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Deep in the Code

Using the PHP explode() Function to Get Text Between Slashes of a URL

In the About.Me widget that I currently have on the right sidebar of this blog, there are quite a few HTML image tags used for the different social networks linked below the photo and bio.  None of these img tags had alt tags, which are used by Web crawlers when indexing websites.  Many SEO experts suggest having alt tags on most image tags, so I decided to fill these with the name of the service and my name.  The original PHP code that generates these icons, which is found in the “aboutme-widget/aboutme-widget.php” file on my WordPress.org site, is here:

foreach ( $data['app_icons'] as $v ) {
echo '<a href="' . esc_url( $v['url'] ) . '" target="_blank" class="am_service_icon" rel="me"><img src="' . esc_url( $v['icon'] ) . '" ></a>';
 }

Emitted HTML:

<a href="http://www.twitter.com/DeepInTheCode" target="_blank" class="am_service_icon" rel="me"><img src="http://dcbdluf1ahqio.cloudfront.net/twitter/32x32.png"></a>
<a href="http://www.linkedin.com/in/jdavidyoung" target="_blank" class="am_service_icon" rel="me"><img src="http://dcbdluf1ahqio.cloudfront.net/linkedin/32x32.png"></a>
<a href="http://plus.google.com/101089969483487596905/" target="_blank" class="am_service_icon" rel="me"><img src="http://dcbdluf1ahqio.cloudfront.net/googleplus/32x32.png"></a>

As you can see, the source of the image is stored in the array element “$v['icon']“, and has the format “http://(apparently random string).cloudfront.com/(service name)/32×32.png”.  I wanted to get the service name from each URL.  At first blush, this sounds like a regular expression problem.  However, while it is sometimes necessary, regex is often not the most elegant solution.

The PHP explode() function is perfect for this problem.  Essentially, I needed to build an array of strings from the URL and select the second from the last element of the array.  Since I didn’t need to keep this array intact, I treated it like a stack and used array_pop() to pop off the last two elements.  The code below was inserted into the foreach loop before the echo statement:

$iconarray = explode('/',$v['icon']);
 array_pop($iconarray);
 $servicename = array_pop($iconarray);

For each iteration of the loop, the $servicename variable will now hold the string that is before the last slash in the URL stored in $v['icon'].  I also wanted to capitalize the first character in the service name, and add ” profile for David Young” after each service name.  Since my name is stored in the array elements $data['first_name']  and $data['last_name'], I used those in modifying the echo statement to make this code reusable by others — or by About.Me, should they decide to incorporate it into future versions of their code.

The complete loop now looks like this:

foreach ( $data['app_icons'] as $v ) {
$iconarray = explode('/',$v['icon']);
array_pop($iconarray);
$servicename = array_pop($iconarray);
echo '<a href="' . esc_url( $v['url'] ) . '" target="_blank" class="am_service_icon" rel="me"><img src="' . esc_url( $v['icon'] ) . '" alt="' . ucfirst($servicename) . ' profile for ' .    esc_attr( $data['first_name'] ) . ' ' . esc_attr( $data['last_name'] ) . '"></a>';
 }

Emitted HTML:

<a href="http://www.twitter.com/DeepInTheCode" target="_blank" class="am_service_icon" rel="me"><img src="http://dcbdluf1ahqio.cloudfront.net/twitter/32x32.png" alt="Twitter profile for David Young"></a>
<a href="http://www.linkedin.com/in/jdavidyoung" target="_blank" class="am_service_icon" rel="me"><img src="http://dcbdluf1ahqio.cloudfront.net/linkedin/32x32.png" alt="Linkedin profile for David Young"></a>
<a href="http://plus.google.com/101089969483487596905/" target="_blank" class="am_service_icon" rel="me"><img src="http://dcbdluf1ahqio.cloudfront.net/googleplus/32x32.png" alt="Googleplus profile for David Young"></a>
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