PHP tip: Trimming excess whitespace

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Excess whitespace is a constant problem when working with form data. The trim() function is usually the first tool a programmer turns to, because it removes any excess spaces from the beginning or end of a string. For example, " Wicked Cool PHP " becomes "Wicked Cool PHP." In fact, it's so handy that you may find yourself using it on almost every available piece of user-inputted, non-array data:

$user_input = trim($user_input);

But sometimes you have excessive whitespace inside a string -- when someone may be cutting and copying information from an email, for instance. In that case, you can replace multiple spaces and other whitespace with a single space by using the preg_replace() function. The reg stands for regular expression, a powerful form of pattern matching.


<?php
function remove_whitespace($string) {
$string = preg_replace('/\s+/', ' ', $string);
$string = trim($string);
return $string;
}
?>

You'll find many uses for this script outside of form verification. It's great for cleaning up data that comes from other external sources.

_________________

Today's Tip was adapted from "Wicked Cool PHP" by William Steinmetz with Brian Ward, Published by No Starch Press.
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