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php – capturing echo into a variable

Posted by: admin April 23, 2020 Leave a comment


I am calling functions using dynamic function names (something like this)

$unsafeFunctionName = $_POST['function_name'];
$safeFunctionName   = safe($unsafeFunctionName); // custom safe() function

Then I am wanting to wrap some xml around the returned value of the function (something like this):

// xml header etc already created
$result = "<return_value>" . $safeFunctionName() . "</return_value>";

Problem is, sometimes the function returns a value, but sometimes, the function echo’s a value. What I want to do is capture that echo into a variable, but, the code I write would need to work either way (meaning, if function returns a value, or echo’s a string).

Not quite sure where to start ~ any ideas?

How to&Answers:

Let me preface this by saying:

Be careful with that custom function calling business. I am assuming you know how dangerous this can be which is why you’re cleaning it somehow.

Past that, what you want is known as output buffering:

function hello() {
    print "Hello World";
$output = ob_get_clean();
print "--" . $output . "--";

(I added the dashes to show it’s not being printed at first)

The above will output --Hello World--


PHP: ob_get_contents

ob_start(); //Start output buffer
echo "abc123";
$output = ob_get_contents(); //Grab output
ob_end_clean(); //Discard output buffer


In order to use the output value, if present, or the return value if not, you could simply modify your code like this:

$return_val = $safeFunctionName();
$echo_val = ob_get_clean();
$result = "<return_value>" . (strlen($echo_val) ? $echo_val : $return_val) . "</return_value>";