How to troubleshoot when form action is not working in PHP

form action php form troubleshooting

When developing PHP web applications, it is common to encounter issues with forms not submitting data as expected. This can be frustrating at times. In this tutorial, we will walk you through the debugging process especially when a form is not sending form data to the PHP script backend.

Before troubleshooting

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Step 1: Check the Form Action Attribute

The first step in debugging this issue is to check the form action attribute. The form action attribute tells the web browser where to submit the form data. If the form action is not set correctly, the form data will not be submitted to the correct location.

Test the form submission using is a form action testing resource. Simply point the action attribute of your form to

<form action="" method="post" >

Then test your form. will display the form data it received. If it does not display any data, then you have to check the HTML field names (see Step 2)

Check your PHP script

Once you are sure that the HTML form is working, check your PHP script.

Make sure that the action attribute points to the correct URL or PHP file that handles the form data.

Try this: make your form action PHP script show a message if it is not getting any form submission data through the $_POST[] super global. Then upload your script and directly load the script in the browser. This way, you know if the PHP script is running successfully on the server. Sample code:

	//This page should not be accessed directly. Need to submit the form.
	echo "error; you need to submit the form!";

Step 2: Check for Form Field Names

This is one of the most common mistakes in this scenario.

Each form field in the HTML form should have a name attribute. The name attribute is used to identify the form field when the form data is submitted.

To check the form field names, open the HTML form and look for the name attribute for each form field. Make sure that each form field has a unique name attribute.

Step 3: Logical errors in PHP code

Finally, check for errors in the PHP code that handles the form data. Errors in the PHP code can prevent the form data from being processed correctly.

To check for errors in the PHP code, open the PHP file that handles the form data and look for any error messages that are displayed. Common errors include undefined variables, missing or incorrect database connections, and missing or incorrect function calls. If you find any errors, fix them and save the file.

Step 4: Fix any Configuration issues

Sometimes, the PHP script may not throw any error but the form submission email is not sent or not processed as you expected. In this case, the cause could be a bad configuration of the webserver or PHP. One way to troubleshoot and fix this issue is to try to isolate the root cause. For example, if the issue is that you are not receiving emails, create a simple script that only sends a test email. Then test it and see if you are receiving the email. If a simple script couldn’t send an email, then it should be a configuration problem. Get help from your server admin or hosting service to get it resolved.

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