.'</a><br>'."\n";

6. Destroy Directory

Delete a directory including its contents.

*@dir - Directory to destroy
*@virtual[optional]- whether a virtual directory
function destroyDir($dir, $virtual = false)
	$dir = $virtual ? realpath($dir) : $dir;
	$dir = substr($dir, -1) == $ds ? substr($dir, 0, -1) : $dir;
	if (is_dir($dir) && $handle = opendir($dir))
		while ($file = readdir($handle))
			if ($file == '.' || $file == '..')
			elseif (is_dir($dir.$ds.$file))
		return true;
		return false;

7. Parse JSON Data

With most of the popular web services like Twitter providing their data through APIs, it is always helpful to know how to parse API data which is sent in various formats including JSON, XML etc.

$json_string='{"id":1,"name":"foo","email":"foo@foobar.com","interest":["wordpress","php"]} ';
echo $obj->name; //prints foo
echo $obj->interest[1]; //prints php

8. Parse XML Data

//xml string
$xml_string="<?xml version='1.0'?>
   <user id='398'>
   <user id='867'>

//load the xml string using simplexml
$xml = simplexml_load_string($xml_string);

//loop through the each node of user
foreach ($xml->user as $user)
   //access attribute
   echo $user['id'], '  ';
   //subnodes are accessed by -> operator
   echo $user->name, '  ';
   echo $user->email, '<br />';

9. Create Post Slugs

Create user friendly post slugs from title string to use within URLs.

function create_slug($string){
	$slug=preg_replace('/[^A-Za-z0-9-]+/', '-', $string);
	return $slug;

10. Get Real IP Address of Client

This function will fetch the real IP address of the user even if he is behind a proxy server.

function getRealIpAddr()
	if (!empty($_SERVER['HTTP_CLIENT_IP']))
	elseif (!empty($_SERVER['HTTP_X_FORWARDED_FOR']))
	//to check ip is pass from proxy
	return $ip;

11. Force file Download

Provide files to the user by forcing them to download.

*@file - path to file
function force_download($file)
    if ((isset($file))&&(file_exists($file))) {
       header("Content-length: ".filesize($file));
       header('Content-Type: application/octet-stream');
       header('Content-Disposition: attachment; filename="' . $file . '"');
    } else {
       echo "No file selected";

12. Creating a Tag Cloud

function getCloud( $data = array(), $minFontSize = 12, $maxFontSize = 30 )
	$minimumCount = min($data);
	$maximumCount = max($data);
	$spread       = $maximumCount - $minimumCount;
	$cloudHTML    = '';
	$cloudTags    = array();

	$spread == 0 && $spread = 1;

	foreach( $data as $tag => $count )
		$size = $minFontSize + ( $count - $minimumCount ) 
			* ( $maxFontSize - $minFontSize ) / $spread;
		$cloudTags[] = '<a style="font-size: ' . floor( $size ) . 'px' 
		. '" class="tag_cloud" href="#" title="\'' . $tag  .
		'\' returned a count of ' . $count . '">' 
		. htmlspecialchars( stripslashes( $tag ) ) . '</a>';
	return join( "\n", $cloudTags ) . "\n";
****   Sample usage    ***/
$arr = Array('Actionscript' => 35, 'Adobe' => 22, 'Array' => 44, 'Background' => 43, 
	'Blur' => 18, 'Canvas' => 33, 'Class' => 15, 'Color Palette' => 11, 'Crop' => 42, 
	'Delimiter' => 13, 'Depth' => 34, 'Design' => 8, 'Encode' => 12, 'Encryption' => 30, 
	'Extract' => 28, 'Filters' => 42);
echo getCloud($arr, 12, 36);

13. Find Similarity Between Two Strings

PHP includes a function similar_text very rarely used but quite useful that compares two strings and returns the percentage of similarity between two.

similar_text($string1, $string2, $percent);
//$percent will have the percentage of similarity

14. Use Gravatars in Your Application

With ever increasing popularity of WordPress, Gravatars have become quite popular. It is very easy to integrate them into your application as they provide a very easy to use API.

*@email - Email address to show gravatar for
*@size - size of gravatar
*@default - URL of default gravatar to use
*@rating - rating of Gravatar(G, PG, R, X)
function show_gravatar($email, $size, $default, $rating)
	echo '<img src="http://www.gravatar.com/avatar.php?gravatar_id='.md5($email).
		'&default='.$default.'&size='.$size.'&rating='.$rating.'" width="'.$size.'px" 
		height="'.$size.'px" />';

15. Truncate Text at Word Break

This function will truncate strings only at word breaks which can be used to show a teaser for complete article without breaking words.

// Original PHP code by Chirp Internet: www.chirp.com.au 
// Please acknowledge use of this code by including this header. 
function myTruncate($string, $limit, $break=".", $pad="...") { 
	// return with no change if string is shorter than $limit  
	if(strlen($string) <= $limit) 
		return $string; 
	// is $break present between $limit and the end of the string?  
	if(false !== ($breakpoint = strpos($string, $break, $limit))) {
		if($breakpoint < strlen($string) - 1) { 
			$string = substr($string, 0, $breakpoint) . $pad; 
	return $string; 
/***** Example ****/
$short_string=myTruncate($long_string, 100, ' ');

16. Zip Files on the Fly

/* creates a compressed zip file */
function create_zip($files = array(),$destination = '',$overwrite = false) {
	//if the zip file already exists and overwrite is false, return false
	if(file_exists($destination) && !$overwrite) { return false; }
	$valid_files = array();
	//if files were passed in...
	if(is_array($files)) {
		//cycle through each file
		foreach($files as $file) {
			//make sure the file exists
			if(file_exists($file)) {
				$valid_files[] = $file;
	//if we have good files...
	if(count($valid_files)) {
		//create the archive
		$zip = new ZipArchive();
		if($zip->open($destination,$overwrite ? ZIPARCHIVE::OVERWRITE : ZIPARCHIVE::CREATE) !== true) {
			return false;
		//add the files
		foreach($valid_files as $file) {
		//echo 'The zip archive contains ',$zip->numFiles,' files with a status of ',$zip->status;
		//close the zip -- done!
		//check to make sure the file exists
		return file_exists($destination);
		return false;
/***** Example Usage ***/
$files=array('file1.jpg', 'file2.jpg', 'file3.gif');
create_zip($files, 'myzipfile.zip', true);

Source: David Walsh

17. Unzip Zip File

*@file - path to zip file
*@destination - destination directory for unzipped files
function unzip_file($file, $destination){
	// create object
	$zip = new ZipArchive() ;
	// open archive
	if ($zip->open($file) !== TRUE) {
		die (’Could not open archive’);
	// extract contents to destination directory
	// close archive
	echo 'Archive extracted to directory';

18. Prepend http to a URL

Some times you need to accept some url as input but users seldom add http:// to it, this code will add http:// to the URL if it’s not there.

if (!preg_match("/^(http|ftp):/", $_POST['url'])) {
   $_POST['url'] = 'http://'.$_POST['url'];

19. Convert URLs within String into hyperlinks

This function converts URLs and e-mail addresses within a string into clickable hyperlinks.

function makeClickableLinks($text) {
 $text = eregi_replace('(((f|ht){1}tp://)[-a-zA-Z0-9@:%_+.~#?&//=]+)',
 '<a href="\1">\1</a>', $text);
 $text = eregi_replace('([[:space:]()[{}])(www.[-a-zA-Z0-9@:%_+.~#?&//=]+)',
 '\1<a href="http://\2">\2</a>', $text);
 $text = eregi_replace('([_.0-9a-z-]+@([0-9a-z][0-9a-z-]+.)+[a-z]{2,3})',
 '<a href="mailto:\1">\1</a>', $text);

return $text;

20. Resize Images on the fly

Creating thumbnails of the images is required many a times, this code will be useful to know about the logic of thumbnail generation.

*@filename - path to the image
*@tmpname - temporary path to thumbnail
*@xmax - max width
*@ymax - max height
function resize_image($filename, $tmpname, $xmax, $ymax)
	$ext = explode(".", $filename);
	$ext = $ext[count($ext)-1];

	if($ext == "jpg" || $ext == "jpeg")
		$im = imagecreatefromjpeg($tmpname);
	elseif($ext == "png")
		$im = imagecreatefrompng($tmpname);
	elseif($ext == "gif")
		$im = imagecreatefromgif($tmpname);
	$x = imagesx($im);
	$y = imagesy($im);
	if($x <= $xmax && $y <= $ymax)
		return $im;

	if($x >= $y) {
		$newx = $xmax;
		$newy = $newx * $y / $x;
	else {
		$newy = $ymax;
		$newx = $x / $y * $newy;
	$im2 = imagecreatetruecolor($newx, $newy);
	imagecopyresized($im2, $im, 0, 0, 0, 0, floor($newx), floor($newy), $x, $y);
	return $im2; 

21. Detect AJAX Request

Most of the JavaScript frameworks like jQuery, mootools send and additional HTTP_X_REQUESTED_WITH header when they make an AJAX request, so that you can detect AJAX request on server side.(source)

if(!empty($_SERVER['HTTP_X_REQUESTED_WITH']) && strtolower($_SERVER['HTTP_X_REQUESTED_WITH']) == 'xmlhttprequest'){
	//If AJAX Request Then
//something else

If you would like to recommend a snippet to include in this list to make this list a more useful resource, tell us about it in comments below.



Subscribe to Full RSS Feed

RSS FeedIf you found this article useful, then consider subscribing to our RSS Feed or e-mail updates to stay updated with latest Web Design/ Development articles. You can also follow @webdevplus on twitter for latest updates.

37 Responses (Add Your Comment)

  1. Hey dats a nice list……. u might be gud at coding…..

  2. Tobi says:

    Wow, great list. Some of this snippets are already in my archive but there are some usefull!

  3. mupet says:

    Great list , most of theme is esential php snippets.

  4. Andrey says:

    Thank you very much for this, might come in handy!

  5. Nice list. I do have to nitpick #4 though – regex is always more fragile than filtering. Remember that there’s a lot of characters available in e-mail addresses.
    filter_var(‘an.example.addy@some-domain.co.uk’, FILTER_VALIDATE_EMAIL);

  6. As noted on php.net/filter_var, you can use the version from the C file, should you choose to use regex… but it’s a mouthful.


  7. In a single word, It’s marvelous…

  8. Vlg says:

    It’s a really nice list, but there is an error in “10. Get Real IP Address of Client” and “21. Detect AJAX Request” emptyempty => empty.

  9. Elrengo says:

    These are amazing (a) because they include a dozen solutions I’ve been looking for, and (b) because they are surprisingly short.

  10. john says:

    Are these your code or is there a demo somewhere of them? sorry if I missed it.

  11. tof says:

    More modern way to list files :

    class MyFileIterator extends FilterIterator {
    public function __construct($dir) {
    parent::__construct(new DirectoryIterator($dir));
    public function accept() {
    $f = parent::current();
    return !($f->isDot() or $f->getFileName() == “Thumbs.db”);
    // then :
    foreach (new MyFileIterator($dir) as $f) echo (string)$f . “\n”;

    Or, as a function (beuah) :

    function listFiles($dir) {
    foreach (new DirectoryIterator($dir) as $f) {
    if($f->isDot()) continue;
    $f->getPathname(), $f->getFilename());

  12. Rich says:

    This is an awesome list. thanks.

  13. Kee Hinckley says:

    Do *not* use the email validator. Do *not* use any email validator that uses a regular expression! It’s not possible to do proper validation with a regular expression. Proper validation requires a fairly complicated chunk of code, and the whole thing is pointless anyway, “foo@example.com” is a valid email address–but it’s not going to get delivered to anyone.

    Regular express email validation is the bane of of anyone with an “odd” email address,. The number of times I’ve had to use a different address because someone thought the one I used was too long or had a character it shouldn’t… just don’t.

  14. Keith says:

    Sorry, I’m going to be another nit-picker on the email address validation — but at least I’m going to offer a solution. Use Cal Henderson’s PHP email address parser (use the RFC 3696 parser):


    Cal’s code is a thing of beauty, IMHO. It does the job properly (check the test suite used by Cal and and Dominic Sayers — I can’t see anything missing but maybe someone smarter than I can), with the proviso that it fails addresses like ‘ joe@example’ which although they are allowed in the RFCs (necessary for local addresses on an intranet), they are not reachable on the public internet.

    Sure, you will always have the problem to which Kee alludes above, but that doesn’t make a more robust attempt at validation useless. Of course, some people will enter addresses that don’t exist; but not people who are genuinely trying to contact you, for example. And it doesn’t do any harm to check that they haven’t made a fundamental error when entering their address — it’s surprising how many do.

  15. Good stuff! If only I knew these a few years ago… I could have saved hours of research! :-P

    I guess it’s always good to point out to people, though, that while resizing and editing images on the fly is really useful, it’s also a good idea to cache those images in static files if you plan on reusing them. Then all you have to do is use readfile() to pass the static file to the end user, rather than re-generate it.

    I also like the ZIP compression snippets. I didn’t know how to do this – it might come in handy one day! Thanks!

  16. this is what I need! :) useful code snippets, thank you

  17. Stefan says:

    Great list. Decided to save some of them into my library.

  18. hasse hansen says:

    in tip #12, theres no need for array_values() , ‘coz min() and max() alone does the work

  19. Hi :)

    Very nice selection.

    I did want to point something out however, in terms of making clickable links.
    Many parsers like that fail to acknowledge that a full stop after a URI (in a sentence) is not part of the URL. I had huge troubles with this, and resorted to regular expression replacing.

    Here’s the code I used:

    $URI = ereg_replace(“[[:alpha:]]+://[^[:space:]]+[[:alnum:]/]”,”\“, $URI);

    This ensures that any full stops in a sub domain do not get included if they do not have a file extension appending it.

    See an example at http://www.inniosoft.co.cc/beta. Have a look at the Twitter Feed. You will notice that the full stops are not included in the link.

    Kind Regards

  20. Amazing thank you for this!

Comments are closed for this post.