PHP Tutorials for Beginners - Creating your first PHP program FROM SCRATCH: Basic Authentication, Membership and CRUD functionalities

*Reposted from my CodeProject Article

Interested in creating your own website? Ever wondered how cool is it to have a website that has a log-in/log-out functionality? Want to learn how to Create, Read, Update, or Delete(CRUD) records in a database? Have you lost track of your previous tutorials? Well, I'm going to teach you how to create one from scratch wherein you will know every single detail on how the code works. If you are new to back-end web development, this tutorial is for you. I'll explain everything in detail so that you won't have to research some particular methods being used. We won't be using any frameworks to keep things simple. Also, I won't be focusing on the website design since we're after the functionalities though it's easy to implement the design. What will be doing is a simple item list when the users are logged in.


In this tutorial, we will be using some languages that will enhance our development. If you really don't know any of the things I will mention, it's ok. Just try to go with the flow. It's just easy to comprehend them since I'm not into using advanced methods for this one. Off course since this is creating a back-end service for a website, you must at know least the very very very basics of the following:

  1. HTML/CSS - Off course this will never get off the list when it comes to web development. Why did I even bother place this? LOL.

  2. JavaScript - For a redirecting script. No jQuery needed for now

  3. mySQL - the most basic language for querying. We will be using this for our CRUD(Create, Read, Update, Delete) functionalities.

For the software, you will be needing the following:

  1. Text Editor - Sublime Text/Notepad++ will do. This will serve as our coding environment.

  2. XAMPP - This will be our web server. This is where we will be saving our website files and save our data to the database.

  3. Web Browser - You can use any browser for as long as it doesn't eat much of your RAM.

Make sure to have those 3 installed. Do not proceed if you're not done installing them. I already provided a hyperlink to make things faster.

For our agenda on this topic:

  1. Utilize CRUD statements in SQL - Create, read, update, and delete records in a database.

  2. Simple authentication and security - Logging in and out, handling unauthorized users, and restricting access.

  3. Simple time and date manipulation - Displaying time and date postings and monitoring your posts.

  4. Displaying public and private data - Simply display information for logged-in users only and for the public

  5. De-briefing and Summary - Final output and some notes. FAQ's are also place here.

Topic Contents:

Note: In case you stopped on a certain part or want to search quickly, you can simply resume by pressing ctrl + f and look for the number where you last stopped

  1. Setting up your server

  2. Creating the public HTML Pages

  3. Creating the database and its tables

  4. Adding users to the database

  5. User log-in: Authentication

  6. Setting up the home page for Logged-in users and Logging-out

  7. Testing Page Security

  8. Adding data to the list - User Access Only

  9. Displaying data on the home page

  10. Editing Data

  11. Deleting data

  12. Displaying public data

  13. De-briefing and Summary

Make sure you follow chronologically. Don't proceed without accomplishing the previous part not unless you know the code.

Some reminders before we start:

Note: If the picture seems unclear/blurry, you can click it to view it on it's larger size. Also, pardon me for using images to display the codes rather than showing you a raw text because it can't format properly on my WordPress subscription but don't worry, I'll be uploading the finished product on the end of this tutorial to double-check your work.

----------Real Tutorials Begin Here----------

1.) Setting up your server

Now that your all set and go, as the basics of programming go, let's start by creating a simple shoutout of "hello world" in our server.

First of, go to the directory where you installed your XAMPP (Commonly in C:xampp). From there go to the htdocs folder (Commonly in C:xampphtdocs) and create a folder named "MyFirstWebsite".

1 - PHP101

From that part, you have now created a Local URL for your website. That folder will be used to supply in all website files (.html, .php, .css, .js, etc.). Open up your text editor and let's get started!

I use sublime text as my text editor. If you're using Notepad++ or any others, it's ok. It's not really a big factor but it's just a preference on which one would you like to use.

What we will do is a basic HTML page and display "hello world" from the server using a basic PHP syntax. We then type the following syntax:

Hello World

Save the file to the "MyFirstWebSite" Folder and name it as "index.php". (Directory as seen on the top part of the image)

Now that you have the file. Let's now open your XAMPP control panel. In case it doesn't appear on your desktop, it is located in your XAMPP folder as seen on the image:



Now that it's there, Run your Apache and mySQL by clicking the "Start" button on the actions column. You should see a random PID(s) and the default port number. Apache is the name of our web server wherein it will handle all the files as well as serve as the communication to the web browser and MySQL is our database which will store all of our information.

Open up your web browser and in the address bar, type localhost. You should see the menu of your XAMPP.

If it's the first time you run it, it will ask what language would you prefer, just simply pick and it will lead you to the menu. If you will notice the directory is localhost/xampp, it's where the default page leads you even if you type in localhost.


If that appears, then it means that your XAMPP server is now running. Now let's try running the website you just placed. Try typing localhost/MyFirstWebsite. It should be the same as the picture below.


If you will notice that the URL is MyFirstWebsite, it is derived from the htdocs folder and it automatically reads files that are named "index"(Be it index.html, index.aspx, etc), which serve as the default page. Typing localhost/MyfirstWebsite/index.php is just the same. You can also create your custom name for the URL by simply renaming the folder but let's just stick to MyFirstWebsite.

Note: If you don't have a file named index and you entered the URL, you will receive an error 404 for not having the file on the server. If you do have different files that are not named index.<extention>, you have to specify the specific file name. E.x: localhost/MyfirstWebsite/page.php

2.) Creating the public HTML Pages

Next, let's re-modify our website and add a registration link where our users can register as well as a Log-in page right after getting registered. Let's modify our home page with the following code:



As you can see, we only added 2 links which are for the Login and register. Let's create the registration page first:



As you can see, it's just a basic form where the user can input his/her credentials. Now for the login page:

Hint: Just copy-paste the same code to make things faster.



Basically it's just the same code as from the register.php but the changes made were the ones underlined.

Try running localhost/MyFirstWebsite again and your pages should look like this:







3.) Creating the database and it's tables

Now that we have our basic page for the public. Let's proceed to the database. First, type localhost/phpmyadmin. This will lead you to the phpmyadmin homepage:



From there, go to the Databases tab located on top then from the text box in the middle, type first_db then click on create. Just leave the Collation as is.


You have just successfully created your first database. Now from there, let's create a table wherein we can register our users and display information. First, click on first_db located on the left side and create a table named users with 3 columns then click on Go.


For the table's structure, make sure to have the following fields then click on save:

  • Format: Column Name - Type - Length - Null Property - Other Properties

  • id - INT - N/A - Not Null - Auto Increment

  • username - varchar - 50 - Not null

  • password - varchar - 50 - Not null

Leave everything by default if not specified.


Note: You need to scroll right for the auto_increment. I just edited the picture to fit the A_I field

Next, create another table named list with 7 columns and for the table's structure:

  • id - INT - N/A - Not Null - Auto Increment

  • details - text - Not null

  • date_posted - varchar - 30 - Not null

  • time_posted - Time - Not null

  • date_edited - varchar - 30 - Not null

  • time_edited - Time - Not null

  • public -varchar - 5 - Not null


4.)Adding users to the database

Now that we have our tables. Let's move on to the fun part, getting your registration page into action. From your registration.php, add the following below the HTML codes:



Here's the explanation to the code:

  • $_SERVER["REQUEST_METHOD"] == "POST" - checks if the form has received a POST method when the submit button has been clicked. The POST method is created in the HTML from the method="POST". Click here for the form method reference.

  • $_POST[''] - gets the name coming from a POST method. This just simply gets the input based on the name from the form. In our case, it's username and password.

  • mysql_real_escape_string() - encapsulates the input into a string to prevent inputs from SQL Injections. This ensures that your strings don't escape from unnecessary characters. Click here to learn more about SQL Injections.

Now try to go to your register.php and try to input anything then click on "Register". In my case, I placed in the username xtian and password as 123456. It should display the inputs below. Here's my sample:


On this part, you should have understood how to get input from the form. Now to add it to the database. On your register.php, add the following code:



Here are the explanations to the code:

  • mysql_connect("Server name","Server Username","Server Password") - The syntax used to connect to our XAMPP server. localhost or is the name of the server. The default username is root and no password for default.

  • mysql_select_db("database name") - Selects the database to be used.

  • or die('Message') - Displays the error message if the condition wasn't met.

  • mysql_query('sql query') - does the SQL queries. Click here for some SQL query samples. Then again, I'm not here to discuss mySQL.

  • mysql_fetch_array('query') - fetches all queries in the table to display or manipulate data. It is placed in a while loop so that it would query all rows. Take note that only 1 row is queried per loop that's why a while loop is necessary.

  • $row['row name'] - the value of the column in the current query. It is represented as an array. In our case, $row is the name of the variable for our row in the loop.

Try the inputs that you have made earlier and see what happens. It should prompt that you have successfully registered. Try going to phpmyadmin and see your users table:


Congratulations! Now you know how to add data into the database with data validations.

5.)User log-in: Authentication

Now for the login page. Let's create a new file called checklogin.php. The reason is going back to our login.php, our form has an action called "checklogin.php", particularly <form action = "checklogin.php" method= "POST">. If you will notice on the register.php, it's also on register.php because the back-end is done on the same file as well.

Let's now code the checklogin.php with the following syntax:



Here's the explanation of the code (Some are explained earlier so there's no need to reiterate):

  • session_start() - Starts the session. This is usually done on authenticated pages. The reason why we used this is because it's required for the $_SESSION[''].

  • mysql_num_rows() - This returns an integer. This counts all the rows depending on the query.

  • $_SESSION['name'] - Serves as the session name for the entire session. This is relatively similar to public variables in object-oriented programming. We will be using this for validating whether the user is authenticated or not.

Now try to test your input with a wrong username and password. It should return the desired prompt. After testing, try inputting the correct values. It should lead you to home.php.

Note: home.php does not exist yet so it will produce an error 404.

6.)Setting up the home page for Logged-in users and Logging-out

Now that we're authenticated, let now create our home page (home.php) with this following syntax:



Here's the explanation to the code:

  • session_start() - Basically starts the session. Required for $_SESSION[''].

  • header() - redirects the user.

Try refreshing your browser and it should look like this:


Now that we have our home, let's try creating our logout.php and test if the user's session is off. What we would do is that if the user is logged-out, the user shouldn't access home.php. So here's the simple syntax to logout.php:



The syntax is simple. session_destroy() simply remove's all session's meaning, the value of $_SESSION[''] will be removed and header() will simply redirect it to the home page.

7.)Testing Page Security

Now try refreshing home.php and click on logout. Now try clicking on the back button of your browser and see what happens:


As you can see, it doesn't direct you to home.php because you are logged out. Now for the second test, try manually inputting the address localhost/MyFirstWebsite/home.php. The same case should also happen. Since we're logged-out, even a manual input of the address doesn't access an authorized page. What we have done is a simple security mechanism wherein we redirect back unauthorized users into a public page.

Now try logging in again and let's go back to home.php.

8.) Adding data to the list - User Access Only

In our next step, let's create the adding of items to the list. As you will notice from the form, it is written as <form action="add.php" method="POST">, meaning our http post request goes to add.php and with that, we create our add.php with the following syntax:



Take note that this ain't our official add.php syntax yet, I'm just going to demonstrate the time and date syntax and getting your input.

Now go back to your home.php and try to add an item then click on "Add to list".


This should be the following output on add.php:


As you can see, we have our current time, date, and your input. Here's the explanation to the code:

  • strftime() - gets the time based on what format you've placed.

  • %X - current system time.

  • %B - current system month.

  • %d - current system day.

  • %Y - current system year.

Now let's modify our add.php and add the following data into the database together with the data from the checkbox:



Here's a little explanation:

  • foreach() - gets the value of the checkbox. As you will notice, the checkbox format in the form is name="checkbox[]". To get data from the checkbox, it has to be instantiated as an array. Doing so would make it possible to get data from multiple checkboxes.

Now try entering some data and click "Add to list". In my case, I'll just use fish again. Let's go to our phpmyadmin and let's see if the data has been added. Here's the result of my case:



9.)Displaying data on the home page

Now that we have seen that the data has been successfully added. Let's now display the data on our home page. Let's modify our home.php and let's add some columns for the date:



The explanation of the added code is quite simple. It just basically displays the data coming from the while loop. It has been explained earlier in our tutorial so I believe that by this point, you should have understood the process of getting the data in the query. Going back to the browser, try refreshing your home.php and see what happens:


It should now display that data. From our CRUD checklist, we have now accomplished Create and Read. Next is to update(edit) and delete information. If you will notice we have edited and delete links displayed on the column. I'll add another data to the list named "tuna" to have another example and this time, it's privacy to no:


10.) Editing Data

Let's now try editing our data and to do that we will use a new functionality called "GET". With our previous methods, we have been using POST as our HTTP request but this time, let's use GET for editing and deleting records. To start off, let's modify our home.php and add a little code to 2 columns:



If you have noticed, we only added a URL parameter for the edit and delete links namely id. We will be using this later to handle the data. The reason why we use id is that it's a unique identifier. It is possible for the person to have entered the same data so it's not recommended to use the details as a means for manipulation later on.

Try putting your cursor into the edit link and you will see the value of the id on the lower left:


Now that we have that, let's try creating our edit.php and let's try to get the data from there:


lines 1 - 42


Some explanations to the code:

  • !empty() - a method that checks if the value is not empty. The syntax can be reversed if you want to check if it's empty by removing the exclamation point (!), therefore it's syntax would be empty().

  • $_GET[''] - Used to get the value from the parameter. In our case, we use id as our URL parameter so the syntax would be $_GET['id'].

  • $id_exists - the variable that checks whether the given id exists.

  • $_SESSION['id'] - we place the value of id into session to use it on another file.

lines 42 - 76


The reason why we are putting the variable $id_exists is that in case the user modifies the URL parameter into a non-existing number(in our case we only have 2 rows/id's), we can display a prompt in which the data doesn't exist.

Now try clicking the edit link into the first row and it should display like this:


Let's try modifying the URL parameter by removing ?id=1 and now should result to localhost/MyFirstWebsite/edit.php and it should result like this:


Now try putting a value that is greater than the id number, in our case, let's try 5 and it should result like this:



Now that we secured our URL parameters, lets now place the edit syntax. Let's go back to edit.php and add some following code to update the information to the database:



Now try refreshing and go back to the edit page. Let's try a different data. In my case, I'll be using "Salmon" and change it to non-public:



Go ahead and click Update list and you should be redirected to home.php and see the updated list.


Now, we have a time and date of edit displayed on the Edit Time column. Our privacy has been set now to non-public and the value has changed into Salmon.

Congratulations! We have now done the edit function!

11.) Deleting data

Looking back to the CRUD, we have now done creating(adding), reading(displaying), and updating(editing) records. Now for the last part, deleting records. For this part, it's just relatively the same as what we have done on edit but what differs is just the SQL statement. Instead of using UPDATE, we will be using the DELETE syntax. In deleting records, we have to prompt people to make sure that they'd really want to delete the record so we will be adding a little javascript in home.php. To do that, let's modify our code and add some int home.php



As you have noticed, we edited the link for the delete. We changed href into "#" and added an onclick function for Javascript for the method of myFunction and inside its parameter is the id of the row. Below the table written is the Javascript syntax wherein it prompts the user if he/she wants to delete the record. If the user confirms, the page then directs to delete.php together embedded with the value of the id. Now let's create delete.php and here's the following syntax:



The code is just simple and the syntax is also the ones that we used before but noticed we have changed our request method into GET. We are now using the GET request since we have a URL parameter. Now try refreshing home.php and let's try deleting the first record. This should be the result:





Congratulations! Now we have now officially completed our CRUD statements!

12.) Displaying public data

Now for the last part, displaying public data. We will be displaying data that's been set to yes in our index.php, which is a page for non-authenticated users. It's very simple. We just have to edit our index.php and add some PHP code and table. Here's our updated index.php:



Now log-out and see your default page. It should look something like this:


Note: You won't see the data yet since we haven't set any information to public.

Now let's log-in again and this time, let's add some more data. In my case I've added the following:

  • Salad - public

  • Corn - non-public

  • Pasta - public

  • Chicken - public

  • Spaghetti - non-public

With a total of 6 data's with 3 of each privacy setting:



Now let's log-out and see our default page(index.php). It should now look like this:



As you can see, it only displays data that are set to public.

Congratulations! We have finally finished the tutorials for this session!

13.) De-briefing and Summary

In the end, you should have the following files:


As I mentioned earlier, I'll be uploading the finished product. Click here

I also uploaded the SQL file for the database in case you want to use the exact data that I have. To import the SQL file, you can just simply click on export and select the SQL file but make sure to create the database first. If you like, I can create a separate blog for that. Just let me know in the comments section.

Anticipated questions

Here are the questions that I think you will be asking. I tried to anticipate these to avoid confusions:

  • Whenever I register a new user, the same list appears. I was expecting for each different user, there would be a separate list for them. Did I do something wrong?

That's actually a good question. As you can see, I'm only teaching BASIC CRUD functionalities, authentication, and security not a membership system. Creating a separate list per user requires a separate table for each of them. So the logic behind it is for each time after you insert data, you will use a SQL syntax for creating a separate table for the user which goes something like this:

Create table $username (column1 int auto_increment, column2 varchar(50), etc...)

You can click here for the Create table syntax.

The reason why I didn't do that part is that you'll have to do a lot of querying and it would make my code look complicating which can consume a lot of time developing it so it's definitely out of my scope. It would be better if you just try it out yourself and figure out the way. After all, everything you need is already in this blog.

  • Would it be easier to use master pages? Because I've noticed you had to re-write the server and database connection all over again for each page

Yes, it is easier to use master pages. The reason why I didn't use it is for our readers to easily understand the logic behind it. Maser pages can make it a bit confusing for starters.

  • Why not use a framework? I bet that would look neat and easy.

Then again, I mentioned in the title Creating your First PHP Program FROM SCRATCH. It's nice to start off from nothing that from a "template" so that our reader would know the code by heart.

  • I know that this is might be an old way of developing PHP. I've heard that there are new features released.

I only presented based on my mastery. I've been working with PHP for a long time now and I might not hear about new features. If you think the new one makes it look good then try it out then.

  • Why not create a separate file for the CSS and Javascript?

Simple, I'm only demonstrating to you about the functionalities. Were more on the back-end code rather than the front-end. I really didn't focus on the design. If you ask how to design your code with the PHP, well it's as easy as styling a regular HTML file.

Well, I guess that concludes everything. Thanks guys I hope you learned something from this topic. I'm currently creating an ASP.NET MVC version of this one so watch out!

Follow me on Twitter: @xtnguevara

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  • PaulReply
    March 26, 2014 11:55 PM

    Nice tutorial. Really helpful especially from me that’s just starting out from PHP. Thanks and hope you could bring more tutorials!

    • Kristian
      Nov 14, 2015 4:00 PM

      Thanks and yup, will be bringing out more articles :)

  • WarunaReply
    Nov 13, 2015 10:46 PM

    This is a very helpful tutorial for beginners. Thank you very much for helping for student. long live. take care.

    • Kristian
      Nov 14, 2015 4:00 PM

      Thanks mate and hope this can help on your projects :)

  • VitalisReply
    Dec 11, 2015 2:57 AM

    Thanks so much for this exposure. Please how can one create a data persistence page in CRUD? Help Vitalis

    • Kristian
      Dec 25, 2015 4:00 PM

      Np. You can use sessions for data persistence.

  • tareqReply
    Aug 20, 2016 6:58 AM

    Actually awesome.Pls give me this topic content to my email address.

    • moving wordpress from localhost to serverReply
      Aug 20, 2016 6:58 AM

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      • cristina jesuitasReply
        April 8, 2018 12:12 PM

        Great article for beginners like me. You’re a good guy having this passion to share your knowledge to others. GOD bless and more power!

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