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Using PHP to send form data to an email address.

burnedfaceless
on
I'm simply wondering if someone could write out an explanation of what happens when PHP sends form data to an email address. I've seen how PHP uses the post method with input names to get form data. How is that data emailed? What do you have to tell the server to do?
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Commented:
I'm not expecting anyone to write a bunch of script out I'm just curious to what actually goes on.
Most Valuable Expert 2011
Top Expert 2016
Commented:
Here is my teaching example.  You can install it and run it to see how it works.
<?php // RAY_form_to_email.php
error_reporting(E_ALL);


// SEND MAIL FROM A FORM


// REQUIRED VALUES ARE PREPOPULATED - CHANGE THESE FOR YOUR WORK
$from  = "NoReply@Your.org";
$subj  = "Contact Form";

// THIS IS AN ARRAY OF RECIPIENTS - CHANGE THESE FOR YOUR WORK
$to[]  = "You@Your.org";
$to[]  = "Her@Your.org";
$to[]  = "Him@Your.org";



// IF THE DATA HAS BEEN POSTED
if (!empty($_POST['email']))
{
    // CLEAN UP THE POTENTIALLY BAD AND DANGEROUS DATA
    $email      = clean_string($_POST["email"]);
    $name       = clean_string($_POST["name"]);
    $telephone  = clean_string($_POST["telephone"]);

    // CONSTRUCT THE MESSAGE THROUGH STRING CONCATENATION
    $content    = NULL;
    $content   .= "You have a New Query From $name" . PHP_EOL . PHP_EOL;
    $content   .= "Tel No: $telephone" . PHP_EOL;
    $content   .= "Email: $email" . PHP_EOL;

    // SEND MAIL TO EACH RECIPIENT
    foreach ($to as $recipient)
    {
        if (!mail( $recipient, $subj, $content, "From: $from\r\n"))
        {
            echo "MAIL FAILED FOR $recipient";
        }
        else
        {
            echo "MAIL WORKED FOR $recipient";
        }
    }
}


// A FORM TO TAKE CLIENT INPUT FOR THIS SCRIPT
$form = <<<ENDFORM
<form method="post">
Please enter your contact information
<br/>Email: <input name="email" />
<br/>Phone: <input name="telephone" />
<br/>Name:  <input name="name" />
<br/><input type="submit" />
</form>
ENDFORM;

echo $form;



// A FUNCTION TO CLEAN UP THE DATA - AVOID BECOMING AN OPEN-RELAY FOR SPAM
function clean_string($str)
{
    // IF MAGIC QUOTES IS ON, WE NEED TO REMOVE SLASHES
    $str = stripslashes($str);

    // REMOVE EXCESS WHITESPACE
    $rgx
    = '/'               // REGEX DELIMITER
    . '\s'              // MATCH THE WHITESPACE CHARACTER(S)
    . '\s+'             // MORE THAN ONE CONTIGUOUS INSTANCE OF WHITESPACE
    . '/'               // REGEX DELIMITER
    ;
    $str = preg_replace($rgx, ' ', $str);

    // REMOVE UNWANTED CHARACTERS
    $rgx
    = '/'               // REGEX DELIMITER
    . '['               // START OF A CHARACTER CLASS
    . '^'               // NEGATION - MATCH NONE OF THE CHARACTERS IN THIS CLASS
    . 'A-Z0-9&+:?_.- '  // CHARACTERS WE WANT TO KEEP
    . ']'               // END OF THE CHARACTER CLASS
    . '/'               // REGEX DELIMITER
    . 'i'               // CASE-INSENSITIVE
    ;
    $str = preg_replace($rgx, NULL, $str);

    return $str;
}

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Most Valuable Expert 2011
Top Expert 2016
Commented:
If you're relatively new to PHP and looking for some good learning opportunities, this book will serve you well.  Very readable with good examples, and a code library that you can copy and use for your own foundation.
http://www.sitepoint.com/books/phpmysql4/
Dave BaldwinFixer of Problems
Most Valuable Expert 2014
Commented:
Below is my PHP email demo code.  Save it as 'Email.php' and put your own email address in $toText="youremail@yourdomain.com"; and try it.  It does have to be run on a web server that has a SMTP server running.  Most shared hosting does and this PHP runs on both Linux and Windows.
<?php
error_reporting(E_ALL);
ini_set('display_errors','On');

# some settings of POST vars
if (!isset($_POST['send']))  $send = ''; else $send = $_POST['send'];
if (!isset($_POST['toText'])) $toText = ''; else $toText = $_POST['toText'];
if (!isset($_POST['ccText'])) $ccText = ''; else $ccText = $_POST['ccText'];
if (!isset($_POST['subjectText'])) $subjectText = ''; else $subjectText = $_POST['subjectText'];
if (!isset($_POST['msgText'])) $msgText = ''; else $msgText = $_POST['msgText'];
if (!isset($_POST['ccText'])) $ccTexth = ''; else $ccText = $_POST['ccText'];
if (!isset($_POST['bccText'])) $bccText = ''; else $bccText = $_POST['bccText'];
if (!isset($_POST['nameText'])) $nameText = ''; else $nameText = $_POST['nameText'];
if (!isset($_POST['fromText'])) $fromText = ''; else $fromText = $_POST['fromText'];

if ($send == "") {
    $title="Test Email Page";
    $announce="---";
}
else {
	if($fromText === "") die("No name!");
  $toText="youremail@yourdomain.com";
	$title="Test Email Page";
  $announce="Your Message has been Sent!";
	$header = "From: ".$fromText."\r\n";
//	$header .= "Cc: ".$ccText."\n";
	$header .= "Reply-To : ".$fromText."\r\n";
	$header .= "Return-Path : ".$fromText."\r\n";
	$header .= "X-Mailer: PHP\r\n";
	$header .= "MIME-Version: 1.0\r\n";
	$header .= "Content-Type: text/plain; charset=iso-8859-1\r\n";
//	ini_set(sendmail_from,$fromText);  
	mail($toText, $subjectText, $msgText, $header, '-f'.$fromText);
//	ini_restore(sendmail_from);
}
?>
<!DOCTYPE HTML PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.01 Transitional//EN"
 "http://www.w3.org/TR/html4/loose.dtd">

<head>
<meta http-equiv="Content-Type" content="text/html; charset=iso-8859-1">
<title><?php echo($title)?></title>
<style type="text/css">
<!-- 
A:link { color: #999999; }
A:visited { color: #999999; }
A:hover {color: #0099ff;}
-->
</style>
<script type="text/javascript">
<!--
function check()
{
var at=document.getElementById("fromText").value.indexOf("@");
var eml=document.getElementById("fromText").value;
var nam=document.getElementById("nameText").value;
var alerttxt="";
var submitOK="true";

if (eml.length < 5 || at == -1)
    {
    alerttxt=alerttxt+"Please enter a valid e-mail address!\r\n";
    submitOK="false"
    //return false;
    }
if (nam.length < 3)
    {
    alerttxt=alerttxt+"Please enter your name.\r\n";
    submitOK="false"
    //return false;
    }
if (submitOK=="false")
    {
    alert(alerttxt);
    return false;
    }

}
// -->
</script>
</head>

<body bgcolor="#ddeedd">
<div align="center">
<table border="0" cellpadding="0" cellspacing="0" summary="" width="580">
<tr><td align="center">

<?php
if ($send != "") {
   	echo ("To: ".$toText."<br>\r\nSubject: ".$subjectText."<br>\r\n".$msgText."<br>\r\n".$header);
		}
?>

<p><b><font color="#000000" size="5">Test Email</font></b></p>
<font size="4" color="#000000">

<!--   <form method="POST" action="<?php echo($PHP_SELF)?>"> -->
<form method="POST" action="Email.php" onsubmit="return check();">
    <p><font size="3"><b>Name: <input type="text" name="nameText" id="nameText" size="46"></b></font></p>
    <p><font size="3"><b>Email: <input type="text" name="fromText" id="fromText" size="46"></b></font></p>
    <input type="hidden" name="subjectText" value="Web Mail">
    <p><font face="Arial" size="3"><b>Message Text:</b></font></p>
    <p><font face="Arial" size="3"><b><textarea rows="6" name="msgText" cols="60"></textarea></b></font></p>
    <p><font size="3"><b><input type="submit" value="Send" name="send" style="font-family: Arial; font-size: 12pt; font-weight: bold"></b></font></p>
    <input type="hidden" name="state" value="1">
  </form>
  <b><font face="Arial" size="4" color="#e00000"><?php echo($announce)?></font></b><br><br>

</font>
</td></tr>
</table> 
</div>

</body>
</html>

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Author

Commented:
Thank you
Most Valuable Expert 2011
Top Expert 2016

Commented:
@burnedfaceless: You got pretty good answers here, relatively quickly.  But if you ask more complex questions, as I am sure you will over time, you may find that it takes a day or two to get really good answers.  Going forward you might want to consider leaving your questions open for 24 hours.  If you plan on doing that, and find that you got a perfect answer immediately, you can always close them earlier.  

Thanks for the points and thanks for using EE, ~Ray