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PHP Tutorial

PHP Introduction

PHP 5 Installation

PHP 5 Syntax

PHP 5 Variables

PHP 5 echo and print Statements

PHP 5 Data Types

PHP 5 String Functions

PHP 5 Constants

PHP Arithmetic Operators

PHP 5 if...else...elseif Statements

PHP 5 switch Statement

PHP 5 while Loops

PHP 5 for Loops

PHP 5 Functions

PHP 5 Arrays

PHP 5 Sorting Arrays

PHP 5 Superglobals

PHP Forms

PHP 5 Form Handling

PHP 5 Form Validation

PHP 5 Forms - Required Fields

PHP 5 Forms E-mail /URL

PHP Form Complete

PHP Advanced

PHP 5 Multidimensional Arrays

PHP 5 Date and Time

PHP Include Files

PHP File Handling

PHP File Open/Read

PHP File Create/Write

PHP File Upload

PHP Cookies

PHP Sessions

PHP E-mail

PHP Secure E-mails

PHP Error Handling

PHP Exception Handling

PHP Filter

PHP Database

PHP MySQL Introduction

PHP MySQL Connect

PHP Create DB/Tables

PHP MySQL Insert Into

PHP MySQL Select

PHP MySQL Where

PHP Order By

PHP Update

PHP Delete

PHP ODBC

PHP Sessions

A session is a way to store information (in variables) to be used across multiple pages.

Unlike a cookie, the information is not stored on the users computer.


What is a PHP Session?

When you work with an application, you open it, do some changes, and then you close it. This is much like a Session. The computer knows who you are. It knows when you start the application and when you end. But on the internet there is one problem: the web server does not know who you are or what you do, because the HTTP address doesn't maintain state.

Session variables solve this problem by storing user information to be used across multiple pages (e.g. username, favorite color, etc). By default, session variables last until the user closes the browser.

So; Session variables hold information about one single user, and are available to all pages in one application.

Start a PHP Session

A session is started with the session_start() function.

Session variables are set with the PHP global variable: $_SESSION.

Now, let's create a new page called "demo_session1.php". In this page, we start a new PHP session and set some session variables:

Example

<?php
// Start the session
session_start();
?>
<html>
<body>

<?php
// Set session variables
$_SESSION["favcolor"] = "green";
$_SESSION["favanimal"] = "cat";
echo "Session variables are set.";
?>

</body>
</html>

Get PHP Session Variable Values

Next, we create another page called "demo_session2.php". From this page, we will access the session information we set on the first page ("demo_session1.php").

Notice that session variables are not passed individually to each new page, instead they are retrieved from the session we open at the beginning of each page (session_start()).

Also notice that all session variable values are stored in the global $_SESSION variable:

Example

<?php
session_start();
?>
<html>
<body>

<?php
// Echo session variables that were set on previous page
echo "Favorite color is " . $_SESSION["favcolor"] . ".<br>";
echo "Favorite animal is " . $_SESSION["favanimal"] . ".";
?>

</body>
</html>

Another way to show all the session variable values for a user session is to run the following code:

Example

<?php
session_start();
?>
<html>
<body>

<?php
print_r($_SESSION);
?>

</body>
</html>

How does it work? 
How does it know it's me?


Most sessions set a user-key on the user's computer that looks something like this: 765487cf34ert8dede5a562e4f3a7e12. Then, when a session is opened on another page, it scans the  computer for a user-key. If there is a match, it accesses that session, if not, it starts a new session.

Modify a PHP Session Variable

To change a session variable, just overwrite it:

Example

<?php
session_start();
?>
<html>
<body>

<?php
// to change a session variable, just overwrite it 
$_SESSION["favcolor"] = "yellow";
print_r($_SESSION);
?>

</body>
</html>

Destroy a PHP Session

To remove all global session variables and destroy the session, use session_unset() and session_destroy():

Example

<?php
session_start();
?>
<html>
<body>

<?php
// remove all session variables
session_unset(); 

// destroy the session 
session_destroy(); 
?>

</body>
</html>