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What is the best way to output html and php variables using php?

Posted on 2008-10-30
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Last Modified: 2010-04-21
My question is based on opinion on what is the best and easiest way to output html that is mixed with php variables within a php script. As a beginning programmer I was always told to use  something like this:

<?PHP echo '<p>My name is '.$name.'! And I live in '.$place.'.</p>';?>

This way doesn't seem to be the best or easiest way to get an html output page and this way is also hard to debug. What other ways are available that are easier and considered the more accurate way to output html? I have seen some functions but don't know what ones are right for me. Any guidance would be well appreciated.
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Question by:NEComputer
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Expert Comment

by:Hube02
ID: 22847101
As you say, this is opinion, and opinions are like... well...

anyway, I like the following myself, assuming we are in php

// php code here
?>
  <p>My name is <?php echo $name; ?>! And I live in <?php echo $place; ?>.</p>
<?php
// more php code here


There are a few reasons I like this, most of which is due to the fact that I use DreamWeaver as my coding environment. This allows me to see what is what, and makes finding errors in both php and html easier due to color coding. Many other editors are the same.

Another is that I simply like to keep HTML as HTML and not clutter up my php code with a lot of echo statements to output HTML. The only time I will generally place HTML into strings is if I am building something that needs to be echoed later, or if I am using a function to build a string that is returned. As a quick example, when validating a form I might have a variable named $form_error_messages and I might place all the error messages into this string and then echo them out all with

echo $form_error_messages.

but again, this is only my opinion and what I consider to be good coding practices.

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Accepted Solution

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Roger Baklund earned 300 total points
ID: 22847317
There are many options. I would have written your example code like one of the below snippets.
# My preferred way to write this:
echo "<p>My name is $name! And I live in $place.</p>";
 
# When arrays and/or objects are involved:
echo "<p>My name is {$person->name}! And I live in {$address[city]}.</p>";
 
# It also works with apostrophes surrounding the array key: 
echo "<p>My name is {$person->name}! And I live in {$address['city']}.</p>";
# The apostrophes are required when associative arrays are used outside of
# double quotes, so it might be a good idea to allways use it. Easier to remember.
 
# Long lines with much html I often write like this:
echo "<p>".
       "My name is ".$person->name."! ".
       "And I live in ".$address['city'].".".
     "</p>";
 
# ...but it is clearer to write it like this:
echo "<p>".
       "My name is {$person->name}! ".
       "And I live in {$address[city]}.".
     "</p>";
 
# It is also valid to break long lines without using concatination:
echo "<p>My name is {$person->name}! 
     And I live in {$address[city]}.</p>";
# This leaves some extra whitespace between "!" and "And", 
# but in html this is collapsed to a single space on screen.

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Expert Comment

by:Roger Baklund
ID: 22848569
The reason for my coding style (above) for long lines with much html is clearer when there actually is much html... I also switch between using ' and " depending on the content and context of the strings. Html attributes must be within double quotes, javascript string literals must be within single quotes.  I have expanded your example to illustrate:
echo '<div class="presentation">'.
       '<p>'.
         'My name is <a href="mailto:'.$person->email.'" onmouseover="'.
            "Tooltip('Click to send me an email!')".
            '">'.htmlentities($person->name).'</a>! '.
         'And I live in <a href="http://maps.google.com/maps?q='.
           urlencode($address['city']).','.
           urlencode($address['country']).
           '" onmouseover="'.
             "Tooltip('Click to find {$address['city']} on google maps!')".
           '">'.htmlentities($address['city']).'</a>.'.
       '</p>'.
     '</div>';

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Expert Comment

by:Roger Baklund
ID: 22848658
In larger projects with many involved coders and web designers, it is best to NOT mix html and code. Then the code might look like something like below, the template contains "<p>My name is $name! And I live in $place.</p>".
echo ResolveTemplate(
  GetTemplate('PersonalPresentation'),
  array(
    'name' => htmlentities($person->name),
    'place' => htmlentities($address['city'])
    )
  );

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Author Comment

by:NEComputer
ID: 22853521
cxr could you close the quotes and solve the problem when you mention html attributes must use double quotes? Wouldn't it look something like this:
echo "<p>My name is {$person->name}! And I live in {$address['city']}. "\This is my quote."\</p>";

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Expert Comment

by:Roger Baklund
ID: 22853596
Yes, you can escape the double quotes within the double quotes... but I think it is harder to read and easy to get wrong...  you must have the backslash first, like this \", not "\

Like this:
echo "<p>My name is {$person->name}! And I live in {$address['city']}. \"This is my quote.\"</p>";

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Author Closing Comment

by:NEComputer
ID: 31511923
Thanks you for your opinion. Your assistance is greatly appreciated.
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