php posts

Quick regex to strip html tags

Recently, I needed to strip some HTML tags from some data. The goal was to make a field in a database that was a WYSIWYG text area into plain text content that could go inside a link. I did it using a simple regex of /<\/?[^>]+>/ to find the tags so I could replace them with an empty string. In PHP, this looked like:

$string = preg_replace('/<\/?[^>]+>/', '', $string);

This is perhaps a naïve implementation, but it served my purposes fine. Of course, I had totally forgotten about PHP’s built in strip_tags() function, but on comparing it, it also seems to not do exactly what I want. For instance, it seems to get rid of the content of <a> tags.


Sending email attachments with PHP `mail`

I recently had to set up a PHP script to send an email with an attachment. With the current version of our CMS, we have swiftmailer available, which would make this easy, but for this site, I didn’t have it easily available. I considered bringing it in, but since this was just a simple script, I decided to give a go at doing it directly with PHP’s built in mail() function. I found an answer on StackOverflow to guide me. Many respondents to that question recommended just using a library, but the answers that didn’t seemed reasonable.

It took me a number of failed attempts to get the headers and line-breaks just right so that both the email message and attachment sent properly, but I got it working. The code of my solution was fairly specific to the application, so I’ve modified it to make it more generically applicable for this post. The (untested but generic) variant of the solution looks like:

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Globbing files including dot-files

Normally globbing for the wildcard * will find all files in a directory except for ones beginning with a .. Sometimes I need to get all files including the dot-files. The pattern .* will find these hidden files, but will also include . and .., referring to the directory and its parent. As I’ve learned in the past, this can be dangerous with commands like rm, (i.e. you running rm -rf .* to remove dot-files will remove more than expected). Today, needing to get all files in a particular path in PHP, I sought a solution. A post on a Perl forum gave me a solution using curly braces: {.??*,.[!.],*}. Braces basically allow multiple comma-separated patterns to be evaluated. The three patterns are:

  1. .??* matches a dot followed by two characters followed by any number of characters.
  2. .[!.] matches a dot followed by a single character that isn’t a dot. This is needed since the previous pattern doesn’t match this case.
  3. * is the normal wildcard glob, matching all non-dot-files.

In PHP, the glob() function requires the GLOB_BRACE flag to use braces. An example might look like: $files = glob($path . '/{.??*,.[!.],*}', GLOB_BRACE);. This did exactly what I wanted.


I got PHP 7 working locally finally. It worked for CLI just fine when I first installed it soon after its initial release, but it wasn’t working with Apache. I’ve been upgrading every once in a while and finally, today, it worked. Now I just have to wait until Dreamhost supports it until I can start playing with it for my own site. At work, though, I’m still stuck back in PHP 5.3 land because of needing to support some old sites.