PHP Example - AJAX and XML

AJAX can be used for interactive communication with an XML file.

AJAX XML Example

The following example will demonstrate how a web page can fetch information from an XML file with AJAX:


CD info will be listed here...

Example Explained - The HTML Page

When a user selects a CD in the dropdown list above, a function called "showCD()" is executed. The function is triggered by the "onchange" event:

function showCD(str) {
  if (str=="") {
  if (window.XMLHttpRequest) {
    // code for IE7+, Firefox, Chrome, Opera, Safari
    xmlhttp=new XMLHttpRequest();
  } else {  // code for IE6, IE5
    xmlhttp=new ActiveXObject("Microsoft.XMLHTTP");
  xmlhttp.onreadystatechange=function() {
    if (xmlhttp.readyState==4 && xmlhttp.status==200) {

Select a CD:
<select name="cds" onchange="showCD(this.value)">
<option value="">Select a CD:</option>
<option value="Bob Dylan">Bob Dylan</option>
<option value="Bee Gees">Bee Gees</option>
<option value="Cat Stevens">Cat Stevens</option>
<div id="txtHint"><b>CD info will be listed here...</b></div>


The showCD() function does the following:

  • Check if a CD is selected
  • Create an XMLHttpRequest object
  • Create the function to be executed when the server response is ready
  • Send the request off to a file on the server
  • Notice that a parameter (q) is added to the URL (with the content of the dropdown list)

The PHP File

The page on the server called by the JavaScript above is a PHP file called "getcd.php".

The PHP script loads an XML document, "cd_catalog.xml", runs a query against the XML file, and returns the result as HTML:


$xmlDoc = new DOMDocument();


for ($i=0; $i<=$x->length-1; $i++) {
  //Process only element nodes
  if ($x->item($i)->nodeType==1) {
    if ($x->item($i)->childNodes->item(0)->nodeValue == $q) {


for ($i=0;$i<$cd->length;$i++) {
  //Process only element nodes
  if ($cd->item($i)->nodeType==1) {
    echo("<b>" . $cd->item($i)->nodeName . ":</b> ");

When the CD query is sent from the JavaScript to the PHP page, the following happens:

  1. PHP creates an XML DOM object
  2. Find all <artist> elements that matches the name sent from the JavaScript
  3. Output the album information (send to the "txtHint" placeholder)