Simple Autocomplete With PHP MySQL (Free Download)

Welcome to a quick tutorial on how to create an autocomplete textbox with PHP and MySQL. Looking to add autocomplete features to a textbox? But it doesn’t make any sense to load an entire library and inflate the loading times. Well, here is a sharing of my autocomplete using only pure HTML and Javascript – It’s both simple and lightweight. Read on for the examples!

ⓘ I have included a zip file with all the source code at the start of this tutorial, so you don’t have to copy-paste everything… Or if you just want to dive straight in.

 

 

TABLE OF CONTENTS

 

DOWNLOAD & NOTES

Firstly, here is the download link to the example code as promised.

 

QUICK NOTES

  • Create a dummy database and import 1-users.sql.
  • Change the database settings in 2b-search.php and 3b-search.php to your own.
  • Access 2a-single.html or 3a-multiple.html in your browser – Use http:// and not file://.
If you spot a bug, feel free to comment below. I try to answer short questions too, but it is one person versus the entire world… If you need answers urgently, please check out my list of websites to get help with programming.

 

EXAMPLE CODE DOWNLOAD

Click here to download the source code in a zip file – I have released it under the MIT License, so feel free to build on top of it if you want to.

 

 

PHP MYSQL AUTOCOMPLETE

All right, let us now get into the autocomplete example with PHP and MySQL.

 

PART 1) DUMMY DATABASE

1-users.sql
CREATE TABLE `users` (
  `id` bigint(20) NOT NULL,
  `name` varchar(255) NOT NULL,
  `email` varchar(255) NOT NULL,
  `phone` varchar(24) NOT NULL
) ENGINE=InnoDB DEFAULT CHARSET=utf8mb4;

ALTER TABLE `users`
  ADD PRIMARY KEY (`id`),
  ADD UNIQUE KEY `email` (`email`),
  ADD KEY `name` (`name`);

ALTER TABLE `users`
  MODIFY `id` bigint(20) NOT NULL AUTO_INCREMENT;

This is the dummy database that we are working with, should be self-explanatory.

  • id User ID, primary key.
  • name User’s full name.
  • email The email.
  • phone Telephone number.

 

 

PART 2) AUTOCOMPLETE SINGLE FIELD

2A) HTML & JAVASCRIPT

2a-single.html
<!-- (A) AUTOCOMPLETE JS + CSS -->
<script src="autocomplete.js"></script>
<link rel="stylesheet" href="autocomplete.css">
 
<!-- (B) INPUT FIELD -->
<input type="text" id="dName">
 
<script>
// (C) ATTACH AUTOCOMPLETE TO INPUT FIELD
ac.attach({
  target: document.getElementById("dName"),
  data: "2b-search.php"
});
</script>

  1. Load the autocomplete Javascript and CSS. Doh. If you want the details, check out my other tutorial on the HTML Javascript autocomplete.
  2. The usual HTML input field.
  3. Lastly, call ac.attach() on page load to attach the autocomplete – Just specify the target input field and your data URL.

 

2B) PHP SEARCH

2b-search.php
<?php
// (A) CONNECT TO DATABASE - CHANGE TO YOUR OWN!
$dbhost = "localhost";
$dbname = "test";
$dbchar = "utf8mb4";
$dbuser = "root";
$dbpass = "";
$pdo = new PDO(
  "mysql:host=$dbhost;dbname=$dbname;charset=$dbchar",
  $dbuser, $dbpass, [
  PDO::ATTR_ERRMODE => PDO::ERRMODE_EXCEPTION,
  PDO::ATTR_DEFAULT_FETCH_MODE => PDO::FETCH_ASSOC
]);
 
// (B) DO SEARCH
$data = [];
$stmt = $pdo->prepare("SELECT `name` FROM `users` WHERE `name` LIKE ?");
$stmt->execute(["%".$_POST["search"]."%"]);
while ($r = $stmt->fetch()) { $data[] = $r["name"]; }
echo count($data)==0 ? "null" : json_encode($data) ;

Beginners, keep calm and look carefully. This script is actually super simple.

  1. Connect to the database. Just make sure that the PDO extension is enabled in your php.ini and change the settings to your own.
  2. The Javascript will post a $_POST["search"] over. All we need is to do a database search –  SELECT * FROM `table` WHERE `field` LIKE "%SEARCH%".

 

 

PART 3) AUTOCOMPLETE MULTIPLE FIELDS

3A) HTML & JAVASCRIPT

3a-multiple.html
<!-- (A) AUTOCOMPLETE JS + CSS -->
<script src="autocomplete.js"></script>
<link rel="stylesheet" href="autocomplete.css">
 
<!-- (B) AUTOCOMPLETE MULTIPLE FIELDS -->
<form id="myForm">
  <label for="dName">Name</label>
  <input type="text" id="dName">
  <label for="dEmail">Email</label>
  <input type="email" id="dEmail">
  <label for="dTel">Tel</label>
  <input type="text" id="dTel">
</form>
 
<script>
// (C) ATTACH AUTOCOMPLETE TO INPUT FIELD
ac.attach({
  target: document.getElementById("dName"),
  data: "3b-search.php"
});
</script>

So how about choosing a single suggestion to fill up multiple fields? It’s pretty much the same with the HTML and Javascript – Just define your HTML fields, and attach the autocomplete on page load.

 

3B) PHP SEARCH

3b-search.php
<?php
// (A) CONNECT TO DATABASE - CHANGE TO YOUR OWN!
$dbhost = "localhost";
$dbname = "test";
$dbchar = "utf8mb4";
$dbuser = "root";
$dbpass = "";
$pdo = new PDO(
  "mysql:host=$dbhost;dbname=$dbname;charset=$dbchar",
  $dbuser, $dbpass, [
  PDO::ATTR_ERRMODE => PDO::ERRMODE_EXCEPTION,
  PDO::ATTR_DEFAULT_FETCH_MODE => PDO::FETCH_ASSOC
]);
 
// (B) DO SEARCH
$data = [];
$stmt = $pdo->prepare("SELECT * FROM `users` WHERE `name` LIKE ?");
$stmt->execute(["%".$_POST["search"]."%"]);
while ($r = $stmt->fetch()) { $data[] = [
  "D" => $r["name"], "dEmail" => $r["email"], "dTel" => $r["phone"]
]; }
echo count($data)==0 ? "null" : json_encode($data) ;

Yep, it’s the same old connect to the database, then do a SELECT search. The only difference here is the response:

  • D is the value for the “main autocomplete field”. In this example, it is the user’s name.
  • Then, followed by as many FIELD-ID => VALUE as required. In this example, the email column will populate the dEmail field, and the phone column will fill up dTel.

 

 

EXTRA BITS & LINKS

That’s all for this guide, and here is a small section on some extras and links that may be useful to you.

 

INDEX FOR SEARCH PERFORMANCE

ALTER TABLE `users`
  ADD PRIMARY KEY (`id`),
  ADD UNIQUE KEY `email` (`email`),
  ADD KEY `name` (`name`);

Notice how we set the email and name columns in the dummy table as keys? This is one small suggestion for you guys who are new – Index and set the searchable fields as keys. Just what does “indexing” do? Imagine a library without a catalog system… Searching for a book will involve looking through every shelf and book in the library.

It works the same way in a database. If we don’t have indices, the database will have to look through each and every entry to find the ones that we want. While indexing does take up a little more disk space, it will also greatly speed up and improve search performance.

 

SEARCH SECURITY

2b-search.php
<?php
session_start();
if (!isset($_SESION["user"]) { exit(); }

Before the toxic troll things start to spit acid – The above example is only a simple example. In production systems, one would have added more security. For example, users need to log in for the autocomplete script to respond.

 

 

SEARCH MULTIPLE FIELDS & TABLES

Searching from multiple fields:

SELECT * 
FROM `users` 
WHERE `name` LIKE '%SEARCH%' 
OR `email` LIKE '%SEARCH'

Searching from multiple tables:

SELECT *
FROM `TABLE-A`
LEFT JOIN `TABLE-B`
ON `TABLE-A`.FIELD = TABLE-B.FIELD
WHERE `TABLE-A`.FIELD LIKE '%SEARCH%'
OR `TABLE-B`.FIELD LIKE '%SEARCH%'

Most importantly, master the use of SELECT and JOIN by yourself – Links below.

 

NON-ENGLISH LANGUAGES

Just a small note and reminder – If you are dealing with non-English languages, remember to add <meta charset="utf-8"> in the HTML <head>.

 

LINKS & REFERENCES

 

THE END

Thank you for reading, and we have come to the end of this short tutorial. I hope it has given you a kick start to your own project, and if you decide to use my vanilla auto-complete, please do remember to do your own CSS styles with it… It is really nothing but a skeleton.

If there is anything that you like to add to this guide, please feel free to comment below. Good luck and happy coding!

21 thoughts on “Simple Autocomplete With PHP MySQL (Free Download)”

  1. Sorry for the bother.
    Thank you for this big help.
    But I have a question now: How can I put a data (“id” for example) in hidden field on the while you’re writing a name…

    Thanks and have an happy new year!

    @}-,-‘—–
    Gianfranco

    1. that’s how it works

      $stmt = $pdo->prepare(‘SELECT * FROM clienti WHERE nominativo LIKE :term OR cell LIKE :term’);
      $stmt->execute([‘term’ => “%”.$_POST[“search”].”%”]);

    2. Yes, it works. 😆 To clear things up a little – That is an SQL query, not PHP. But I see that you have done your own homework on “how to do proper PDO binding”. Well done!

  2. Finally!
    This snippet worked by me, to define encoding not in link connection ($pdo), but after that in this way ($pdo->exec(“set names utf8”);):

    $pdo = new PDO(
    “mysql:host=$dbhost;dbname=$dbname”,
    $dbuser, $dbpass, [
    PDO::ATTR_ERRMODE => PDO::ERRMODE_EXCEPTION,
    PDO::ATTR_DEFAULT_FETCH_MODE => PDO::FETCH_ASSOC,
    ]);
    $pdo->exec(“set names utf8”);
    // (B) DO SEARCH
    $data = [];

    PHP version: 7.4.33 and 10.3.37-MariaDB here

      1. Thanks once more for the answer, I will try one more time (nevertheless i tried already dozens of times :)).
        Yes, “Pure HTML Javascript Autocomplete” works perfect, but this is another example.
        When you have to load from database Chinese or cirillyc names – not working (“Simple Autocomplete With PHP MySQL”). With English it works.
        I can send you somewhere private link of my tryouts for proof, if you want.
        Best regards! And sorry for bothering! 🙂

      2. Redownload the updated version and double-check – There are Chinese entries in the dummy database, and it works. I cannot provide further consultation otherwise – Good luck!

      3. I’ve already remaid it. Still problem.
        When I print the $data array extracted from mysql – it says:
        [{“D”:”Jazz Doe”,”dEmail”:”jazz@doe.com”,”dTel”:”56973317″},{“D”:”Jane Doe”,”dEmail”:”jane@doe.com”,”dTel”:”40378541″},{“D”:”Rusty Terry”,”dEmail”:”rusty@terry.com”,”dTel”:”34614899″},{“D”:”Peers Sera”,”dEmail”:”peers@sera.com”,”dTel”:”13014383″},{“D”:”Jaslyn Keely”,”dEmail”:”jaslyn@keely.com”,”dTel”:”52154191″},{“D”:”Richard Breann”,”dEmail”:”richard@breann.com”,”dTel”:”58765281″},{“D”:”????”,”dEmail”:”zhuge@thad.com”,”dTel”:”11753471″},{“D”:”Tillie Sharalyn”,”dEmail”:”tillie@sharalyn.com”,”dTel”:”33989432″},{“D”:”???”,”dEmail”:”akow@adelaide.com”,”dTel”:”56539890″}…
        So Chinese is in ??? that’s why it’s doesn’t work. Same with other non-english.
        When I find solution I will write…

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