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Disable PHP Short tags

A quick tip for any WordPress devs out there (or any other devs for that matter). Don’t use PHP short tags!

I’ve been bitten by this more than once in the past. Some servers allow PHP short tags (<?) and others don’t (<?php) and so when distributing your code it will look broken to some people – and work fine for others.

For me PHP Short Tags have been an issue when creating WordPress themes for Pro Theme Design. As such I learnt my lesson a long time ago – but as this recent post from Konstantin (a developer at Automattic) shows – even the best get caught out sometimes.

You could argue that if you’re only making ‘things’ for yourself that it doesn’t matter – but even then it’s not guaranteed. If you ever have to move server/ web host, or if your PHP settings get changed by your host, you could end up in the situation that stuff breaks and you’re not sure why.

I think the best way to solve this is to simply disable short tags in php.ini.

Doing this is really, and can be done in a couple of ways.

Disable PHP short tags with php.ini

All you have to do is load up php.ini and add/ change the following line, and then restart apache (I normally do this through my web host control panel):

short_open_tag=On

Disable short tags with .htaccess

This is actually my preferred method because it’s so much simpler – and since I work with WordPress so much I always have a .htaccess file to hand. Just open up your .htaccess file and add the following line:

php_value short_open_tag 0

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