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PHP Script for Writing XML Files

PHP can write just about anything. The script below will concentrate on XML files.


The one thing you need to watch here is permissions. On some servers, you need permissions (CHMOD) set to 755 to use the PHP fwrite function, which all the file creations below use in their code. But on other servers (like ours, we discovered), you need permissions set to 777. There are people that understand why. We are not those people, nor is our server host. Older servers seem to need 777. Newer servers need only 755—which is obviously more secure. But this is not a hard and fast rule—your mileage may vary. If you find that you need 777, you may find your host blocks this setting. But you may find you can fwrite with only a 755 CHMOD (public_html AND the PHP script file setting). Some hosts disallow fwrite and even PHP file functions in general. You will find that write-nearly-any-type-of-file-with-php.html is the best place you can go for answers if you are testing a PHP script for writing a file and you get the dreaded permission error message.

Writing Various Types of Files

There are times when you just need to use PHP to write various types of files. The list below shows you how—it's not hard at all. There are even five PHP scripts for creating graphics/image files. For image creation, we concentrated on the simple task of allowing users to input text and using PHP to take this text and put it in a nice box with a border and save it as a graphics/image file. Let us know how you like these scripts! We kept them as simple as we could so you could get the idea in a flash.

The PHP Script for Writing XML Files

First, notice that we used escaped double quotes inside the $p string since unescaped double quotes would conflict with the double quotes the $p string is surrounded by. And of course, the newline characters are escaped (\n). We will look at XML in a second. But first, let's check out the PHP aspects of the script. The $p variable is most of the script (8 lines long!). After the closing tag for HTML is a " character. That is the end of the PHP string with the variable name $p. Next we use fopen and put in a file name and a w for write. Then we use fwrite to write the file. Next we use fclose, which you should always do when using PHP file functions. Finally we CHMOD the permissions to a nice safe 644. A created file may be getting this CHMOD by default anyway, but why take chances? Of course, your host may not allow CHMOD from a PHP file anyway. Some do; others don't.

So that takes care of the PHP, which simply writes an XML file whose contents are what's in the PHP variable string $p.

If you want to learn XML, check out an XML tutorial. XML is designed to transport and store data, and that part of it is trivial. When used with JavaScript, PHP, ASP, or Ajax, it's still fairly easy to grasp, but takes more brain cells percolating. There are hundreds of XML-based languages, including RSS and XHTML. See RSS at work at the top of this web page. Click it—it won't bite.

According to Wikipedia, "Extensible Markup Language (XML) is a set of rules for encoding documents in machine-readable form." Use it on the Internet, on mobile phones, etc. Use it for catalogs, indexes, descriptions, glossaries, notes, menus, data structuring, data identification, or inventing new internet languages for storing and transporting data. HTML is about displaying information, while XML is about carrying information. It does not DO anything. XML allows the author to define his/her own tags and his/her own document structure. HTML pages are used to display data. Data is often stored inside HTML pages. With XML this data can now be stored in a separate XML file. There is data on the Internet in databases that is not compatible with the data in other databases. Converting the data to XML can greatly reduce this complexity and create data that can be read by different types of applications.

Here is the result: my_xml_file_written_with_php.xml

$p="<?xml version=\"1.0\" encoding=\"ISO-8859-1\"?>\n
<!-- Edited by CSS-Resources -->\n
<heading>See you at the movie at 6:30pm</heading>\n
<body>I'll be the guy in the pink tutu.</body>\n
$a = fopen("my_xml_file_written_with_php.xml", 'w');
fwrite($a, $p);
chmod("my_xml_file_written_with_php.xml", 0644);