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Create a Dynamic Username Validator with PHP, MySQL and jQuery Page 2

By W. Jason Gilmore
on May 10, 2011

Talking to PHP with jQuery

JQuery supports a method called $.post which facilitates the transmission of form values to the Web server. We can use the $.post method to send the desired username to a PHP script, which will subsequently query the accounts table to determine whether the username has already been chosen by another user. Let’s start with the revised jQuery code:
<script type="text/javascript" charset="utf-8">
google.setOnLoadCallback(function() {
  $('#username').blur(function() {
    $.post('validate.php', {'username': $('#username').val()},
      function(response) {
        if (response == 0) {
        } else {
          $("#exists").html("Not available!");
The $.post() method sends a POST request to validate.php (which in this example resides in the same directory as the registration form; you’ll use a URL if the validator resides elsewhere), passing along a POST variable named username which contains the current value of the username field. The returned response value is examined to determine whether the username is available, and a DIV named exists is updated accordingly. Therefore you’ll need to add the DIV to the form, presumably in the immediate vicinity of the username field:
<input type="text" id="username" name="username" size="25" />
<span id="exists"></span>
The PHP script (validate.php ) used to determine whether the username exists is presented next. As you can see this is a straightforward script, using the MySQLi extension in conjunction with prepared statements to determine whether the provided username exists. If no rows are found, zero is returned, otherwise one is returned.

  // jQuery's $.post() sends parameters using the POST method
  $username = $_POST['username'];

  // Connect to the MySQL server
  $db = new mysqli("localhost", "webuser", "secret", "website");

  // Create a prepared statement which queries the table for a username
  $stmt = $db->prepare("SELECT id FROM accounts WHERE username = ?");

  // Bind the $username variable to the placeholder
  $stmt->bind_param('s', $username); 

  // Execute the prepared statement

  // You *must* store the result in order to determine the row count

  // How many rows were returned?
  echo $stmt->num_rows;

The beauty of this approach is the ability to decorate the response in any way you see fit. While this example simply updated a DIV with a simple message, you could use jQuery’s other DOM manipulation capabilities to add or change the DIV’s CSS attributes, cause the form field to turn red or green depending on the outcome, or implement any other visual cue which you think will help the user to effortlessly complete the registration process.


Do you use Ajax to simplify the account registration process? Share your tips and tricks in the comments!

About the Author

Jason Gilmore is founder of the publishing, training, and consulting firm WJGilmore.com. He is the author of several popular books, including “Easy PHP Websites with the Zend Framework”, “Easy PayPal with PHP”, and “Beginning PHP and MySQL, Fourth Edition”. Follow him on Twitter at @wjgilmore.