Monday, March 8, 2010

Creating a custom sign-up form using PHP

EKP provides a built-in sign-up (self-registration) function for new users. However, there are situations in which you might want to provide a custom sign-up form, particularly if users are accessing EKP's functionality via a portal.

  • A custom sign-up form provides you with complete control of the “look and feel” of your sign-up page.
  • A custom sign-up form enables you to control what happens at the end of the sign-up process. For example, instead of directing users to a standard EKP start page, you can direct them to a page within a learning portal.

This post outlines how you might go about creating a custom sign-up page using PHP.

The first step is to create the sign-up form itself. This might reside in a file named signup.php for example.

<form action="handlesignup.php" method="POST">
    User ID: <input name="userid" type="text" maxlength="85">
    Password: <input name="password" type="password">
    Family Name: <input name="familyname" type="text" maxlength="85">
    Given Name: <input name="givenname" type="text" maxlength="85">
    <input type="submit" value="Sign Up">

When user submits this form, the browser will send an HTTP POST request to another PHP script named handlesignup.php. The example below shows what the code in this file might look like.


// defines $ekp_base, $auth_key
require 'config.php';

// Grab the parameters from the request
$user_id = $_POST['userid'];
$password = $_POST['password'];
$family_name = $_POST['familyname'];
$given_name = $_POST['givenname'];
// Other fields as needed...

// Format as CSV for the contentHandler/usersCsv API function
// CSV data consists of two lines: one for headers, and one for data
// Full list of permitted fields is same as for User Data Loader
// Note that almost all fields are optional
$data = '"Action","UserID","Password","FamilyName","GivenName"' . "\r\n"
      . '"A","' . $user_id . '","' . $password . '","' . $family_name . '","'
      . $given_name . '"';

// Use cURL to POST the CSV data to EKP
// Note that the profile parameter is optional
$ch = curl_init($ekp_base . 'contentHandler/usersCsv?profile=signupprofile');
curl_setopt($ch, CURLOPT_POST, TRUE);
curl_setopt($ch, CURLOPT_HTTPHEADER, array("Content-Type: text/csv"));

// Although EKP ignores the user name, a non-empty value must be used
// otherwise cURL will not include the authentication header
$user_name = "dummy";
curl_setopt($ch, CURLOPT_USERPWD, $user_name . ":" . $auth_key);

curl_setopt($ch, CURLOPT_POSTFIELDS, $data);
$result = curl_exec($ch);


// Now show a confirmation page to the user, or redirect him or her to an
// appropriate page.


        <title>Sign-Up Completed</title>
        <h1>Thanks for signing up!</h1>

Known issues

  • The code above does not attempt to escape the double quotation mark character ("), which has a special meaning in CSV, when it occurs in field values. In order to guard against possible data-injection attacks, the code should really replace each occurrence of this character with two instances of the character.
  • The code does not perform any validation of the input. A more robust example would validate the user input before calling the API function.
  • As a special case of the above, it is common on sign-up forms to ask the user to re-type his or her password, since a mistyped password might prevent the user from accessing his or her account. The example code shown here does not do this.

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