Posts tagged ‘PHP’

So in my last post about Internationalization, I covered some non-obvious things that you should consider when adding translation capabilities to your code.

Today, let’s add to that by covering some non-obvious translation functions. You’re probably not using these, since they don’t get talked about as much. But there’s probably places where you should be using them, so knowing about them is the first step. And knowing is half the battle.

Basic functions, again

Last time I talked about these functions:

  • __()
  • _e()
  • _x()
  • _ex()
  • _n()

Let’s cover the ones I didn’t talk about.

Escaping output

In practice, you tend to use these mostly when outputting things onto the main page or in the admin. But, one thing you also use a lot when outputting text is the standard escaping functions. These are things like esc_html(), which outputs text in a way that makes it “safe” to go onto a webpage, without being interpreted as HTML. If the text comes from user input, then this is a good idea.

Now, if you think about it, then the text you have may be translated in some other file, which you don’t control either. So escaping that text might be a good idea too. If somebody snuck bad code into a translation file, a user might get bad things displayed without being able to easily find it.

So you could write something like echo esc_html(__('text','text-domain')), but that’s a bit wordy. Let’s talk about some shortcuts.

The esc_html__() function is the equivalent of esc_html(__(...)). It does the escaped html and the double-underscore translation all in one go. Similarly, the esc_html_e() function does the same thing, but it echoes the result, just like the _e() function would. And there’s also esc_html_x(), which is the equivalent of combining esc_html() and _x().

Along with those three are the three identical equivalents for attributes: esc_attr__(), esc_attr_e(), and esc_attr_x(). As the name implies, these combine the translation functions with esc_attr(), which is the escape function specifically intended when you’re outputting text into html attributes.

Also note there’s no shortcut for the equivalent of _ex(). It’s just not used that much, or at least not enough to need something special for it. Use an echo esc_html_x() instead.

There are no shortcuts for the other escaping functions as yet, but these can save a few keystrokes and make your code that much more readable.

The Numerical No-op

So we’ve got some shortcuts for escaping with those three functions, but where’s the love for _n()?

One of the problems with _n() is that it tends to require the strings to be in the same place that the PHP variable is. For all the other functions, you could have a big file of strings in an array, and then reference those strings by name or something elsewhere because they don’t require any PHP variables. Nothing about them is computed at the time of the output.

But not so with _n(), that $number to decide which string to use means that the strings have to be right there, they can’t be translated separately and referenced.

This is where _n_noop() comes in. The _n_noop() function basically takes the singular and plural strings for something, along with the text domain, and stores them in an array so that they can be referenced later by a function named translate_nooped_plural().

Perhaps an example is in order. Let’s go back to the tacos:

$string = sprintf( _n('You have %d taco.', 'You have %d tacos.', $number, 'plugin-domain'), $number );

What if we wanted those strings somewhere else? Like in a big file with all of our strings. Here’s a way to separate the strings from the _n() call:

$taco_plural = _n_noop('You have %d taco.', 'You have %d tacos.', 'plugin-domain');
$string = sprintf( translate_nooped_plural( $taco_plural, $number) , $number );

Now, that $taco_plural can be defined anywhere. Note that it contains no references to PHP variables. It’s basically static and unchanging. This allows us to separate it, then reference it elsewhere for the actual translation. The translate_nooped_plural() function performs the same job as _n() does, choosing which string to use based on the $number of tacos. The sprintf then pushes the $number into the chosen string, replacing the %d with the number.

Thus, that lets us extract the translatable strings out and put them anywhere we choose.

Also of note: The _nx_noop() function is a cross between _n_noop() and _x(). It takes a context for the translators as the third argument, and the domain becomes the fourth argument. Useful if you need to explain to the translators the context surrounding the pluralization choice.

Numbers and Dates

The number_format_i18n() function is functionally equivalent to the PHP number_format function. It lets you format numbers with commas at the thousands mark and so forth, except that it also takes localization into account. Not everybody uses commas for thousands and periods for decimals. This function will do the translation appropriately for that aspect.

The date_i18n() function is functionally equivalent to the PHP date function. It will handle all the same string formatting parameters as date() will, but it will cause output to be translated for month names, day-of-week names, and so forth. Of note is that it doesn’t change the format requested. If some places put days before months, for example, it won’t handle that. But it will output the month name in the native language (if the translation pack has the right month name in it). So you may want to run the date formatting string through __() as well, to let translators adjust the date format accordingly.

Wrap up

And that’s pretty much all the rest of the translation functions that I didn’t cover before. I may have forgotten a few useful ones here or there. Feel free to comment about anything I missed, or what you see most often, especially if you’re doing translations yourself.


My post about how to customize WordPress images with tricks like greyscale and such got me lots of feedback, so I figured I might as well turn it into a plugin.

The ImageFX plugin allows you to customize the image sizes from WordPress or custom ones for your theme, by applying filters to them.

The way it works is basically identical to my original post on the topic, only it allows the filters to be defined on a per-image-size level. It also allows the addition of a “slug” to be appended to the image filename, which is useful for cases where you want to have two images at the same size, but with different filters.

Since it was easy to do, I went ahead and created several other simple image filters that you can use for your images:

  • Greyscale (black and white)
  • Sepia tone (old-timey!)
  • Colorize with red, yellow, green, blue, or purple
  • Photonegative
  • Emboss
  • Brighten
  • Greyscale except red, green, or blue (classy!)

Here’s some examples. This a pic of me, Nacin, Rose, and Matt at WordCamp San Francisco. I ran it through the sepia, blue colorize, and grey-except-red filters.

These are some of the default filters included, but since I could, I went ahead and made it easily expandable too. All you have to do to define a filter is to create a function to do the image filtering you want, then call the imagefx_register_filter() function to add it.

To implement your own custom filter, you can do it like this:

function my_custom_filter(&$image) {
 // modify the $image here as you see fit

Note that the $image is passed by reference, so you don’t have to return it. This is because the $image resource takes up a lot of memory, so to save on memory usage, you are manipulating it in place, sort of thing.

You can use any of the image functions in PHP to change the image however you like. The filters I’ve implemented are mostly pretty simple. You can see them all in the filters.php file, in the plugin.

Caveats: The plugin will only filter JPG images, to avoid the overhead of recompressing PNGs and to avoid breaking animated GIF files. Also note that I haven’t tested these filters extensively. They’re only a starting point, sort of thing. I spent all of about 20 minutes writing them, so don’t expect miracles. :)

You can download version 0.1 of the plugin from the WordPress plugin directory:



First, WordPress plugin authors: Please don’t do this.

if ( isset($_GET['resource']) && !empty($_GET['resource']) ) {
	$resources = array(
		'icon1.png' => '... base 64 encoded code ...',
		'icon2.png' => '... base 64 encoded code ...',

	if ( array_key_exists($_GET['resource'], $resources) ) {
		$content = base64_decode($resources[ $_GET['resource'] ]);
                header('Content-Length: '.strlen($content));
                header('Content-Type: image/png');
            	echo $content;

I’ve seen a few different versions of this, and while the idea is nice, this is really the wrong way to go about it.

The idea is to include small icons or images in the plugin file itself, instead of as separate files. This sort of code then lets you reference them by calling a URL of ?resource=icon1.png or whatever. When that resource variable is detected, the plugin kicks in and serves up the image instead of the site.

Advantages to this sort of thing:

  • No need for extra icon files

Disadvantages to this sort of thing:

  • Now every http request to get an icon file on your admin page results in loading up the WordPress code, causing extra CPU usage.

Here’s a better way. It’s called the Data URI.

<img src="data:image/png;base64,iVBORw0KGgoAAAANSUhEUgAAAAUAAAAFCAYAAACNbyblAAAAHElEQVQI12P4//8/w38GIAXDIBKE0DHxgljNBAAO9TXL0Y4OHwAAAABJRU5ErkJggg==" alt="Red dot" />

Here’s that code in action, right here: Red dot

Why this is better:

  • Same benefits as before, no need for extra icon files
  • No extra CPU load from loading WordPress to get that icon file
  • No extra HTTP requests at all, in fact, since the data for the tiny icon is contained right there in the code


  • Doesn’t work in IE7. You can work around this by detecting IE7 and serving up the image separately, if you really want. Or you can just ignore it like most people do. Seriously. IE7 is insecure (link, link) and nobody should be using it, anywhere. WordPress itself will probably drop IE7 support in the admin in the next couple of versions.

So use Data URIs for small images (under 32KB in size). They’re fast and easy. They’re an idea whose time has come.


While looking at my backlinks today, I noticed a site in French had linked to my post about making photo galleries. He mentioned that the Google Translate wasn’t great. I took a look, and while I don’t know how good the text translation was, I did notice that Google strangely tried to translate the code as well, thus screwing it all up.

A quick search revealed that all one had to do was to add the “notranslate” class to any wrapping object to prevent its contents from being translated.

Now, I use the Syntax Highligher Evolved plugin to display code on my site (although I use an older version because I like the look and functionality of it better than the latest version). So I edited the plugin and found where it inserts the PRE tag, and added the notranslate class to it. And voila, now my code doesn’t get translated anymore.

Just a helpful tip for anybody who posts code on their sites.


Saw this post about Chrome voice searching in HTML forms on Google’s blog today. Very cool, so I had to give it a try. If you check the “Search” box in the upper right corner of the page, you’ll see a little icon (if you’re using a dev version of Chrome). Click it to do a search-by-voice.

What I didn’t expect was how totally easy it is to implement. Seriously, it’s less than a line of code.

Example. Say your search box (possibly in your theme’s searchform.php file) looks like this:

<form id="searchform" action="<?php bloginfo('home'); ?>/" method="get">
<input id="s" name="s" size="20" type="text" value="<?php _e('Search') ?>..." />

All you have to do is to add some bits to the input element box. Specifically, you add x-webkit-speech speech onwebkitspeechchange=”this.form.submit();”. That’s it. Seriously:

<form id="searchform" action="<?php bloginfo('home'); ?>/" method="get">
<input id="s" name="s" size="20" type="text" value="<?php _e('Search') ?>..." x-webkit-speech speech onwebkitspeechchange="this.form.submit();" />

Note that this won’t validate, if you care about that sort of thing. Works fine though.

You can do a whole lot more with Javascript and events and translations and multiple choices and such, if you’re thinking of developing something cool with it. I’m just shocked and amazed that this is already in my browser and I had no idea it was there. Very cool.


A while back, I wrote a post detailing why it was a bad idea to generate Javascripts using PHP in WordPress plugins. In that post, I mentioned a couple of better ways to do it.

At the time, I didn’t know about the third, and best way, to accomplish this. Mike’s comment over there reminded me of it. WordPress has it built in.

If you already know about wp_localize_script, you can stop reading now.

The wp_localize_script function was made in order to allow for WordPress translations to be able to also translate some of the JS files inside WordPress. Thus the name “localize”. The way it works is to load up the translated versions of text from the translation files and then include them into the resulting HTML output as a Javascript object. The scripts then use that object to produce any text output they need to produce.

Turns out that’s really similar to our goal of sending arbitrary parameters from WordPress to be used by Javascript code.

How to do it:

1. Make your script static (instead of generated) and enqueue your script as per normal. Example:


No real changes there. You’ll have to come back and modify your script to use these parameters it’s getting passed, but we’ll get to that in a minute.

2. Build an array of your parameters that you want to send to the script.

$params = array(
  'foo' => 'bar',
  'setting' => 123,

Note that my parameters are simple examples, but this is PHP code. You can get your parameters however you like. Such as get_option to pull them from the database, perhaps.

3. Call wp_localize_script and give your parameters a unique name.

wp_localize_script( 'my-script', 'MyScriptParams', $params );

What this will do is make WordPress output an inline script with your parameters (properly encoded) just before the enqueue outputs the script tag that loads your script in the first place. So then those parameters will be available to your script as an instance of an object with “MyScriptParams” (from my example).

This means that Javascript code can now reference them as attributes of the name you gave.

So, step 4. Modify your script to use those parameters. In my example, I used “MyScriptParams” and the parameter names are “foo” and “setting”. In my Javascript code I can use them as “” and “MyScriptParams.setting”.

Much cleaner. One static and unchanging JS file to cache. Parameters get put into your HTML itself as a one-liner. You can deal with the parameters using a normal PHP array before passing them over. No need to screw around with generating Javascript from PHP or looking for wp-load or even messing with tricky actions.