By deceze


2012-12-12 13:03:00 8 Comments

I have this code:

<script type="text/javascript">
    var foo = 'bar';
    <?php
        file_put_contents('foo.txt', ' + foo + ');
    ?>

    var baz = <?php echo 42; ?>;
    alert(baz);
</script>

Why does this not write "bar" into my text file, but alerts "42"?


NB: Earlier revisions of this question were explicitly about PHP on the server and JavaScript on the client. The essential nature of the problem and solutions is the same for any pair of languages when one is running on the client and the other on the server. Please take this in to account when you see answers talking about specific languages.

5 comments

@NullPoiиteя 2013-07-01 11:52:42

To determine why PHP code doesn't work in JavaScript code we need to understand what client side and server side languages are, and how they work.

Server-side languages (PHP etc.): They retrieve records from databases, maintain state over the stateless HTTP connection, and do a lot of things that require security. They reside on the server, these programs never have their source code exposed to the user.

Image from wikipedia_http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Scheme_dynamic_page_en.svg image attr

So you can easily see that server side languages handle HTTP requests and process them, and, as @deceze said, PHP is executed on the server and outputs some HTML, and maybe JavaScript code, which is sent as a response to the client, where the HTML is interpreted and JavaScript is executed.

On the other hand, Client Side Languages (like JavaScript) reside in browser and run in the browser. Client-side scripting generally refers to the class of computer programs on the web that are executed client-side, by the user's web browser, instead of server-side.

JavaScript is visible to the user and can be easily modified, so for security stuff we must not rely on JavaScript.

So when you make a HTTP request on server, the server first reads the PHP file carefully to see if there are any tasks that need to be executed, and sends a response to the client side. Again, as @deceze said, *Once PHP has finished outputting the response, the script ends and nothing will happen on the server until a new HTTP request comes in.*

Graphical representation

Image source

So now what can I do if I need to call PHP? It depends how you need to do it: either by reloading the page or by using an AJAX call.

  1. You can do so by reloading the page and sending a HTTP request
  2. You can make an AJAX call with JavaScript - this does not require reloading page

Good Read:

  1. Wikipedia : Server-side scripting
  2. Wikipedia : Client-side scripting
  3. Madara Uchiha : Difference between client side and server side programming

@NAVIN 2018-08-22 07:38:27

I will try to explain it in simple way.

Client Side is what user see/ code which is visible on browser.

Client Side Programming includes HTML(HTML, HTML5, DHTML), CSS(CSS, CSS3) and JavaScript(JavaScript, ES5, ES6, ES7, TypeScript, JQuery, ReactJs, AngularJs, BackboneJs or any other JavaScript Front-end framework).

Client Side programming focus on "how page will look like" and its behavior over browsers.

  1. HTML is what we see.
  2. CSS decides its designing(Colours, Floating Images, Padding, etc).
  3. JavaScript monitor page information. All the API calls and maintaining data over DOM is done by JavaScript.

Server Side Programming includes code which provide data to Client-Side. User is never able to see server-side.

Server Side Programming involves Programming Language(Java, PHP, .Net, C#, C, C++, NodeJS etc), Database(SQL, Oracle, MySql, PostgreySql, No-Sql, MongoDB, etc), Third Party API(Rest, Soap), Business Logic.

Server Side Programming focus on "how to make data available for Client-Side".

  1. Server-Side Language is responsible for communicating between different source of data like database, third-party API, file system, blockchain etc,. These languages maintain certain API for client-side to interact with.
  2. Database is responsible for storing information.
  3. Business Logic defines "how to use data and what to do with data".

Client-Side request data or request to store data, from Server-side via API provided by Server-Side. This request and response of data is done by following HTTP/FTP protocol like REST API, SOAP API.

@Quentin 2018-10-22 11:20:58

While this tries to answer the question posed in the title, it completely ignores the detail of the question body so doesn't address the problem at all.

@chandrashekar.n 2016-07-13 09:26:43

In web application every task execute in a manner of request and response.

Client side programming is with html code with Java script and its frameworks, libraries executes in the internet explorer, Mozilla, chrome browsers. In the java scenario server side programming servlets executes in the Tomcat, web-logic , j boss, WebSphere severs

@deceze 2012-12-12 13:03:00

Your code is split into two entirely separate parts, the server side and the client side.

                    |
               ---------->
              HTTP request
                    |
+--------------+    |    +--------------+
|              |    |    |              |
|    browser   |    |    |  web  server |
| (JavaScript) |    |    |  (PHP etc.)  |
|              |    |    |              |
+--------------+    |    +--------------+
                    |
  client side       |      server side
                    |
               <----------
          HTML, CSS, JavaScript
                    |

The two sides communicate via HTTP requests and responses. PHP is executed on the server and outputs some HTML and maybe JavaScript code which is sent as response to the client where the HTML is interpreted and the JavaScript is executed. Once PHP has finished outputting the response, the script ends and nothing will happen on the server until a new HTTP request comes in.

The example code executes like this:

<script type="text/javascript">
    var foo = 'bar';
    <?php
        file_put_contents('foo.txt', ' + foo + ');
    ?>

    var baz = <?php echo 42; ?>;
    alert(baz);
</script>

Step 1, PHP executes all code between <?php ?> tags. The result is this:

<script type="text/javascript">
    var foo = 'bar';

    var baz = 42;
    alert(baz);
</script>

The file_put_contents call did not result in anything, it just wrote " + foo + " into a file. The <?php echo 42; ?> call resulted in the output "42", which is now in the spot where that code used to be.

This resulting HTML/JavaScript code is now sent to the client, where it gets evaluated. The alert call works, while the foo variable is not used anywhere.

All PHP code is executed on the server before the client even starts executing any of the JavaScript. There's no PHP code left in the response that JavaScript could interact with.

To call some PHP code, the client will have to send a new HTTP request to the server. This can happen using one of three possible methods:

  1. A link, which causes the browser to load a new page.
  2. A form submission, which submits data to the server and loads a new page.
  3. An AJAX request, which is a Javascript technique to make a regular HTTP request to the server (like 1. and 2. will), but without leaving the current page.

Here's a question outlining these method in greater detail

You can also use JavaScript to make the browser open a new page using window.location or submit a form, emulating possibilities 1. and 2.

@jcubic 2016-04-25 07:51:09

You can also open second page using window.open or load a page using an iframe.

@Quentin 2016-12-19 08:45:36

It might be worth adding WebSockets to the list of communication methods.

@FabricioG 2018-10-02 22:33:34

What if let's say drop down values get updated via jquery. When user does step 2. A form submission, which submits data to the server and loads a new page, via "Submit" button would the jquery updated values be able to be passed to a controller in php? Or would they not be visible to php since it was added to the dom via jquery? @deceze

@deceze 2018-10-03 07:30:08

@Fabricio An HTTP request will be created from the <form> data and sent to the server. You can manipulate forms using Javascript to have them contain different data. Yes, that data will be part of the resulting HTTP request if it's properly part of the form when it is being submitted; it doesn't matter whether it was in the original HTML or added afterwards via Javascript.

@NitayArt 2012-12-12 13:46:38

Your Javascript will execute on the client, not on the server. This means that foo is not evaluated on the server side and therefore its value can't be written to a file on the server.

The best way to think about this process is as if you're generating a text file dynamically. The text you're generating only becomes executable code once the browser interprets it. Only what you place between <?php tags is evaluated on the server.

By the way, making a habit of embedding random pieces of PHP logic in HTML or Javascript can lead to seriously convoluted code. I speak from painful experience.

@Brett Caswell 2015-03-10 17:10:25

Your answer here is noteworthy as it makes mention to the/a interpeter. However, javascript can be compiled and run in a server environment, and it can be interpeted by a server as well.

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