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PHP Forms - Validate E-mail and URL


This chapter shows how to validate names, e-mails, and URLs.


PHP - Validate Name

The code below shows a simple way to check if the name field only contains letters and whitespace. If the value of the name field is not valid, then store an error message:

$name = test_input($_POST["name"]);
if (!preg_match("/^[a-zA-Z ]*$/",$name)) {
  $nameErr = "Only letters and white space allowed";
}

The preg_match() function searches a string for pattern, returning true if the pattern exists, and false otherwise.


PHP - Validate E-mail

The easiest and safest way to check whether an email address is well-formed is to use PHP's filter_var() function.

In the code below, if the e-mail address is not well-formed, then store an error message:

$email = test_input($_POST["email"]);
if (!filter_var($email, FILTER_VALIDATE_EMAIL)) {
  $emailErr = "Invalid email format";
}

PHP - Validate URL

The code below shows a way to check if a URL address syntax is valid (this regular expression also allows dashes in the URL). If the URL address syntax is not valid, then store an error message:

$website = test_input($_POST["website"]);
if (!preg_match("/\b(?:(?:https?|ftp):\/\/|www\.)[-a-z0-9+&@#\/%?=~_|!:,.;]*[-a-z0-9+&@#\/%=~_|]/i",$website)) {
  $websiteErr = "Invalid URL";
}


PHP - Validate Name, E-mail, and URL

Now, the script looks like this:

Example

<?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"]);
    // check if name only contains letters and whitespace
    if (!preg_match("/^[a-zA-Z ]*$/",$name)) {
      $nameErr = "Only letters and white space allowed";
    }
  }

  if (empty($_POST["email"])) {
    $emailErr = "Email is required";
  } else {
    $email = test_input($_POST["email"]);
    // check if e-mail address is well-formed
    if (!filter_var($email, FILTER_VALIDATE_EMAIL)) {
      $emailErr = "Invalid email format";
    }
  }

  if (empty($_POST["website"])) {
    $website = "";
  } else {
    $website = test_input($_POST["website"]);
    // check if URL address syntax is valid (this regular expression also allows dashes in the URL)
    if (!preg_match("/\b(?:(?:https?|ftp):\/\/|www\.)[-a-z0-9+&@#\/%?=~_|!:,.;]*[-a-z0-9+&@#\/%=~_|]/i",$website)) {
      $websiteErr = "Invalid URL";
    }
  }

  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"]);
  }
}
?>
Try it Yourself »

The next step is to show how to prevent the form from emptying all the input fields when the user submits the form.