By AUllah1

2010-09-10 15:55:59 8 Comments

Using php, I'm trying to create a script which will search within a text file and grab that entire line and echo it.

I have a text file (.txt) titled "numorder.txt" and within that text file, there are several lines of data, with new lines coming in every 5 minutes (using cron job). The data looks similar to:

2 aullah1
7 name
12 username

How would I go about creating a php script which will search for the data "aullah1" and then grab the entire line and echo it? (Once echoed, it should display "2 aullah1" (without quotations).

If I didn't explain anything clearly and/or you'd like me to explain in more detail, please comment.


@Lekensteyn 2010-09-10 16:05:31

And a PHP example, multiple matching lines will be displayed:

$file = 'somefile.txt';
$searchfor = 'name';

// the following line prevents the browser from parsing this as HTML.
header('Content-Type: text/plain');

// get the file contents, assuming the file to be readable (and exist)
$contents = file_get_contents($file);
// escape special characters in the query
$pattern = preg_quote($searchfor, '/');
// finalise the regular expression, matching the whole line
$pattern = "/^.*$pattern.*\$/m";
// search, and store all matching occurences in $matches
if(preg_match_all($pattern, $contents, $matches)){
   echo "Found matches:\n";
   echo implode("\n", $matches[0]);
   echo "No matches found";

@poke 2010-09-10 16:13:35

Did you mean preg_match_all?

@Lekensteyn 2010-09-10 16:26:46

Yes I did, I'm used to JS 'g' flag: using one function :o

@AUllah1 2010-09-10 16:38:58

Hi Lekensteyn, I am extremely grateful of your response and fond of your coding. I'd love to use this script, however, every time I replace the text "name" within the $searchfor variable, I always get the error "No matches found". Of course, that's probably just me. There can be a lot of problems which cause this, and I'll try and find out whatever it is, but do you think it could be the coding? Again, apologies if I'm causing any hassle and I do extremely appreciate your response and efforts. Thank you. ;)

@Lekensteyn 2010-09-10 19:46:36

Added m flag and changed implode("\n", $matches) to implode("\n", $matches[0]). Tested it, and it works now. Try it again :)

@Lekensteyn 2015-12-10 11:31:11

^*. is not a valid regex... it is not an error so I have rolled back that change.

@user5521731 2015-11-16 04:23:55

 // script.php

  $searchfor = $_GET['keyword'];

         $file = 'users.txt';

   $contents = file_get_contents($file);
     $pattern = preg_quote($searchfor, '/');
    $pattern = "/^.*$pattern.*\$/m";

     if(preg_match_all($pattern, $contents, $matches)){
            echo "Found matches:<br />";
       echo implode("<br />", $matches[0]);
             echo "No matches found";
        fclose ($file); 

@vp_arth 2015-11-16 04:32:01

Provide this something brand new for this 5yrs old question?

@vp_arth 2015-11-16 04:35:33

/^.*$pattern.*\$/ expression is the same to just /$pattern/

@Thomas Fellinger 2018-10-17 20:18:35

somehow it helps me now.

@Frxstrem 2010-09-10 16:15:18

Using file() and strpos():

// What to look for
$search = 'foo';
// Read from file
$lines = file('file.txt');
foreach($lines as $line)
  // Check if the line contains the string we're looking for, and print if it does
  if(strpos($line, $search) !== false)
    echo $line;

When tested on this file:


It outputs:


To show text if the text is not found, use something like this:

$search = 'foo';
$lines = file('file.txt');
// Store true when the text is found
$found = false;
foreach($lines as $line)
  if(strpos($line, $search) !== false)
    $found = true;
    echo $line;
// If the text was not found, show a message
  echo 'No match found';

Here I'm using the $found variable to find out if a match was found.

@AUllah1 2010-09-10 16:49:50

Hi Frxstrem, thank you for your response. I'm extremely fond of it and I do appreciate your reply. The code seems to work fabulously, if possible do you think there is a possibility to add an "else" line against that "if". Something on the lines as "Not found"? Again, apologies if I'm asking for too much, just the way it is, is fine. I do appreciate your response and thank you very much! ;)

@Frxstrem 2010-09-10 19:26:07

@AUllah1: It's pretty easy to do, so I have updated my answer with that

@shamittomar 2010-09-10 16:11:13

Do it like this. This approach lets you search a file of any size (big size won't crash the script) and will return ALL lines that match the string you want.

$searchthis = "mystring";
$matches = array();

$handle = @fopen("path/to/inputfile.txt", "r");
if ($handle)
    while (!feof($handle))
        $buffer = fgets($handle);
        if(strpos($buffer, $searchthis) !== FALSE)
            $matches[] = $buffer;

//show results:

Note the way strpos is used with !== operator.

@Brad F Jacobs 2010-09-10 16:41:03

The only beef I would have is suppressing the error. In my opinion, it is better to turn display_errors off when on production, but at least this way you see any errors and can fix them while under development. +1 for a good answer though.

@AUllah1 2010-09-10 16:43:46

Hi shamittomar, thank you for your response. I extremely appreciate it and your coding! Thank you. ;) One thing though, I don't really like the idea of how the result is displayed within an array as I need the result to displayed to the end-user eventually. :( Of course, I do appreciate your response as well as your coding. Thank you. ;)

@shamittomar 2010-09-10 17:17:04

@AUllah. You're welcome. I have just printed the array of result. It is upto you to show the array in any way you want. Do a foreach loop of the $matches and echo the results with your style and choice.

@shamittomar 2010-09-10 17:18:13

@premiso, yes I agree with that practice completely. However, the if($handle) can have an else with stating that the file did not open correctly. I like this approach better. Just a matter of choice.

@Brad F Jacobs 2010-09-10 17:38:34

Yea, the else would be good for user-friendly errors. But it is nice having the actual error too while you are developing.

@StanE 2016-01-19 23:44:45

If you are using fgets() without a length (second param), then your script still might stop due to memory limit. This is because fgets() reads a line. But if you have a binary file (or a text file which is just extremely long) then the function might read until the end of the file! It does not guarantee you to read the entire file. Just add a length, e. g. 262144 (256 KiB).

@Crayon Violent 2010-09-10 16:07:14

one way...

$needle = "blah";
$content = file_get_contents('file.txt');
echo $line[1];

though it would probably be better to read it line by line with fopen() and fread() and use strpos()

@AUllah1 2010-09-10 16:41:27

Hi Crayon Violent, thank you for your response. It is extremely appreciated, however, whenever I attempt to run this code, I always end up with a blank page within my browser. I'm currently running php 5.3.2, if that where the problem lies? Again, I appreciate your response and efforts. Thank you! ;)

@Crayon Violent 2010-09-10 18:53:14

Could be any number of things, like wrong path/to/file, etc..can't really help w/out seeing what you actually did with it.. but something like this is really only good for short files. Overall as I mentioned it would be better to read it line by line, which shamittomar's answer details, so stick with that one.

@Novikov 2010-09-10 15:58:13

looks like you're better off systeming out to system("grep \"$QUERY\"") since that script won't be particularly high performance either way. Otherwise shows you how to loop over lines and you can use for finding matches.

@Crayon Violent 2010-09-10 16:01:48

well that assumes he has a linux server...

@AUllah1 2010-09-10 16:34:12

Hi Novikov, thank you for your response, I extremely appreciate it, as well as your efforts. I'll try and see if I can make heads and tails from the links you've provided. ;) The reason I can't use the system approach is that, I will eventually turn the script into a search. Of course, apologies that I didn't state this clearly. It's my fault. Sorry, and thank you for your response. ;)

@Craig Francis 2018-01-03 14:53:22

You really don't want to pass anything to system(), shell_exec(), exec(), etc without using escapeshellarg() ... it often creates a big security issue :-)

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