Sunday, 31 July 2011

The If Statement in PHP

The If Statement

The PHP if statement is very similar to other programming languages use of the if statement, but for those who are not familiar with it, picture the following:

Think about the decisions you make before you go to sleep. If you have
something to do the next day, say go to work, school, or an appointment, then

you will set your alarm clock to wake you up. Otherwise, you will sleep in as
long as you like!
This simple kind of if/then statement is very common in every day life and
also appears in programming quite often. Whenever you want to make a decision
given that something is true (you have something to do tomorrow) and be sure that you
take the appropriate action, you are using an if/then relationship.

The PHP If Statement

The if statement is necessary for most programming, thus it is important in PHP. Imagine that on January
1st you want to print out "Happy New Year!" at the top of your personal web page. With the use of PHP if statements you could have this process automated,
months in advance, occuring every year on January 1st.
This idea of planning for future
events is something you would never have had the opportunity of doing if you
had just stuck with HTML.

If Statement Example

The "Happy New Year" example would be a little difficult for you
to do right now, so let us instead start off with the basics of the if statement.
The PHP if statement tests to see if a value is true, and if it is a segment of
code will be executed. See the example below for the form of a PHP if statement.

PHP Code:

$my_name = "someguy";

if ( $my_name == "someguy" ) {
 echo "Your name is someguy!<br />";
echo "Welcome to my homepage!";


Your name is someguy!

Welcome to my homepage!

Did you get that we were comparing the variable $my_name with "someguy" to see if they
were equal? In PHP you use the double equal sign (==) to compare values.
Additionally, notice that because the if statement turned out to be true, the code segment
was executed, printing out "Your name is someguy!". Let's go a bit more in-depth into this example
to iron out the details.
  • We first set the variable $my_name equal to "someguy".
  • We next used a PHP if statement to check if the value contained in the
    variable $my_name was equal to "someguy"
  • The comparison between $my_name and "someguy" was done with a double equal
    sign "==", not a single equals"="! A single equals is for assigning a value
    to a variable, while a double equals is for checking if things are equal.
  • Translated into english the PHP statement ( $my_name == "someguy" ) is ( $my_name
    is equal to "someguy" ).
  • $my_name is indeed equal to "someguy" so the echo statement is executed.

A False If Statement

Let us now see what happens when a PHP if statement is not true, in
other words, false. Say that we changed the above example to:

PHP Code:

$my_name = "anotherguy";

if ( $my_name == "someguy" ) {
 echo "Your name is someguy!<br />";
echo "Welcome to my homepage!";


Welcome to my homepage!

Here the variable contained the value "anotherguy", which is not equal to "someguy".
The if statement evaluated to false, so the code segment of the if statement was not
executed. When used properly, the if statement is a powerful tool to have in your
programming arsenal!

If/Else Conditional Statment

Has someone ever told you, "if you work hard, then you will succeed"? And what happens if you do not work hard? Well, you fail! This is an example of an if/else conditional statement.

  • If you work hard then you will succeed.

  • Else, if you do not work hard, then you will fail.

  • How does this translate into something useful for PHP developers?
    Well consider this:

    Someone comes to your website and you want to ask
    this visitor her name if it is her first time coming to your site. With an if statement
    this is easy. Simply have a conditional statement to check, "are
    you visiting for the first time". If the condition is true, then take them to
    the "Insert Your Name" page, else let her view the website as normal because you have already asked her for her name
    in the past.

    If/Else an Example

    Using these conditional statements can add a new layers of "cool" to your
    website. Here's the basic form of an if/else statement in PHP.

    PHP Code:

    $number_three = 3;
    if ( $number_three == 3 ) {
     echo "The if statement evaluated to true";
    } else {
     echo "The if statement evaluated to false";


    The if statement evaluated to true
    This is a lot to digest in one sitting, so let us step through the
    code, line by line.

    • We first made a PHP variable called $number_three and set it equal to 3.
    • In this example we compared a variable to
      an integer value. To do such a comparison we use "==", which in English means "Is Equal To".
    • $number_three is indeed Equal To 3 and so this statement will evaluate to true.
    • All code that is contained between the opening curly brace "{" that follows the if
      statement and the closing curly brace "}" will be executed when the if statement is true.
    • The code contained within the else segment will not used.

    Execute Else Code with False

    On the other hand, if the if statement was false, then the code contained in the else segment would have been
    executed. Note that the code within the if and else cannot both be executed, as
    the if statement cannot evaluate to both true and false at one time! Here is what would happen
    if we changed to $number_three to anything besides the number 3.

    PHP Code:

    $number_three = 421;
    if ( $number_three == 3 ) {
     echo "The if statement evaluated to true";
    } else {
     echo "The if statement evaluated to false";


    The if statement evaluated to false
    The variable was set to 421, which is not equal to 3 and the if statement was false. As you can see,
    the code segment contained within the else was used in this case.

    PHP - Elseif

    An if/else statement is great if you only need to check for one condition. However, what would you do if you wanted to check if your $employee variable was the company owner Bob, the Vice President Ms. Tanner, or a regular employee? To check for these different conditions you would need the elseif statement.

    PHP - Elseif What is it?

    An if statement is made up of the keyword "if" and a conditional statement (i.e. $name == "Ted").
    Just like an if statement, an elseif statement also contains a conditional statement, but it must be preceded
    by an if statement. You cannot have an elseif statement without first having an if statement.

    When PHP evaluates your If...elseif...else statement it will first see if the If statement is true. If that
    tests comes out false it will then check the first elseif statement. If that is false it will either check the next
    elseif statement, or if there are no more elseif statements, it will evaluate the else segment, if one exists (I don't
    think I've ever used the word "if" so much in my entire life!). Let's take a look at a real world example.

    PHP - Using Elseif with If...Else

    Let's start out with the base case. Imagine we have a simpler version of the problem described above.
    We simply want
    to find out if the employee is the Vice President Ms. Tanner. We only need an if else statement for
    this part of the example.

    PHP Code:

    $employee = "Bob";
    if($employee == "Ms. Tanner"){
     echo "Hello Ma'am";
    } else {
     echo "Morning";
    Now, if we wanted to also check to see if the big boss Bob was the employee we need
    to insert an elseif clause.

    PHP Code:

    $employee = "Bob";
    if($employee == "Ms. Tanner"){
     echo "Hello Ma'am";
    } elseif($employee == "Bob"){
     echo "Good Morning Sir!";
    }else {
     echo "Morning";


    Good Morning Sir!

    PHP first checked to see if $employee was equal to "Ms. Tanner", which evaluated to
    false. Next, PHP checked the first elseif statement. $employee did in
    fact equal "Bob" so the phrase "Good Morning Sir!" was printed out. If we wanted
    to check for more employee names we could insert more elseif statements!

    Remember that an elseif statement cannot be used unless it is preceded
    by an if statement!

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