Sunday, February 3, 2013

WordPress Plugin Form Submissions

Development of my first WordPress plugin brought me to a basic piece of functionality, handling form submissions. I knew that I could submit a form via AJAX; however, that would not work for forms that allow file uploads without adding extra code and page markup. Being new to the world of WordPress, I went on a search for how this should be done. The search ended with a possible solution found on WordPress Answers.

The author of the solution explained that one needed to send the form action either to the site's homepage, or to a specific page URL. The author further explained that one can't have $_POST handling within a template because you need to redirect after your process it, and a redirect needs to be fired before any HTML output. It was suggested that this could be accomplished by adding a custom action by hooking into to the "template_redirect" action.

This made sense as it directly addressed my basic requirements:

  • All forms would need to be created from a single shortcode.
  • The shortcode that creates the forms would be added to a single page.
  • Form action attributes will be empty following WordPress practices.
  • Forms should be able to handle file uploads.
  • If the submission is successful, redirect the user to the correct page.
  • If the submission fails, redirect the user to an error page.

Custom Event Action

I implemented a custom action named "check_for_event_submissions" and hooked it to the "template_redirect" action. An event in this context could be more than a form submission. It could be any custom URL that triggers a plugin defined event that needs to be acted on and redirected. The example presented handles POST events only; however, it would be trivial to modify this function to handle a GET request if necessary. In short the function looks for two form post variables "event" and "view_redirect". The "event" variable describes the event to process and "view_redirect" the default redirection URL after the event is processed:

  * Custom action that handles plugin event submissions.
  * After the event is processed the action the redirects to the page
  * specified by the event.
  public function check_for_event_submissions() {
     // Handle a form post event
     if(isset($_POST['event'])) {
         // Redirect to the specified page

 // Add Actions & Filters
 add_action('template_redirect', array(&$this, 'check_for_event_submissions'));

We will finish the custom event action later as we need to create an event controller to process the events first.