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How to handle forms in PHP

Nouman Abbasi

One of the most powerful features of PHP is the way it handles HTML forms. In PHP, we collect form data using the superglobal variablesVariables that can be accessed anywhere, regardless of scope. $_GET, $_POST, and $_REQUEST.

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Capturing form data

Superglobal Description
$_GET Associative array containing data of a form submitted with method="get" (URL parameters).
$_POST Associative array containing data of a form submitted with method="post".
$_REQUEST Associative array that, by default, contains the contents of $_GET, $_POST, and $_COOKIE.

Read more about $_GET here and $_POST here.

Using $_POST

Let’s see how to handle a form using $_POST first.

In this example, we have a simple HTML form that is submitted using the method="post":

<html>
<body>
   <form method="post" action="process-form.php">
      <input type="text" name="message">
      <input type="submit" name="submit">
   </form>
</body>
</html>

When a user submits the above form, the form data is sent to the “process-form.php” file on the server.
Accessing form data in “process-form.php” using $_POST looks like:

<html>
<body>
    <p>Submitted message:</p>
    <?php echo $_POST["message"]?>
</body>
</html>

Using $_GET

Next, let’s see how to handle a form using $_GET.

In this example, we have a simple HTML form that is submitted using the method="get" via the URL parameters.

<html>
<body>
   <form method="post" action="process-form.php">
      <input type="text" name="message">
      <input type="submit" name="submit">
   </form>
</body>
</html>

When a user submits the above form, the form data is available as URL parameters process-form.php?message=Abc and, just like $_POST, it can be accessed using $_GET:

<html>
<body>
    <p>Submitted message:</p>
    <?php echo $_GET["message"]?>
</body>
</html>

Note: Information sent from a form with the GET method is visible to everyone. Therefore, never use the GET method to send sensitive form data – use the POST method instead.

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