php interview questions

Top php frequently asked interview questions

startsWith() and endsWith() functions in PHP

How can I write two functions that would take a string and return if it starts with the specified character/string or ends with it?

For example:

$str = '|apples}';

echo startsWith($str, '|'); //Returns true
echo endsWith($str, '}'); //Returns true

Source: (StackOverflow)

How can I prevent SQL-injection in PHP?

If user input is inserted without modification into an SQL query, then the application becomes vulnerable to SQL injection, like in the following example:

$unsafe_variable = $_POST['user_input']; 

mysql_query("INSERT INTO `table` (`column`) VALUES ('$unsafe_variable')");

That's because the user can input something like value'); DROP TABLE table;--, and the query becomes:

INSERT INTO `table` (`column`) VALUES('value'); DROP TABLE table;--')

What can be done to prevent this from happening?

Source: (StackOverflow)

Reference - What does this symbol mean in PHP?

What is this?

This is a collection of questions that come up every now and then about syntax in PHP. This is also a Community Wiki, so everyone is invited to participate in maintaining this list.

Why is this?

It used to be hard to find questions about operators and other syntax tokens.¹
The main idea is to have links to existing questions on Stack Overflow, so it's easier for us to reference them, not to copy over content from the PHP Manual.

¹ Note: Since January 2013, Stack Overflow does support special characters. Just surround the search terms by quotes, e.g. [php] "==" vs "==="

What should I do here?

If you have been pointed here by someone because you have asked such a question, please find the particular syntax below. The linked pages to the PHP manual along with the linked questions will likely answer your question then. If so, you are encouraged to upvote the answer. This list is not meant as a substitute to the help others provided.

The List

If your particular token is not listed below, you might find it in the List of Parser Tokens.

& Bitwise Operators or References

=& References

&= Bitwise Operators

&& Logical Operators

% Arithmetic Operators

!! Logical Operators

@ Error Control Operators

?: Ternary Operator

?? Null Coalesce Operator (since PHP 7)

: Alternative syntax for control structures, Ternary Operator

:: Scope Resolution Operator

\ Namespaces

-> Classes And Objects

=> Arrays

^ Bitwise Operators

>> Bitwise Operators

<< Bitwise Operators

<<< Heredoc or Nowdoc

= Assignment Operators

== Comparison Operators

=== Comparison Operators

!== Comparison Operators

!= Comparison Operators

<> Comparison Operators

<=> Comparison Operators (since PHP 7.0)

| Bitwise Operators

|| Logical Operators

~ Bitwise Operators

+ Arithmetic Operators, Array Operators

+= Assignment Operators

++ Incrementing/Decrementing Operators

.= Assignment Operators

. String Operators

, Function Arguments

$$ Variable Variables

` Execution Operator

<?= Short Open Tags

[] Arrays

<? Opening and Closing tags

... Argument unpacking (since PHP 5.6)

** Exponentiation (since PHP 5.6)

# One-line shell-style comment

Source: (StackOverflow)

Check if string contains specific words?


$a = 'How are you?';

if ($a contains 'are')
    echo 'true';

Suppose I have the code above, what is the correct way to write the statement if ($a contains 'are')?

Source: (StackOverflow)

Using a regular expression to validate an email address

Over the years I have slowly developed a regular expression that validates MOST email addresses correctly, assuming they don't use an IP address as the server part.

I use it in several PHP programs, and it works most of the time. However, from time to time I get contacted by someone that is having trouble with a site that uses it, and I end up having to make some adjustment (most recently I realized that I wasn't allowing 4-character TLDs).

What's the best regular expression you have or have seen for validating emails?

I've seen several solutions that use functions that use several shorter expressions, but I'd rather have one long complex expression in a simple function instead of several short expression in a more complex function.

Source: (StackOverflow)

How do you use bcrypt for hashing passwords in PHP?

Every now and then I hear the advice "Use bcrypt for storing passwords in PHP, bcrypt rules".

But what is bcrypt? PHP doesn't offer any such functions, Wikipedia babbles about a file-encryption utility and Web searches just reveal a few implementations of Blowfish in different languages. Now Blowfish is also available in PHP via mcrypt, but how does that help with storing passwords? Blowfish is a general purpose cipher, it works two ways. If it could be encrypted, it can be decrypted. Passwords need a one-way hashing function.

What is the explanation?

Source: (StackOverflow)

Convert HTML + CSS to PDF with PHP?

Ok, I'm now banging my head against a brick wall with this one.

I have an HTML (not XHTML) document that renders fine in Firefox 3 and IE 7. It uses fairly basic CSS to style it and renders fine in HTML.

I'm now after a way of converting it to PDF. I have tried:

  • DOMPDF: it had huge problems with tables. I factored out my large nested tables and it helped (before it was just consuming up to 128M of memory then dying--thats my limit on memory in php.ini) but it makes a complete mess of tables and doesn't seem to get images. The tables were just basic stuff with some border styles to add some lines at various points;
  • HTML2PDF and HTML2PS: I actually had better luck with this. It rendered some of the images (all the images are Google Chart URLs) and the table formatting was much better but it seemed to have some complexity problem I haven't figured out yet and kept dying with unknown node_type() errors. Not sure where to go from here; and
  • Htmldoc: this seems to work fine on basic HTML but has almost no support for CSS whatsoever so you have to do everything in HTML (I didn't realize it was still 2001 in Htmldoc-land...) so it's useless to me.

I tried a Windows app called Html2Pdf Pilot that actually did a pretty decent job but I need something that at a minimum runs on Linux and ideally runs on-demand via PHP on the Webserver.

I really can't believe I'm this stuck. Am I missing something?

Source: (StackOverflow)

Secure hash and salt for PHP passwords

It is currently said that MD5 is partially unsafe. Taking this into consideration, I'd like to know which mechanism to use for password protection.

This question, Is “double hashing” a password less secure than just hashing it once? suggests that hashing multiple times may be a good idea, whereas How to implement password protection for individual files? suggests using salt.

I'm using PHP. I want a safe and fast password encryption system. Hashing a password a million times may be safer, but also slower. How to achieve a good balance between speed and safety? Also, I'd prefer the result to have a constant number of characters.

  1. The hashing mechanism must be available in PHP
  2. It must be safe
  3. It can use salt (in this case, are all salts equally good? Is there any way to generate good salts?)

Also, should I store two fields in the database (one using MD5 and another one using SHA, for example)? Would it make it safer or unsafer?

In case I wasn't clear enough, I want to know which hashing function(s) to use and how to pick a good salt in order to have a safe and fast password protection mechanism.

Related questions that don't quite cover my question:

What's the difference between SHA and MD5 in PHP
Simple Password Encryption
Secure methods of storing keys, passwords for
How would you implement salted passwords in Tomcat 5.5

Source: (StackOverflow)

Sort Multi-dimensional Array by Value [duplicate]

Possible Duplicate:
How do I Sort a Multidimensional Array in PHP

How can I sort this array by the value of the "order" key? Even though the values are currently sequential, they will not always be.

    [0] => Array
            [hashtag] => a7e87329b5eab8578f4f1098a152d6f4
            [title] => Flower
            [order] => 3

    [1] => Array
            [hashtag] => b24ce0cd392a5b0b8dedc66c25213594
            [title] => Free
            [order] => 2

    [2] => Array
            [hashtag] => e7d31fc0602fb2ede144d18cdffd816b
            [title] => Ready
            [order] => 1

Source: (StackOverflow)

PHP detecting request type (GET, POST, PUT or DELETE)

How can I detect which request type was used(GET, POST, PUT or DELETE) in php?

Source: (StackOverflow)

When to use self over $this?

In PHP 5, what is the difference between using self and $this?

When is each appropriate?

Source: (StackOverflow)

UTF-8 all the way through

I'm setting up a new server, and want to support UTF-8 fully in my web application. I have tried in the past on existing servers and always seem to end up having to fall back to ISO-8859-1.

Where exactly do I need to set the encoding/charsets? I'm aware that I need to configure Apache, MySQL and PHP to do this - is there some standard checklist I can follow, or perhaps troubleshoot where the mismatches occur?

This is for a new Linux server, running MySQL 5, PHP 5 and Apache 2.

Source: (StackOverflow)

What's the best method for sanitizing user input with PHP?

Is there a catchall function somewhere that works well for sanitizing user input for SQL injection and XSS attacks, while still allowing certain types of html tags?

Source: (StackOverflow)

How should I ethically approach user password storage for later plaintext retrieval?

As I continue to build more and more websites and web applications I am often asked to store user's passwords in a way that they can be retrieved if/when the user has an issue (either to email a forgotten password link, walk them through over the phone, etc.) When I can I fight bitterly against this practice and I do a lot of ‘extra’ programming to make password resets and administrative assistance possible without storing their actual password.

When I can’t fight it (or can’t win) then I always encode the password in some way so that it at least isn’t stored as plaintext in the database—though I am aware that if my DB gets hacked that it won’t take much for the culprit to crack the passwords as well—so that makes me uncomfortable.

In a perfect world folks would update passwords frequently and not duplicate them across many different sites—unfortunately I know MANY people that have the same work/home/email/bank password, and have even freely given it to me when they need assistance. I don’t want to be the one responsible for their financial demise if my DB security procedures fail for some reason.

Morally and ethically I feel responsible for protecting what can be, for some users, their livelihood even if they are treating it with much less respect. I am certain that there are many avenues to approach and arguments to be made for salting hashes and different encoding options, but is there a single ‘best practice’ when you have to store them? In almost all cases I am using PHP and MySQL if that makes any difference in the way I should handle the specifics.

Additional Information for Bounty

I want to clarify that I know this is not something you want to have to do and that in most cases refusal to do so is best. I am, however, not looking for a lecture on the merits of taking this approach I am looking for the best steps to take if you do take this approach.

In a note below I made the point that websites geared largely toward the elderly, mentally challenged, or very young can become confusing for people when they are asked to perform a secure password recovery routine. Though we may find it simple and mundane in those cases some users need the extra assistance of either having a service tech help them into the system or having it emailed/displayed directly to them.

In such systems the attrition rate from these demographics could hobble the application if users were not given this level of access assistance, so please answer with such a setup in mind.

Thanks to Everyone

This has been a fun questions with lots of debate and I have enjoyed it. In the end I selected an answer that both retains password security (I will not have to keep plain text or recoverable passwords), but also makes it possible for the user base I specified to log into a system without the major drawbacks I have found from normal password recovery.

As always there were about 5 answers that I would like to have marked correct for different reasons, but I had to choose the best one--all the rest got a +1. Thanks everyone!

Also, thanks to everyone in the Stack community who voted for this question and/or marked it as a favorite. I take hitting 100 up votes as a compliment and hope that this discussion has helped someone else with the same concern that I had.

Source: (StackOverflow)

How to fix "Headers already sent" error in PHP

When running my script, I am getting several errors like this:

Warning: Cannot modify header information - headers already sent by (output started at /some/file.php:12) in /some/file.php on line 23

The lines mentioned in the error messages contain header() and setcookie() calls.

What could be the reason for this? And how to fix it?

Source: (StackOverflow)