With an understanding of the process under your belt, you’re ready to look at the most common HTML form field controls you can use to collect information in a form, and see how you can use PHP to get at this information afterward. By the way, you can use the terms form field, control, and form element interchangeably; they all mean the same thing.

All of the following examples in this section will require two Web pages. The first page retrieves information posted by the user, and the second sends the information from the Web server and scripting engine back to the browser. Note that it is entirely possible to combine a form and it’s response into a single file, but this gets cumbersome when your programs become a bit more complex. In fact, PHP programs often contain many files making up an application.

The first Web page doesn’t have to contain any PHP script at all. In fact, on many sites, the Web page that contains the form will be pure HTML and will have the suffix.htm or.html. That’s the format for all of the following examples (although later on, as your applications become more complex, the format will deviate quite a bit). Obviously there is no need to send any information to the PHP scripting engine, because if it contains no PHP, then this will just add overhead (add to the time it takes to process and generate the Web page to be returned to the browser).

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