PHP Flash Messages

Summary: in this tutorial, you’ll learn about the PHP flash messages and define a reusable flash() function to manage the flash messages effectively.

Introduction to the PHP flash messages

A flash message allows you to create a message on one page and display it once on another page. To transfer a message from one page to another, you use the $_SESSION superglobal variable.

For example, you can add a message to the $_SESSION on the first page:

<?php session_start(); $_SESSION['flash_message'] = "I'm a flash message';
Code language: PHP (php)

Later, on another page, you can get the flash message from the $_SESSION variable and assign it to a variable. Then, you delete the message from the $_SESSION and display the message:

<?php session_start(); if(isset($_SESSION['flash_message'])) { $message = $_SESSION['flash_message']; unset($_SESSION['flash_message']); echo $message; }
Code language: PHP (php)

This is a simple flash message example.

In practice, a flash message has a name (or an ID) for reference later. Also, a flash message has a type such as error, success, information, and warning. The message type allows you to make a specific style for the message

In the following section, we’ll define a set of functions that do the following:

  • Create a flash message with a name.
  • Format a flash message.
  • Display a flash message specified by a name.
  • Display all the flash messages.

Create a flash message

First, define a constant as a key for all the flash messages:

const FLASH = 'FLASH_MESSAGES';
Code language: PHP (php)

Second, define constants that define the type of flash messages including error, information, warning, and success:

const FLASH_ERROR = 'error'; const FLASH_WARNING = 'warning'; const FLASH_INFO = 'info'; const FLASH_SUCCESS = 'success';
Code language: PHP (php)

Third, define a function that creates a flash message which has a name, a message, and a type:

<?php /** * Create a flash message * * @param string $name * @param string $message * @param string $type * @return void */ function create_flash_message(string $name, string $message, string $type): void { // remove existing message with the name if (isset($_SESSION[FLASH][$name])) { unset($_SESSION[FLASH][$name]); } // add the message to the session $_SESSION[FLASH][$name] = ['message' => $message, 'type' => $type]; }
Code language: PHP (php)

Format a flash message

The following format_flash_message() function formats a flash message:

/** * Format a flash message * * @param array $flash_message * @return string */ function format_flash_message(array $flash_message): string { return sprintf('<div class="alert alert-%s">%s</div>', $flash_message['type'], $flash_message['message'] ); }
Code language: PHP (php)

In this function, we use the following HTML with the class alert and alert-$type to format the message. The message type can be an error, info, warning, and success.

The following example shows an error message:

<div class="alert alert-error"> This is an error! </div>
Code language: HTML, XML (xml)

Display a flash message

To display a flash message by a name, you check if the message name exists in the $_SESSION[FLASH] variable. If so, you get the flash message in the $_SESSION['FLASH'], remove it from the $_SESSION['FLASH'], and display the flash message:

<?php /** * Display a flash message * * @param string $name * @return void */ function display_flash_message(string $name): void { if (!isset($_SESSION[FLASH][$name])) { return; } // get message from the session $flash_message = $_SESSION[FLASH][$name]; // delete the flash message unset($_SESSION[FLASH][$name]); // display the flash message echo format_flash_message($flash_message); }
Code language: PHP (php)

Display all flash messages

The following function displays all flash messages from the $_SESSION['FLASH'] variable:

<?php /** * Display all flash messages * * @return void */ function display_all_flash_messages(): void { if (!isset($_SESSION[FLASH])) { return; } // get flash messages $flash_messages = $_SESSION[FLASH]; // remove all the flash messages unset($_SESSION[FLASH]); // show all flash messages foreach ($flash_messages as $flash_message) { echo format_flash_message($flash_message); } }
Code language: PHP (php)

Define the flash() function

It would be more convenient if we define a single flash() function that:

  • Create a flash message
  • Display a flash message
  • Display all flash messages

The following flash() function reuses the above functions:

<?php /** * Flash a message * * @param string $name * @param string $message * @param string $type (error, warning, info, success) * @return void */ function flash(string $name = '', string $message = '', string $type = ''): void { if ($name !== '' && $message !== '' && $type !== '') { create_flash_message($name, $message, $type); } elseif ($name !== '' && $message === '' && $type === '') { display_flash_message($name); } elseif ($name === '' && $message === '' && $type === '') { display_all_flash_messages(); } }
Code language: PHP (php)

To create a flash message, you pass three arguments: name, message, and type to the flash() function like this:

flash('greeting', 'Hi there', FLASH_INFO);
Code language: PHP (php)

To display a flash message by a name, you need to pass a name to the flash() function:

flash('greeting');
Code language: PHP (php)

To display all flash messages, you don’t pass any arguments to the flash() function:

flash();
Code language: PHP (php)

Put it all together

The following places all the functions in the flash.php file:

<?php const FLASH = 'FLASH_MESSAGES'; const FLASH_ERROR = 'error'; const FLASH_WARNING = 'warning'; const FLASH_INFO = 'info'; const FLASH_SUCCESS = 'success'; /** * Create a flash message * * @param string $name * @param string $message * @param string $type * @return void */ function create_flash_message(string $name, string $message, string $type): void { // remove existing message with the name if (isset($_SESSION[FLASH][$name])) { unset($_SESSION[FLASH][$name]); } // add the message to the session $_SESSION[FLASH][$name] = ['message' => $message, 'type' => $type]; } /** * Format a flash message * * @param array $flash_message * @return string */ function format_flash_message(array $flash_message): string { return sprintf('<div class="alert alert-%s">%s</div>', $flash_message['type'], $flash_message['message'] ); } /** * Display a flash message * * @param string $name * @return void */ function display_flash_message(string $name): void { if (!isset($_SESSION[FLASH][$name])) { return; } // get message from the session $flash_message = $_SESSION[FLASH][$name]; // delete the flash message unset($_SESSION[FLASH][$name]); // display the flash message echo format_flash_message($flash_message); } /** * Display all flash messages * * @return void */ function display_all_flash_messages(): void { if (!isset($_SESSION[FLASH])) { return; } // get flash messages $flash_messages = $_SESSION[FLASH]; // remove all the flash messages unset($_SESSION[FLASH]); // show all flash messages foreach ($flash_messages as $flash_message) { echo format_flash_message($flash_message); } } /** * Flash a message * * @param string $name * @param string $message * @param string $type (error, warning, info, success) * @return void */ function flash(string $name = '', string $message = '', string $type = ''): void { if ($name !== '' && $message !== '' && $type !== '') { // create a flash message create_flash_message($name, $message, $type); } elseif ($name !== '' && $message === '' && $type === '') { // display a flash message display_flash_message($name); } elseif ($name === '' && $message === '' && $type === '') { // display all flash message display_all_flash_messages(); } }
Code language: HTML, XML (xml)

A flash message example

First, create the following directory and file structure:

├── inc | ├── flash.php | ├── footer.php | └── header.php ├── page1.php └── page2.php
Code language: plaintext (plaintext)

Second, place all the functions above in the flash.php file.

Third, add the following code to the header.php file. The header.php links to the style.css file in the css folder:

<!DOCTYPE html> <html lang="en"> <head> <meta charset="UTF-8"> <meta name="viewport" content="width=device-width, initial-scale=1.0"> <link rel="stylesheet" href="https://www.phptutorial.net/app/css/style.css"> <title>PHP Flash Message</title> </head> <body>
Code language: HTML, XML (xml)

Fourth, add the following HTML to the footer.php file:

</body> </html>
Code language: HTML, XML (xml)

Fifth, create a flash message on the page1.php file by calling the flash() function:

<?php session_start(); require __DIR__ . '/inc/flash.php'; require __DIR__ . '/inc/header.php'; flash('greeting', 'Hi there', FLASH_INFO); echo '<a href="page2.php" title="Go To Page 2">Go To Page 2</a>'; require __DIR__ . '/inc/footer.php';
Code language: PHP (php)

The page1.php file has a link to the page2.php.

Finally, show the greeting message on the page2.php file by calling the flash() function and pass the name into it:

<?php session_start(); require __DIR__ . '/inc/flash.php'; require __DIR__ . '/inc/header.php'; flash('greeting'); require __DIR__ . '/inc/footer.php';
Code language: PHP (php)

If you open the page1.php page and click the link, you’ll see a message on the page2.php page.

PHP flash message use cases

In practice, you’ll use the flash messages on a signup page to redirect users to the login page with a welcome message after they sign up. Also, you’ll use the flash messages in the Post-Redirect-Get pattern, which you’ll learn in the next tutorial.

Summary

  • A flash message is created on a page and displayed once on another page.
  • Use the $_SESSION superglobal variable to manage the flash messages.
  • Use the flash() developed in this tutorial to manage flash messages.
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