• Feb
  • 19

Nice looking affiliate URLs directly from your blog

Here's another quick tips for the 'Custom slug, custom page' plugin. Do you have any affiliate offers on your blog? Want a quick way to mask the ugly affiliate URLs?

Stage 1

Install the Custom Page plugin. You can download it from this page: http://aciddrop.com/2008/02/16/wordpress-plugin-custom-page-slugs-with-custom-content/

Stage 2

Once you've installed the plugin, go to Options | Custom Page | New Page.

  • For the slug, enter the URL you would like your visitors to see
  • For the content enter this code:
    header( "HTTP/1.1 301 Moved Permanently" );
    header( "Location:http://www.affiliateurl.com?trackingid=78236374637");

    Enter your own Affiliate URL in place of my example above.

Click submit!

That's it.


Here, try this lovely link: http://aciddrop.com/free-remote-pc-access

Advanced tip

You can easily include some tracking to store a record of how many times the link was clicked, the page it was clicked on, the browser, the user's I.P etc. Just create a database table in your Wordpress DB to include the relevant info, then insert it into the database before the redirect.

More cunning plans

I've got a few more cunning uses of the plugin to come, so make sure you subscribe to my feed to stay up-to-date!

Posted by admin in php, tutorials, wordpress
1 comment so far
  • Feb
  • 18

Instantly boost your blog’s visibility with cross-promotion

Do you have more than one website? Or a friend with a website? Wouldn't it be great to easily be able to promote your Wordpress blog on those other sites? Maybe you'd like to:

  • Display an up-to-the-minute listing of your latest posts?
  • Or show a listing of your most popular or most commented posts?
  • Maybe show some live stats from your Wordpress blog on another of your sites?
  • Or, what about displaying some of your Wordpress site's ads on your non-Wordpress website?

How can we easily achieve this:

Cross promote Wordpress blog

Stage 1 - install the Custom Page plugin

First you should download and install my 'Custom Slug, Custom Page' plugin from this page:

The plugin allows you to create a page with a custom slug, with whatever content you like and - importantly - with full access to the Wordpress functions and plugin architecture.

Stage 2 - create a Custom page with the content to promote

Let's make a custom page that displays a list of the 3 most recent posts on my blog. So, once you've installed the plugin, click on Options, then Custom Page, then New Page:

For the slug, let's enter "recent-posts":

Now, for the content. First let's enter some code to create the recent posts lists. If you're not a coder, don't worry, just paste this in (you can't damage anything). Include the starting <? and final ?>.

Plugin Name: Recent Posts
Plugin URI: http://mtdewvirus.com/code/wordpress-plugins/

function mdv_recent_posts($no_posts = 3, $before = '<li>', $after = '</li>', $hide_pass_post = true, $skip_posts = 0, $show_excerpts = false) {
global $wpdb;
$time_difference = get_settings('gmt_offset');
$now = gmdate("Y-m-d H:i:s",time());
$request = "SELECT ID, post_title, post_excerpt FROM $wpdb->posts WHERE post_status = 'publish' ";
if($hide_pass_post) $request .= "AND post_password ='' ";
$request .= "AND post_date_gmt <'$now' ORDER BY post_date DESC LIMIT $skip_posts, $no_posts";
$posts = $wpdb->get_results($request);
$output = '';
if($posts) {
foreach ($posts as $post) {
$post_title = stripslashes($post->post_title);
$permalink = get_permalink($post->ID);
$output .= $before . '<a href="' . $permalink . '" rel="nofollow" target="_blank" title="Permanent Link: ' . htmlspecialchars($post_title, ENT_COMPAT) . '">' . htmlspecialchars($post_title) . '</a>';
if($show_excerpts) {
$post_excerpt = stripslashes($post->post_excerpt);
$output.= '<br />' . $post_excerpt;
$output .= $after;
} else {
$output .= $before . "None found" . $after;
return $output;

Thanks to http://mtdewvirus.com/code/wordpress-plugins/ for the code. OK, so now all we need is the HTML for the document, and some CSS to style our bulleted list. (Just paste this into the content box, below the code you've just pasted in)

<!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD XHTML 1.0 Transitional//EN" "http://www.w3.org/TR/xhtml1/DTD/xhtml1-transitional.dtd">
<html xmlns="http://www.w3.org/1999/xhtml">
<meta http-equiv="Content-Type" content="text/html; charset=iso-8859-1" />
<style type="text/css">
body {

div#container_drp h4 {
margin:3px 0 3px 0;

div#container_drp ul {
margin: 10px 0 10px 0px;
border:1px solid #ccc;

div#container_drp li  {
padding-left: 15px;
background-position:0px 1px;

div#container_drp {
border:1px solid #ccc;

You can change these styles as you see fit, or just leave it as it is. You should change the image for the bullet to one of your own. Finally we, just need to add the body of the document, and to close the HTML tags:

<div id='container_drp'>
<h4>What's new on <a href='<? echo get_bloginfo('url'); ?>' target=_blank><? echo get_bloginfo('name'); ?>?</a></h4>
<? echo mdv_recent_posts() ?>

Submit the page, and then click on Manage. Your new page should be available to manage, and you will see a link to it. It will be like this: http://aciddrop.com/recent-posts (but with your domain instead of aciddrop.com). Click the link to view the page. You should get something like this:

Your new custom page

Ok, great. Now what?

The final stage is to get this page to display on your other blog or site. The easiest way to do this is through an iframe. This is an HTML tag that you can use to display a page within another page. So, let say we want to display the info an other Wordpress blog, in the sidebar.

Open up sidebar.php of the theme you use (or whichever file displays the sidebar), and paste in this code where you would like the info to be displayed:

<iframe src="http://aciddrop.com/recent-posts" width="156" height="250" scrolling="no" frameborder="0" allowtransparency="true" background-color="transparent"></iframe>

Of course, you should change aciddrop.com to your own domain. You may need to adjust the width and height depending on the info that you are displaying. That's it!


Just have a look in the right hand bar of this site, and you will see I'm using this technique to display recent posts from both this blog, and another one.

Other uses

The technique isn't restricted to just displaying recent posts. Any time you would like to easily display info from your blog on another site you can use it. Please let me know if you come up with some other ingenious uses.

As usual, please let me know of any bugs/feedback/comments.

Want to hear of other ingenious uses for the plugin? Or be the first to try out my upcoming PHP Speedy Wordpress plugin? Then subscribe to my feed!

Posted by admin in php, tutorials, wordpress
  • Feb
  • 16

Wordpress Plugin: custom page slugs with custom content

Custom Slug Custom Page

I'm still working hard on the Wordpress Plugin for PHP Speedy, but have taken a moment out to write a plugin for Jon Warass of http://www.jonwaraas.com. He needed to be able to display ads from the OIOPublisher system across his non-Wordpress sites. But OIOPublisher is Wordpress only, leaving him with a problem: how to port the publisher system to his other sites?

The solution we came up with was to create a plugin for Wordpress to allow the user to:

  • Create a custom page slug
  • Fill that page with whatever content they wish, including PHP, with full access to the Wordpress and Plugin architecture.

All we then had to do was create a custom page, and fill it with the OIOPublisher ads, directly using the OIO code. These custom pages could then be included via iframe on his other sites.

Jon has generously agreed to make this plugin available to everyone on a GPL licence.


You can download it here: Custom Pub Page Plugin; custom slugs with custom content

Install instructions

  • Install the plugin in your Wordpress install
  • You should have a new option in "Options" called "Custom Page", click it
  • Click "New Page" in the sub menu enter the slug you want for the page (the url), and the content.
  • Click submit, and then the new page should be available in the Manage sub-menu, together with the link to the page
  • You can create as many custom pages as you like


Here is a demo, running the code below: http://aciddrop.com/custom-slug-this-is-one-great-slug

hello this is a test
echo "Want to see my archives?<br>";

As usual, hit me with bugs/feedback/suggestions etc!

Posted by admin in php, wordpress
  • Feb
  • 04

PHP Speedy updated - now works with Joomla and Drupal

I have made some more improvements to PHP Speedy - many thanks to everyone who gave me feedback. The improvements are:

  • Added in compress method for direct content compression
  • Made the gzipping functions more robust
  • Added in check for query string in file paths
  • Changed name of view class to avoid conflicts

Due to popular demand I have also tested it with Drupal and Joomla, and have instructions on how to get it working with both.


  • Edit index.php in the root Drupal folder
  • Include the PHP Speedy code at the top of the page as normal
  • At the bottom of the page change print theme('page', $return); to
    print $compressor->compress(theme('page', $return));

I'm not a Drupal user so have only tested on a basic installation - please let me know if this doesn't work for you (preferably with a solution!)


  • Again, edit index.php in the root Joomla folder
  • Include the PHP Speedy code AFTER the first two includes made by Joomla. So it would look something like this:
    require( 'globals.php' );
    require_once( 'configuration.php' );

  • At the very bottom of the page add $compressor->finish();

Again, I must add the disclaimer that I've only tested this with a basic installation so any problems please let me know.

You can download the lastest version of PHP Speedy at the dedicated page: PHP Speedy

Don't forget to subscribe to my feed to stay up-to-date.

Posted by admin in php
  • Feb
  • 01

Speeding up your website just became easier

UPDATE: New version available: 0.4.6

New to aciddrop.com? Go directly to the PHP Speedy page for a beginners' guide

PHP Speedy

Introducing... PHP Speedy!

Following all the feedback on the site speed boost script, I have fixed all the bugs, added the features that were requested and come up with a name. It was confusing calling it alternately "site speed boost script", "compressor", "aciddrop compress" etc, so I decided to come up with a new moniker. And then waste a few hours designing a logo, of course ;-) (and it's supposed to be flames, not a sea creature).

So, PHP Speedy now boasts:

  • An installer. Lots of people were having problems with the paths, so we now have an installer that*should* take care of everything very easily. If you need to change anything you can either just re-run the installer, or change the config.php file directly.
  • Full support for relative image paths in your CSS, in multiple CSS files. Image paths in CSS are now converted to absolute paths, so you no longer have to worry about where to cache the CSS.
  • Added support for different rel types. (rel="alternative" and rel="stylesheet" are cached separately)
  • Added support for conditional comments in the HEAD tags (this also fixed the problem of commented out stylesheets)

There are still some requirements:

  • You must specify the type when you include your CSS or JavaScript i.e type=text/css
  • Your site can't use ob_end_clean(); or anything that retrieves the buffer in its code. This rules out Joomla, for example.
  • You need to put the CSS and JS in the between the <head> and </head> parts of your page.
  • If your JavaScript dynamically loads other JavaScripts they won't be cached. You should link to each individual script in your <head> tags.

In order to install PHP Speedy you should:

  • Download and unzip the PHP Speedy package into its own directory
  • Point your browser to the PHP Speedy directory
  • Follow the installation instructions

For those of you who are upgrading, just create a new directory for PHP Speedy and install it there. At the end of the install you will be given the new code to include the PHP Speedy file.

Please let me know how you get on, and report and bugs or problems via the comment form.


You can download PHP Speedy from this link: PHP Speedy 0.4.6 download

Tests and examples

Check out the new PHP Speedy dedicated page

Stay up-to-date

I have some more killer features planned for PHP Speedy, and also a Wordpress plugin version, so make sure you subscribe to my RSS feed to stay up-to-date.

Posted by admin in php
  • Jan
  • 23

Site speed boost script updated

Version 0.4 is now available. It now features:

  • An installer.Lots of people were having problems with the paths, so we now have an installer that*should* take care of everything very easily. If you need to change anything you can either just re-run the installer, or change the config.php file directly.
  • Full support for relative image paths in your CSS, in multiple CSS files. Image paths in CSS are now converted to absolute paths, so you no longer have to worry about where to cache the CSS.
  • Added support for different rel types. (rel=”alternative” and rel=”stylesheet” are cached separately)
  • Added support for conditional comments in the HEAD tags (this also fixed the problem of commented out stylesheets)

It's available from this page: PHP Speedy


Version 0.3 is now available.

  • Added check for gzip compression compatibilty.
  • Added check for external javascript files
  • Fixed bug in head grab function

It's available for download here: aciddrop website speedup v0.3

You can see the new demo online here:

Many thanks to those who contributed with bugs and fixes.


Version 0.2 Info

Following feedback on the compression class (thanks to all who commented), version 0.2 is now available.

Changes include:

  • Added support for different CSS media types
  • Fixed bug in relative file paths.
  • Improved file cleanup function
  • Changed file versioning to by date instead of by file size
  • Added check for trailing slash on cachedir

You can see the new demo online here:

In testing this new version I found a couple of gotchas:

  • Don't use it at the same time as my Smarty output class that joins the CSS and Javascript. Apache will get confused.
  • Don't comment out any stylesheets in your HTML if they're not in use. The class can't recognise that (yet!).

Also, for those wondering if it works with Wordpress, I changed the code of this Wordpress theme to use the new class.

Posted by admin in php, tutorials
  • Jan
  • 21

Improve website load time by 500% with 3 lines of code

Major New Update - PHP SPEEDY: latest version available here

PHP Speedy

There are 4 relatively easy ways by which you can speed up the time it takes a browser to download a page:

  • Make fewer HTTP requests
  • Add a far-future expires header
  • Gzip your page's components
  • Minify your JavaScript, CSS and HTML

Following on from my post on joining CSS and JavaScript files, I have written a PHP script which will automatically do all of the above. All you have to do is call the following at the top of your page:

The code

require_once('class.compressor.php'); //Include the class. The full path may be required
$compressor = new compressor('css,javascript,page');

And the following at the bottom of the page:


The Demo

That's it! Before I go into the details, the impatient amongst you can check out the test pages here:

The class can be downloaded here: site speed boost class download


  • A server running at least PHP4. For JavaScript minification to work as well, PHP5+ is required.
  • You should set the folder where you are running the class from as writable

Setting basic options

Options can be set with a comma separated string as follows:

$compressor = new compressor('css,javascript,page');

The string can contain 'css', 'javascript' and 'page' depending on which elements you would like to be compressed. Any element contained in the string will be gzip encoded and minified.

Setting advanced options

Alternatively, an array can be passed to the class constructor with an advanced set of options. This array would set all the compression options to on:

$compressor = new compressor(array("javascript"=>array("cachedir"=>'/minify',

You can change this array to add or remove all the available options.

Note that "cachedir" should not include a trailing slash. If your CSS files contain relative links for background images, you should set the CSS cachedir to the same directory the standard CSS files are stored in.

Speed gains

On my test page the load time with the compressor turned on was generally below second, and without the compressor between 3-5 seconds. The Yahoo Yslow rating went from F(45) to A(97).

Test page with Firebug, before compression

Firebug before compression

Test page with Firebug, after compression

Firebug before compression

Test page with Yslow, before compression

Firebug before compression

Test page with Yslow, after compression

Firebug before compression


Please see the updated page


The JavaScript minification uses jsmin-php.


If you liked this tutorial, please subscribe to my RSS feed for more of the same.

Posted by admin in php, tutorials
comments closed
  • Jan
  • 10

Step-by-step: how to setup MySQL Database replication

This tutorial will go through the setup of MySQL database replication. I will also talk about how to get everything working smoothly again after a server crash, or if you wish to switch databases. I will try to explain what is going on behind the scenes for every step (something I've found missing from other tutorials). This is written specifically for MySQL 5.0 on Centos 4, but should be very similar on other Linux distributions. It should also work this way with MySQL 4.x.

The theory

We have 2 servers, one of which is a Master and the other which is a Slave. We tell the Master that it should keep a log of every action performed on it. We tell the slave server that it should look at this log on the Master and whenever something new happens, it should do the same thing.

You should follow the instructions below with two console windows open - one for the Master and one for the Slave. Also note that I will capitalise the first letters of Master and Slave to indicate I am talking about the servers.

Configuring the Master

First of all, we need to create a user on the Master server that the Slave will connect as. I call mine 'slave_user'. Log into mysql as root and create the user:

mysql -u root -p (log into MySQL)

GRANT REPLICATION SLAVE ON *.* TO 'slave_user'@'%' IDENTIFIED BY 'your_password';

Now, we should edit the my.cnf file (usually in /etc/my.cnf), in the [mysqld] section and tell MySQL that it's going to be a Master:

log-bin = /home/mysql/logs/mysql-bin.log

The first line tells MySQL to start writing a log, and tells it where to write the log. Make sure this directory is empty of all replication logs, especially if you're starting again after replication has already been used.

The second line chooses the database to write the log for. You should change this to your database. The third line gives the server an ID (to distinguish it from the Slave).

You should also make sure skip-networking has not been enabled.

You should now restart the Master:

/etc/rc.d/init.d/mysqld restart

(MySQL restart commands may vary)

Configuring the Slave

Again, we should change the /etc/my.cnf of the Slave server, in the [mysqld] section:


relay-log = /var/lib/mysql/slave-relay.log
relay-log-index = /var/lib/mysql/slave-relay-log.index

Line 1 gives the Slave its unique ID. Line 2, tells the Slave the I.P address of the Master server - so you need to change the I.P here.

The remaining lines set a retry limit, and tell the Slave the user, password and database it needs to replicate. We also tell the slave what to use as its relay log. It's best to set this directly, or MySQL will create the name from the hostname and should you change hostname, replication will fail.

You should also make sure skip-networking has not been enabled.

You should now restart the Slave:

/etc/rc.d/init.d/mysqld restart

Getting the data onto the Slave

On the Master...

I'm assuming you have a live Master server, and an as yet empty Slave server. This stage depends on whether data is constantly being added to the Master. If so, we will have to prevent all database access on the Master so nothing can be added. This means your server will hang during the next step. If no data is being added to the server, you can skip this step. On the Master server, log into MySQL and do the following:

mysql -u root -p (log into MySQL)


Now we will use mysqldump to get the data out. So, still on the Master server:

mysqldump my_database -u root -p > /home/my_home_dir/database.sql;
gzip /home/my_home_dir/database.sql;

Make sure you change my_database to your database name, and my_home_dir to the name of your home directory (or another directory of your choosing). You wll now have a file called database.sql.gz in your home directory. This is a gziped copy of your database.

On the Slave...

Now we need to copy over the gzipped file. On the Slave run the following:

scp root@ /home/my_home_dir/

Make sure is the I.P of the Master. This will copy the file from the Master and put it in your home directory on the Slave. Now we just need to import into MySQL:

mysql -u root -p (log into MySQL)

CREATE DATABASE `my_database`;

gunzip /home/my_home_dir/database.sql.gz
mysql -u root -p my_database  </home/my_home_dir/database.sql

Ready to rumble...

On the Master...

Now we're ready to kick things off. We need to find the position the Master is at in the logs. So, log into MySQL and run the following:

mysql -u root -p (log into MySQL)


This should give you an output along these lines:

| File                | Position | Binlog_Do_DB                  | Binlog_Ignore_DB |
| mysql-bin.000001    | 21197930 | my_database,my_database       |                  |

Keep that on-screen.

On the Slave...

Log into MySQL and do the following:

mysql -u root -p (log into MySQL)

slave stop;
CHANGE MASTER TO MASTER_HOST='', MASTER_USER='slave_user', MASTER_PASSWORD='slave_password', MASTER_LOG_FILE='mysql-bin.000001', MASTER_LOG_POS=21197930;
slave start;

First we stop the Slave. Then we tell it exactly where to look in the Master log file. We use the values for our previous SHOW MASTER STATUS; command on the Master. You should change to the I.P of the Master, and change the user and password accordingly.

The Slave will now be waiting. So all that's left is to...

Back on the Master...

We shoud already be logged into MySQL, so all you have to do is:

unlock tables;

To release the tables from lock. Note you only have to do this if you previously ran FLUSH TABLES WITH READ LOCK;

And the recovery part?

Several times it's happened to me that a server has crashed, or a hostname changed or whatever, and I've had a real trouble getting replication to work again. The solution has been to clear out the logs.

On the Slave

Clear out any replication logs from /var/lib/mysql or whever the logs are being stored, as stated in my.cnf. This usually does the trick:

rm *relay*
rm master.info

On the Master

Again, get rid of the logs, as per where they are stored in my.cnf. For me it's the following:

cd /home/mysql/logs/
rm -f *

This should give you a fresh start on things. You can now start again from the beginning...

Final Notes

My database doesn't use InnoDB tables - it's all MyISAM. However, the MySQL manual recommends adding this to my.cnf for InnoDB databases:


See here for more info: http://dev.mysql.com/doc/refman/5.1/en/replication-howto-masterbaseconfig.html


Thanks to the following for their help:

Posted by admin in mysql, tutorials
  • Jan
  • 03

Automatically join Javascript and CSS into a single file

Update: A script is now available to do this, and much more, here: site speed boost script. This script doesn't rely on Smarty.

One of the keys to getting your pages to load quicker is to make fewer HTTP requests. So, for example, if you have 6 javascript files it would be much quicker for you to join all the JavaScript together into one file and serve that instead. However, doing this manually is a pain. Even using a tool to join them together can be a pain. Far easier would be to set up a PHP script to automatically do it for you.


This plugin can automatically turn this:

<script src="/app/resources/js/scriptaculous-js-1.8.0/lib/prototype.js" type="text/javascript"></script>
<script src="/app/resources/js/scriptaculous-js-1.8.0/src/builder.js" type="text/javascript"></script>
<script src="/app/resources/js/scriptaculous-js-1.8.0/src/effects.js" type="text/javascript"></script>
<script src="/app/resources/js/scriptaculous-js-1.8.0/src/dragdrop.js" type="text/javascript"></script>
<script src="/app/resources/js/fastinit/fastinit.js" type="text/javascript"></script>
<script src="/app/resources/js/controllers/controller.sitewide.popup.js" type="text/javascript"></script>
<script src="/app/resources/js/beyond_the_dom/beyond_the_dom.js" type="text/javascript"></script>
<script src="/app/resources/js/newsticker/newsticker.js" type="text/javascript"></script>
<script src="/app/resources/js/image_swapper/image_swapper.js" type="text/javascript"></script>
<script src="/app/resources/js/NiftyCube/niftycube.js" type="text/javascript"></script>
<script src="/app/resources/js/validation/validation.js" type="text/javascript"></script>
<script src="/app/resources/js/flash_detect/flash_detect.js" type="text/javascript"></script>
<script src="/app/resources/js/swfobject/swfobject.js" type="text/javascript"></script>

into this:

<script type="text/javascript" src="/app/resources/cache/03e8cd4518c686feb8e18fa1eb329abb.js"></script>


This script is an output filter for Smarty, a template engine for PHP. If you don't already use Smarty, the script can be adapted and used with PHP's output buffer functions. If you do use Smarty, setting this up with be a breeze.

Installing the Plugins

You should call


from within your application. Then just drop the plugin files into your Smarty plugins directory. Make sure you specify a "cachedir" in the plugins. This is the directory where the joined files will be stored. It should be writeable by the server.

Joining Javascript

Your JavaScript links should contain src and type tags. For example:

<script src="/wp-content/themes/leon/libs/scriptaculous-js-1.8.0/lib/prototype.js" type="text/javascript"></script>
<script src="/wp-content/themes/leon/libs/nifty_corners/nifty.js" type="text/javascript"></script>

This is the only requirement for the HTML of your page.

The script will take the JS within the files, join it together, and create a new file. The new file will be saved in the directory you specify, and a new link to it created.

Joining CSS

Your JavaScript links should contain href and type tags. For example:

<link href="/wp-content/themes/leon/libs/nifty_corners/niftyCorners.css" type="text/css" rel="stylesheet" />

Again, the script will automatically join together all files with the text/css type tag.

Note that when you make a change to your original CSS or JavaScript files, you will have to delete the cached file.


You can download the plugin files here: http://aciddrop.com/aciddrop/aciddrop_output_filters.zip


I use this technique on a number of sites, including this one. Check out the source of pitch-invasion.com, simplifydiy.com and purrl.net for examples.

Posted by admin in php, tutorials
  • Dec
  • 17

Quick, easy and free nearest store postcode/ZIP finder

This tutorial will describe step-by-step how to create a store locator for your website. It works for post codes in any country, and if you're UK based that means you won't have to pay hundreds to the Post Office for the data.

If you want to just straight to the demo it's online here: Easy Store Finder Demo. To see a live example go to http://www.pitch-invasion.com and enter a UK postcode (or address) into the "Your nearest league" box in the right bar, or check out this search for a plumber in central London from simplifydiy.com

Step 1 – Preparing the data

You will need to have the data for your stores in a database. For each store, you will have to know the postcode. This should be stored in a "postcode" field. You should also create fields for "lat" and "lng". Note that the longitude is stored as "lng" as "long" is a reserved word in MySQL. Optionally, you can include a field for the domain of the address. This allows for easy lookups for multiple countries - as you can see below we have addresses from around the world.

Here is an example table, in MySQL format.

CREATE DATABASE `postcode_finder` ;

`address` TEXT NOT NULL,
`postcode` VARCHAR(10) NOT NULL DEFAULT '',

INSERT INTO `store` (`name` , `address` , `postcode`, `domain`)
'Waterloo Station', 'Lambeth, London', 'SE1', 'co.uk'
), (
'Gatwick Airport ', 'South Terminal, Gatwick', 'RH6', 'co.uk'
), (
'Edinburgh Waverley Railway Station ', 'Network Rail, Room 255, North Block, Edinburgh', 'EH1 1BB', 'co.uk'
), (
'Beverly Hills', 'California', '90210', 'com'
), (
'Penn Station ', '17 W 32nd St New York', '10001', 'com'
), (
'Sagrada Familia', 'Barcelona', '08013', 'es'
), (
'FC Bayern Munchen', 'Sabener Str. 51, Munchen, Germany ', '81547', 'de'

Step 2 – Inserting the latitudes and longitudes

For each of the stores in your database you need to know the latitude and longitude. You can find this out from Google Maps very easily. They have a Geocoding service which will return the latitude and longitude for any address. So all we need to do is loop through our database and update each store with the lat and long.

Note that the API key below (the part after key=) is the key for aciddrop.com. You should get your own key here: http://code.google.com/apis/maps/signup.html

* Update lat lngs

function update_lat_lngs() {

//Get the list of stores
$query = "SELECT * FROM store";
$stores = $this->db->executeQuery($query);
$stores = $stores['result'];

//Run through stores and get lat / lng
foreach($stores AS $store) {

$latlng = $this->get_lat_long($store['postcode'],$store['domain']);

//Update store with its lat lng



* Returns a lat / long of a given postcode

function get_lat_long($postcode,$domain=null) {

if(!$domain) {
$domain = "co.uk";

$url = "http://maps.google." . $domain . "/maps/geo?q=" . urlencode($postcode) . "&output=json&key=ABQIAAAAWjc0ZH2RENLxziofASg9ABQH987j_SlqISv1l93HS7ksPkvN9xRAXjKLSj-Yj2Xw7I6gP3RHQb4UQj";

$json = $this->curl->get_page(array("url"=>$url));

$store_data = json_decode(str_replace(""","\"",htmlentities($json))); //Take care of accents

$lng = $store_data->Placemark[0]->Point->coordinates[0];
$lat = $store_data->Placemark[0]->Point->coordinates[1];

if($lng && $lat) {

return array('lat'=>$lat,

} else {

return false;



The first function gets the list of stores form the database, and stores it in the array $stores. For each store postcode (and domain), we then run the function get_lat_long. This queries the Google maps geocoder, which returns a json string. This string is then decoded, and the lat and long taken from the resulting object. Finally, the stores table is updated with the lat and long for each store. Note that this uses curl and json_decode, which need to be installed on your server. There are alternatives, however.

The time that this takes will vary depending on how many stores you have. If you have hundreds the script will take a while to process. Also, the Google API restricts you to 15,000 queries a day so if you have more stores than this you may have to run it a few times on different days. Note that this will also be a problem if you have more than 15,000 lookups a day from your users.

Step 3 – Querying the stores database

Now that we have all our data set all we have to do is query our stores database with the latitude and longitude of the postcode that is our starting point. The query does the maths directly in MySQL so it's very quick – even for thousands of records. It uses the Haversine formula to take into account the curvature of the earth, so it's pretty accurate (certainly more so than other formulas which use Pythagoras).

Note that we also use a checkPostcode() function, which is UK specific. If the postcode entered is a UK postcode it will format it correctly. Thanks to John Gardner at http://www.braemoor.co.uk/software/postcodes.shtml for the code.

* Get a list of our stores, sorted by distance to this postcode

function get_stores_list($postcode) {

//If it's a UK postcode then format correctly
$postcode = $this->checkPostcode($postcode);

$latlng = $this->get_lat_long($postcode);

if(!$latlng) { //Unrecognised postcode
return false;

$latitude = $latlng['lat'];
$longitude = $latlng['lng'];
//    print_r($latlng);

$query = "SELECT *,
.$latitude."*pi()/180)) * sin((`lat`*pi()/180))
.$latitude."*pi()/180)) * cos((`lat`*pi()/180))
* cos((("
.$longitude."- `lng`)*pi()/180))))*180/pi())*60*1.1515)
as distance
FROM `store`
ORDER BY distance ASC
$stores = $this->db->executeQuery($query);
$stores = $stores['result'];

return $stores;


This will return a list of all the stores, sorted by distance. You can now display as you see fit. If you wish to limit the amount of stores returned, this can be done directly in the query.

So there you have it – a completely free store finder that will work for any international postcode.

The Demo

No tutorial is complete without a demo. You can see it online here: Easy Store Finder Demo. The source code for the demo is available here: Easy Store Finder Demo Source


Many thanks to the following sites for useful information in putting this tutorial together:

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