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Implementing a Template Based Web Site With PHP

Template based web sites allow you to produce dynamic web content and give your visitors the appearance that each page on your site is different. In this article James shows us how to implement a template based web site using two methods: a MySQL database and a flat file approach.

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By: James Crowley
Rating: 4 stars4 stars4 stars4 stars4 stars / 8
April 09, 2002
  1. · Implementing a Template Based Web Site With PHP
  2. · Templates in a database
  3. · Templates in a folder
  4. · The PHP Code
  5. · Conclusion

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Implementing a Template Based Web Site With PHP - Templates in a database
(Page 2 of 5 )

Our example (which is the same method used on my site) uses a number of templates stored in either a MySQL database or a directory. Each template contains static HTML content, as well as 'variable' tags that will be replaced with data by your PHP script. Lets take a look at one possible template:










As you can see, the template is made up of standard html elements, but also includes PHP variables, such as $pagetitle. These will eventually be replaced with values specified in our script. First however, we'll create a function to read these templates. In fact, we'll create two: one that uses the database method, and one that uses the directory method. You can use either, and both will work throughout the rest of this tutorial.

Here's create the database function:

function gettemplate($templatename)


global $templatecache;

#check if template has already been loaded

if ($templatecache[$templatename]!="") {

#return cached version

$template = $templatecache[$templatename];

} else {

#retrieve from database

$query = mysql_query("SELECT content FROM templates WHERE name='$templatename'");

if (mysql_num_rows($queryid)!=0) {

#get the db field

$template = mysql_result($query,"content");

#replace \" with \\" ... this will be needed later in the script

$template = str_replace("\"","\\\"",$template);

#cache the contents

$templatecache[$name] = $template;

} else {




return $template;


The function shown above is very simple. Firstly it checks to see if we have a copy of the template in cache (to save time accessing the database or file system again). If it hasn't, then it queries the database and gets the content field. Please note that the previous code assumes that you have already established a connection to the database and selected the database using mysql_connect and mysql_select_db. The function also requires a table in the database called templates, created using the following MySQL statement:

CREATE TABLE templates (


name varchar(30) NOT NULL,


UNIQUE (name)


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