How to Handle Form Data In PHP?

8 minutes read

Handling form data in PHP is essential for many web applications as it allows you to collect and process user input. Here is a brief overview of the process:

  1. HTML form creation: Start by creating an HTML form using the element. Specify the method attribute as POST or GET, indicating how the form data will be transmitted to the server.
  2. Submitting form data: When the user submits the form, the data is sent to the server. PHP can access this data using the superglobal arrays $_POST or $_GET, depending on the form's method.
  3. Form validation: Before processing the form data, it's crucial to validate it. Validate fields for required inputs, correct formats (such as email or phone number), and any other specific requirements using conditional statements and regular expressions.
  4. Sanitizing input: To prevent security vulnerabilities like SQL injection and cross-site scripting attacks, it's essential to sanitize the form data. You can achieve this by using functions like htmlspecialchars() or filter_input() to remove any potentially harmful characters.
  5. Processing the data: Once the data is validated and sanitized, you can perform various operations with it. This may involve database interactions, sending emails, file handling, or any other actions required by your application.
  6. Feedback to the user: After processing the form data, it's essential to provide feedback to the user regarding the success or failure of their submission. You can redirect them to a thank you page, display error messages, or any other relevant notifications.

By following these steps, you can effectively handle form data in PHP and ensure a secure and reliable user experience.

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What is AJAX form submission and how does it work in PHP?

AJAX (Asynchronous JavaScript and XML) is a technique used to send and retrieve data from a server without refreshing the entire web page. AJAX form submission is the process of submitting form data to the server using AJAX.

In PHP, AJAX form submission typically involves the following steps:

  1. Capture Form Data: Use JavaScript to capture the form inputs and store them in a JavaScript object or variable.
  2. Create XMLHttpRequest Object: Create an XMLHttpRequest object in JavaScript, which is used to send the asynchronous request to the server.
  3. Set Request Parameters: Open the request by specifying the HTTP method (e.g., POST) and the PHP script URL to which the form data will be submitted. Set any additional request headers or parameters if necessary.
  4. Send Request: Send the request with the form data using the XMLHttpRequest's send() method.
  5. Process Server Response: In the PHP script, receive the form data sent from the client-side using $_POST or $_GET (depending on the request method). Process the data as needed (e.g., insert into a database, perform validation). Generate the response data, which could be in JSON format.
  6. Return Response: Send the response data back to the client-side in the PHP script. This can be done by echoing or printing the response data, which will be received by the XMLHttpRequest object as the response in the client-side JavaScript.
  7. Handle Response: In the client-side JavaScript, handle the response received from the server. This may involve displaying the response message, updating the UI, or performing additional actions based on the response.

Overall, AJAX form submission allows for a seamless user experience by sending form data to the server in the background and updating parts of the web page dynamically without a full page reload.

What is htmlspecialchars() function in PHP?

The htmlspecialchars() function in PHP is used for converting special characters to their HTML entities. It is mainly used to prevent cross-site scripting (XSS) attacks by encoding special characters that might be interpreted as HTML tags or code when echoed in the webpage. By using htmlspecialchars(), these characters are converted into their respective HTML entities, ensuring that they are displayed as their literal characters rather than being parsed as code.

What is the difference between $_POST and $_GET in PHP?

In PHP, $_POST and $_GET are both superglobal variables used to retrieve data from HTML forms. However, they differ in how they send and retrieve data.


  • Sends the data as part of the HTTP request body.
  • Suitable for sending sensitive or large amounts of data.
  • Data is not visible in the URL.
  • Accessed using the POST method in HTML form.


  • Sends the data as part of the URL query parameters.
  • Suitable for retrieving information and performing simple data retrieval.
  • Data is visible in the URL.
  • Accessed using the GET method in HTML form.

In summary, $_POST is used to send data discreetly and securely, while $_GET is used to fetch data that is more visible and can be bookmarked or shared via URL.

What is a select element in HTML forms?

A select element in HTML forms is a form control that allows users to choose one or more options from a list. It represents a drop-down list and is created using the element.

The element contains elements as its children, which define the available options. The user can select one or more options by clicking on the drop-down list and choosing the desired option(s).

Here's an example of how a select element is used in HTML:

In this example, the user can choose one of the three options listed. The selected option is sent to the server when the form is submitted.

How to handle form data using AJAX in PHP?

To handle form data using AJAX in PHP, you can follow these steps:

  1. Create an HTML form with the necessary input fields and a submit button. Give each input field a unique ID for easy identification.
  2. Use JavaScript to handle the form submission and send the data to the server using AJAX. You can use the XMLHttpRequest object or the jQuery $.ajax() method. Here is an example using jQuery: $(document).ready(function() { $('#myForm').submit(function(e) { e.preventDefault(); // prevent the form from submitting in the traditional way // Gather the form data var formData = { 'name': $('#name').val(), 'email': $('#email').val() // add more fields here as needed }; // Send the AJAX request $.ajax({ type: 'POST', url: 'process.php', // replace with your PHP file handling the form data data: formData, dataType: 'json', // change to the expected response data type encode: true }) .done(function(response) { // Handle the response from the server console.log(response); }); }); });
  3. In your PHP file (e.g., process.php in the example above), you can retrieve the form data using the $_POST superglobal. You can then process the data and perform any required actions (e.g., saving to a database, sending an email, etc.). Finally, return a response to the client, which will be handled in the AJAX callback function. 'Form data received and processed successfully' ); header('Content-Type: application/json'); echo json_encode($response); ?>
  4. With the AJAX request and PHP processing in place, you can handle the form data asynchronously without reloading the page. The response from the server will be available in the AJAX callback function, where you can display a success message, update the UI, or perform any other necessary actions.

Note: Make sure to validate and sanitize the input data on the server-side to prevent security vulnerabilities.

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