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Working With Text Files in PHP


Sure, you know PHP's MySQL functions, but do you know how to read/write files in PHP? If not, then make sure you read this article. In it, Mitch teaches you everything you need to know to successfully work with files in PHP...

Author Info:
By: Mitchell Harper
Rating: 5 stars5 stars5 stars5 stars5 stars / 103
December 18, 2002
TABLE OF CONTENTS:
  1. · Working With Text Files in PHP
  2. · Opening and Reading Files
  3. · Creating and Writing Files
  4. · File Writing in Action
  5. · Conclusion

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Working With Text Files in PHP
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We've come a long way since "back in the day" when it was the "in-thing" to work with flat-files to store application data. Back then (let's say early 1990's) it was popular to save records in CSV formatted plain text files, separated by new lines.

In 1992 I was 10 and was happily plugging away in Microsoft QBasic, trying to build my first ASCII based game by saving high scores and level data into a plain-text file. It worked, but I wish MySQL was around back then!

Today in late 2002, things are a lot different.

Flat files are out and databases are in. I have worked with SQL Server, Access and Oracle, but talking as a software developer, I would have to say that MySQL is the mother of all databases. It's small. Fast. Sleek. Cross-platform. Easy to learn and gets the job done.

I love databases, but I also think that every developer should at least have some basic knowledge of how to read and write files. You may be thinking "why would I need to use flat files. If I use files they're written in XML and I just use a parser to get what I want". Well, here are a couple of reasons why you might need to work with files:
  • To move binary data (such as image files) into a database as BLOBs (Binary Large Objects)
  • To import data (such as email addresses) that has been exported from a legacy database or application.
  • To export data out of a database into a text file so that it can be processed offline
There are hundreds more reasons, many of which I'm sure you've already thought about. Anyway, today I want to run you through some basic file operations with PHP. File functions in PHP are very similar to those found in the C++ fstream library, so if you've come from a C++ background and haven't dabbled with files in PHP just yet, then you're in for an easy ride.
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