Chapter 21. Using remote files

As long as support for the "URL fopen wrapper" is enabled when you configure PHP (which it is unless you explicitly pass the --disable-url-fopen-wrapper flag to configure (for versions up to 4.0.3) or set allow_url_fopen to off in php.ini (for newer versions)), you can use HTTP and FTP URLs with most functions that take a filename as a parameter, including the require() and include() statements.

Note: The Windows version of PHP currently does not support remote file accessing for the following functions: include(), include_once(), require() and require_once().

For example, you can use this to open a file on a remote web server, parse the output for the data you want, and then use that data in a database query, or simply to output it in a style matching the rest of your website.

Example 21-1. Getting the title of a remote page

<?php
$file = fopen ("http://www.example.com/", "r");
if (!$file) {
    echo "<p>Unable to open remote file.\n";
    exit;
}
while (!feof ($file)) {
    $line = fgets ($file, 1024);
    /* This only works if the title and its tags are on one line */
    if (eregi ("<title>(.*)</title>", $line, $out)) {
        $title = $out[1];
        break;
    }
}
fclose($file);
?>

You can also write to files on an FTP as long you connect as a user with the correct access rights, and the file doesn't exist already. To connect as a user other than 'anonymous', you need to specify the username (and possibly password) within the URL, such as 'ftp://user:password@ftp.example.com/path/to/file'. (You can use the same sort of syntax to access files via HTTP when they require Basic authentication.)

Example 21-2. Storing data on a remote server

<?php
$file = fopen ("ftp://ftp.example.com/incoming/outputfile", "w");
if (!$file) {
    echo "<p>Unable to open remote file for writing.\n";
    exit;
}
/* Write the data here. */
fputs ($file, $_SERVER['HTTP_USER_AGENT'] . "\n");
fclose ($file);
?>

Note: You might get the idea from the example above to use this technique to write to a remote log, but as mentioned above, you can only write to a new file using the URL fopen() wrappers. To do distributed logging like that, you should take a look at syslog().