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PHP Forms - Required Fields


This chapter shows how to make input fields required and create error messages if needed.


PHP - Required Fields

From the validation rules table on the previous page, we see that the "Name", "E-mail", and "Gender" fields are required. These fields cannot be empty and must be filled out in the HTML form.

Field Validation Rules
Name Required. + Must only contain letters and whitespace
E-mail Required. + Must contain a valid email address (with @ and .)
Website Optional. If present, it must contain a valid URL
Comment Optional. Multi-line input field (textarea)
Gender Required. Must select one

In the previous chapter, all input fields were optional.

In the following code we have added some new variables: $nameErr, $emailErr, $genderErr, and $websiteErr. These error variables will hold error messages for the required fields. We have also added an if else statement for each $_POST variable. This checks if the $_POST variable is empty (with the PHP empty() function). If it is empty, an error message is stored in the different error variables, and if it is not empty, it sends the user input data through the test_input() function:

<?php
// define variables and set to empty values
$nameErr = $emailErr = $genderErr = $websiteErr = "";
$name = $email = $gender = $comment = $website = "";

if ($_SERVER["REQUEST_METHOD"] == "POST") {
  if (empty($_POST["name"])) {
    $nameErr = "Name is required";
  } else {
    $name = test_input($_POST["name"]);
  }

  if (empty($_POST["email"])) {
    $emailErr = "Email is required";
  } else {
    $email = test_input($_POST["email"]);
  }

  if (empty($_POST["website"])) {
    $website = "";
  } else {
    $website = test_input($_POST["website"]);
  }

  if (empty($_POST["comment"])) {
    $comment = "";
  } else {
    $comment = test_input($_POST["comment"]);
  }

  if (empty($_POST["gender"])) {
    $genderErr = "Gender is required";
  } else {
    $gender = test_input($_POST["gender"]);
  }
}
?>


PHP - Display The Error Messages

Then in the HTML form, we add a little script after each required field, which generates the correct error message if needed (that is if the user tries to submit the form without filling out the required fields):

Example

<form method="post" action="<?php echo htmlspecialchars($_SERVER["PHP_SELF"]);?>">

Name: <input type="text" name="name">
<span class="error">* <?php echo $nameErr;?></span>
<br><br>
E-mail:
<input type="text" name="email">
<span class="error">* <?php echo $emailErr;?></span>
<br><br>
Website:
<input type="text" name="website">
<span class="error"><?php echo $websiteErr;?></span>
<br><br>
Comment: <textarea name="comment" rows="5" cols="40"></textarea>
<br><br>
Gender:
<input type="radio" name="gender" value="female">Female
<input type="radio" name="gender" value="male">Male
<input type="radio" name="gender" value="other">Other
<span class="error">* <?php echo $genderErr;?></span>
<br><br>
<input type="submit" name="submit" value="Submit">

</form>
Try it Yourself »

The next step is to validate the input data, that is "Does the Name field contain only letters and whitespace?", and "Does the E-mail field contain a valid e-mail address syntax?", and if filled out, "Does the Website field contain a valid URL?".