There are several stages for which encoding is important. Assuming that you have a string $data, which contains the string you want to pass on in a non-encoded way, these are the relevant stages:

  • HTML interpretation. In order to specify a random string, you must include it in double quotes, and htmlspecialchars() the whole value.

  • URL: A URL consists of several parts. If you want your data to be interpreted as one item, you must encode it with urlencode().

Example #1 A hidden HTML form element

    echo '<input type="hidden" value="' . htmlspecialchars($data) . '" />'."\n";

Note: It is wrong to urlencode() $data, because it's the browsers responsibility to urlencode() the data. All popular browsers do that correctly. Note that this will happen regardless of the method (i.e., GET or POST). You'll only notice this in case of GET request though, because POST requests are usually hidden.

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