AJAX can be used for interactive communication with a database.

AJAX Database Example

The following example will demonstrate how a web page can fetch information from a database with AJAX:


Person info will be listed here...

Example Explained - The MySQL Database

The database table we use in the example above looks like this:

id FirstName LastName Age Hometown Job
1 Peter Griffin 41 Quahog Brewery
2 Lois Griffin 40 Newport Piano Teacher
3 Joseph Swanson 39 Quahog Police Officer
4 Glenn Quagmire 41 Quahog Pilot

Example Explained

In the example above, when a user selects a person in the dropdown list above, a function called "showUser()" is executed.

The function is triggered by the onchange event.

Here is the HTML code:


function showUser(str) {
    if (str == "") {
        document.getElementById("txtHint").innerHTML = "";
    } else {
        if (window.XMLHttpRequest) {
            // code for IE7+, Firefox, Chrome, Opera, Safari
            xmlhttp = new XMLHttpRequest();
        } else {
            // code for IE6, IE5
            xmlhttp = new ActiveXObject("Microsoft.XMLHTTP");
        xmlhttp.onreadystatechange = function() {
            if (xmlhttp.readyState == 4 && xmlhttp.status == 200) {
                document.getElementById("txtHint").innerHTML = xmlhttp.responseText;

<select name="users" onchange="showUser(this.value)">
  <option value="">Select a person:</option>
  <option value="1">Peter Griffin</option>
  <option value="2">Lois Griffin</option>
  <option value="3">Joseph Swanson</option>
  <option value="4">Glenn Quagmire</option>
<div id="txtHint"><b>Person info will be listed here...</b></div>

Run example »

Code explanation:

First, check if no person is selected (str == ""). If no person is selected, clear the content of the txtHint placeholder and exit the function.

If a person is selected, do the following:

  • Create an XMLHttpRequest object
  • Create the function to be executed when the server response is ready
  • Send the request off to a file on the server
  • Notice that a parameter (q) is added to the URL (with the content of the dropdown list)

The PHP File

The page on the server called by the JavaScript above is a PHP file called "getuser.php".

The source code in "getuser.php" runs a query against a MySQL database, and returns the result in an HTML table:

<!DOCTYPE html>
table {
    width: 100%;
    border-collapse: collapse;

table, td, th {
    border: 1px solid black;
    padding: 5px;

th {text-align: left;}

$q = intval($_GET['q']);

$con = mysqli_connect('localhost','peter','abc123','my_db');
if (!$con) {
    die('Could not connect: ' . mysqli_error($con));

$sql="SELECT * FROM user WHERE id = '".$q."'";
$result = mysqli_query($con,$sql);

echo "<table>
while($row = mysqli_fetch_array($result)) {
    echo "<tr>";
    echo "<td>" . $row['FirstName'] . "</td>";
    echo "<td>" . $row['LastName'] . "</td>";
    echo "<td>" . $row['Age'] . "</td>";
    echo "<td>" . $row['Hometown'] . "</td>";
    echo "<td>" . $row['Job'] . "</td>";
    echo "</tr>";
echo "</table>";

Explanation: When the query is sent from the JavaScript to the PHP file, the following happens:

  1. PHP opens a connection to a MySQL server
  2. The correct person is found
  3. An HTML table is created, filled with data, and sent back to the "txtHint" placeholder