Online Group Chat application using PHP

Prerequisties:
Technical knowledge:

  • HTML
  • CSS
  • Javascript (basics)
  • PHP (Database connectivity)
  • SQL queries

Softwares to be installed:

  • XAMPP server: This is a free software which contains web server Apache, Database management system for MySQL (or MariaDB). It can be downloaded for free from the official site.
  • phpmyadmin: It is a free and open source software for administering MySQL and MariaDB. You can download it from the official site. The zip file downloaded must be pasted in the following location.

    C:\xampp\htdocs</strong

  • Unzipping the file anywhere else won’t work well. Just unzip the contents there is enough.
  • Text editor: Any text editor like Notepad++ or ordinary Notepad is enough to implement this.
  • Browser: Any JavaScript enabled will be enough to run the code.

The Group Chat application: This is a simple group chat application to demonstrate the idea of the one you see in WhatsApp messenger with the localhost server. Multiple users can come and share their views here. The MySQL database stores the chats and retrieves it effectively. To implement this application successfully, we have to build the CSS and JavaScript for styling the UI, HTML part to render it, PHP code for storing and retrieving from the database. This application will contain two fields namely the username and the text message. The messages of the user who texts first will be aligned to the right side of the chatroom and messages of the others at the left side. Let us look at the implementation.

CSS: Place this under the style tag or in an external stylesheet file and link it. This CSS file comprises the styles for the chatroom, the text messages and the chat bubbles.



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<style>
*{
    box-sizing:border-box;
}
body{
    background-color:#abd9e9;
    font-family:Arial;
}
#container{
    width:500px;
    height:700px;
    background:white;
    margin:0 auto;
    font-size:0;
    border-radius:5px;
    overflow:hidden;
}
main{
    width:500px;
    height:700px;
    display:inline-block;
    font-size:15px;
    vertical-align:top;
}
main header{
    height:100px;
    padding:30px 20px 30px 40px;
    background-color:#622569;   
}
main header > *{
    display:inline-block;
    vertical-align:top;
}
main header img:first-child{
    width:24px;
    margin-top:8px;
}   
main header img:last-child{
    width:24px;
    margin-top:8px;
}
main header div{
    margin-left:90px;
    margin-right:90px;
}
main header h2{
    font-size:25px;
    margin-top:5px;
    text-align:center;
    color:#FFFFFF;   
}
main .inner_div{
    padding-left:0;
    margin:0;
    list-style-type:none;
    position:relative;
    overflow:auto;
    height:500px;
    background-image:url(
    background-position:center;
    background-repeat:no-repeat;
    background-size:cover;
    position: relative;
    border-top:2px solid #fff;
    border-bottom:2px solid #fff;
      
}
main .triangle{
    width: 0;
    height: 0;
    border-style: solid;
    border-width: 0 8px 8px 8px;
    border-color: transparent 
    transparent #58b666 transparent;
    margin-left:20px;
    clear:both;
}
main .message{
    padding:10px;
    color:#000;
    margin-left:15px;
    background-color:#58b666;
    line-height:20px;
    max-width:90%;
    display:inline-block;
    text-align:left;
    border-radius:5px;
    clear:both;
}
main .triangle1{
    width: 0;
    height: 0;
    border-style: solid;
    border-width: 0 8px 8px 8px;
    border-color: transparent 
   transparent #6fbced transparent;
    margin-right:20px;
    float:right;
    clear:both;
}
main .message1{
    padding:10px;
    color:#000;
    margin-right:15px;
    background-color:#6fbced;
    line-height:20px;
    max-width:90%;
    display:inline-block;
    text-align:left;
    border-radius:5px;
    float:right;
    clear:both;
}
main .triangle2{
    width: 0;
    height: 0;
    border-style: solid;
    border-width: 0 8px 8px 8px;
    border-color: transparent 
    transparent #58b666 transparent;
    margin-left:20px;
    clear:both
}
main .message2{
    padding:10px;
    color:#000;
    margin-left:15px;
    background-color:#58b666;
    line-height:20px;
    max-width:90%;
    display:inline-block;
    text-align:left;
    border-radius:5px;
    clear:both
}
main footer{
    height:150px;
    padding:20px 30px 10px 20px;
    background-color:#622569;
}
main footer .input1{
    resize:none;
    border:100%;
    display:block;
    width:120%;
    height:55px;
    border-radius:3px;
    padding:20px;
    font-size:13px;
    margin-bottom:13px;
}
main footer textarea{
    resize:none;
    border:100%;
    display:block;
    width:140%;
    height:55px;
    border-radius:3px;
    padding:20px;
    font-size:13px;
    margin-bottom:13px;
    margin-left:20px;
}
main footer .input2{
    resize:none;
    border:100%;
    display:block;
    width:40%;
    height:55px;
    border-radius:3px;
    padding:20px;
    font-size:13px;
    margin-bottom:13px;
    margin-left:100px;
    color:white;
    text-align:center;
    background-color:black;
    border: 2px solid white;  
}
}
main footer textarea::placeholder{
    color:#ddd;
}
</style>

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Database Creation: Open the XAMPP control panel in your PC, Click start button for both Apache and MySQL. This step is very important to create a database and for running the application also. Open the browser (mostly Internet Explorer). On the search bar, type the line given below.

localhost/phpmyadmin

It will open up a tab where you can create a database. For this application, a database named chat_app is created. A table named chats with the fields “uname”, “msg”, “dt” is created. Here “uname” is of varchar type and denotes the user name, the “msg” is also of varchar type and denotes the message sent and the “dt” denotes datetime (set to varchar type for formatting purpose), object for storing the time at which the message was sent.

PHP code for storing in the MySQL database: To insert the chats every time a user presses the “send” button, write this code before the initial HTML tag. Attempt MySQL server connection. Assuming you are running MySQL server with default setting (user ‘root’ with no password).

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<?php
    if (isset($_POST['submit'])){
       
    $link = mysqli_connect("localhost"
                "root", "", "chat_app");
        
    // Check connection
    if($link === false){
        die("ERROR: Could not connect. " 
                . mysqli_connect_error());
    }
        
    // Escape user inputs for security
    $un= mysqli_real_escape_string(
            $link, $_REQUEST['uname']);
    $m = mysqli_real_escape_string(
            $link, $_REQUEST['msg']);
              
    date_default_timezone_set('Asia/Kolkata');
    $ts=date('y-m-d h:ia');
        
    // Attempt insert query execution
    $sql = "INSERT INTO chats (uname, msg, dt) 
                VALUES ('$un', '$m', '$ts')";
    if(mysqli_query($link, $sql)){
        ;
    } else{
        echo "ERROR: Message not sent!!!";
    }
       
    // Close connection
    mysqli_close($link);
}
?>

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PHP and HTML code for fetching and aligning messages in the chatroom: In this chat application, the very first user’s chat is aligned to the right side. If the next message is also from the same user, it is also aligned to the right side of the chat room. If the message is from any other user, then that message will be aligned to the left side. The PHP function to achieve this is given below. Since the action to be carried out using PHP function is written on the same file, in the <form> tag, the action is set to the name of the same file. (Group_chat.php)

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<body onload="show_func()">
<div id="container">
    <main>
        <header>
            <img src="https://s3-us-west-2.amazonaws.com/
             s.cdpn.io/1940306/ico_star.png" alt="">
            <div>
                <h2>GROUP CHAT</h2>
            </div>
            <img src="https://s3-us-west-2.amazonaws.com/
            s.cdpn.io/1940306/ico_star.png" alt="">
        </header>
  
<script>
function show_func(){
  
 var element = document.getElementById("chathist");
    element.scrollTop = element.scrollHeight;
   
 }
 </script>
   
<form id="myform" action="Group_chat.php" method="POST" >
<div class="inner_div" id="chathist">
<?php 
$host = "localhost"
$user = "root"
$pass = ""
$db_name = "chat_app"
$con = new mysqli($host, $user, $pass, $db_name);
  
$query = "SELECT * FROM chats";
 $run = $con->query($query); 
 $i=0;
   
 while($row = $run->fetch_array()) : 
 if($i==0){
 $i=5;
 $first=$row;
 ?>
 <div id="triangle1" class="triangle1"></div>
 <div id="message1" class="message1"
 <span style="color:white;float:right;"
  <?php echo $row['msg']; ?>
 </span> <br/>
 <div>
  <span style="color:black;float:left;
   font-size:10px;clear:both;">
   <?php echo $row['uname']; ?>, <?php echo $row['dt']; ?>
 </span>
 </div>
</div>
<br/><br/>
 <?php
 }
else
{
if($row['uname']!=$first['uname'])
{
?>
 <div id="triangle" class="triangle"></div>
 <div id="message" class="message"
 <span style="color:white;float:left;">
 <?php echo $row['msg']; ?></span> <br/>
 <div>
  <span style="color:black;float:right;
          font-size:10px;clear:both;"> 
   <?php echo $row['uname']; ?>, 
        <?php echo $row['dt']; ?>
 </span>
</div>
</div>
<br/><br/>
<?php
else
{
?>
 <div id="triangle1" class="triangle1"></div>
 <div id="message1" class="message1"
 <span style="color:white;float:right;">
 <?php echo $row['msg']; ?></span> <br/>
 <div>
  <span style="color:black;float:left;
          font-size:10px;clear:both;"> 
    <?php echo $row['uname']; ?>, 
        <?php echo $row['dt']; ?>
  </span>
</div>
</div>
<br/><br/>
<?php
}
}
endwhile; ?>
</div>
    <footer>
        <table>
         <tr>
             <th>
              <input  class="input1" type="text" id="uname"
               name="uname" placeholder="From"></input>
              </th>
              <th>
              <textarea id="msg" name="msg" rows='3' 
               cols='50' placeholder="Type your message">
             </textarea>
              </th>
              <th>
              <input class="input2" type="submit" id="submit" 
              name="submit" value="send"></input>
              </th>                
        </tr>
        </table>                
    </footer>
</form>
</main>    
</div>
  
</body>

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Now the CSS, JavaScript, PHP and HTML part is put together and the whole code is given below. It is saved as Group_chat.php

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<?php
if (isset($_POST['submit'])){
/* Attempt MySQL server connection. Assuming
you are running MySQL server with default 
setting (user 'root' with no password) */
$link = mysqli_connect("localhost"
            "root", "", "chat_app");
   
// Check connection
if($link === false){
    die("ERROR: Could not connect. " 
          . mysqli_connect_error());
}
   
// Escape user inputs for security
$un= mysqli_real_escape_string(
      $link, $_REQUEST['uname']);
$m = mysqli_real_escape_string(
      $link, $_REQUEST['msg']);
date_default_timezone_set('Asia/Kolkata');
$ts=date('y-m-d h:ia');
   
// Attempt insert query execution
$sql = "INSERT INTO chats (uname, msg, dt)
        VALUES ('$un', '$m', '$ts')";
if(mysqli_query($link, $sql)){
    ;
} else{
    echo "ERROR: Message not sent!!!";
}
 // Close connection
mysqli_close($link);
}
?>
<html>
<head>
<style>
*{
    box-sizing:border-box;
}
body{
    background-color:#abd9e9;
    font-family:Arial;
}
#container{
    width:500px;
    height:700px;
    background:white;
    margin:0 auto;
    font-size:0;
    border-radius:5px;
    overflow:hidden;
}
main{
    width:500px;
    height:700px;
    display:inline-block;
    font-size:15px;
    vertical-align:top;
}
main header{
    height:100px;
    padding:30px 20px 30px 40px;
    background-color:#622569;   
}
main header > *{
    display:inline-block;
    vertical-align:top;
}
main header img:first-child{
    width:24px;
    margin-top:8px;
}   
main header img:last-child{
    width:24px;
    margin-top:8px;
}
main header div{
    margin-left:90px;
    margin-right:90px;
}
main header h2{
    font-size:25px;
    margin-top:5px;
    text-align:center;
    color:#FFFFFF;   
}
main .inner_div{
    padding-left:0;
    margin:0;
    list-style-type:none;
    position:relative;
    overflow:auto;
    height:500px;
    background-image:url(
https://media.geeksforgeeks.org/wp-content/cdn-uploads/20200911064223/bg.jpg);
    background-position:center;
    background-repeat:no-repeat;
    background-size:cover;
    position: relative;
    border-top:2px solid #fff;
    border-bottom:2px solid #fff;
      
}
main .triangle{
    width: 0;
    height: 0;
    border-style: solid;
    border-width: 0 8px 8px 8px;
    border-color: transparent transparent
      #58b666 transparent;
    margin-left:20px;
    clear:both;
}
main .message{
    padding:10px;
    color:#000;
    margin-left:15px;
    background-color:#58b666;
    line-height:20px;
    max-width:90%;
    display:inline-block;
    text-align:left;
    border-radius:5px;
    clear:both;
}
main .triangle1{
    width: 0;
    height: 0;
    border-style: solid;
    border-width: 0 8px 8px 8px;
    border-color: transparent 
      transparent #6fbced transparent;
    margin-right:20px;
    float:right;
    clear:both;
}
main .message1{
    padding:10px;
    color:#000;
    margin-right:15px;
    background-color:#6fbced;
    line-height:20px;
    max-width:90%;
    display:inline-block;
    text-align:left;
    border-radius:5px;
    float:right;
    clear:both;
}
  
main footer{
    height:150px;
    padding:20px 30px 10px 20px;
    background-color:#622569;
}
main footer .input1{
    resize:none;
    border:100%;
    display:block;
    width:120%;
    height:55px;
    border-radius:3px;
    padding:20px;
    font-size:13px;
    margin-bottom:13px;
}
main footer textarea{
    resize:none;
    border:100%;
    display:block;
    width:140%;
    height:55px;
    border-radius:3px;
    padding:20px;
    font-size:13px;
    margin-bottom:13px;
    margin-left:20px;
}
main footer .input2{
    resize:none;
    border:100%;
    display:block;
    width:40%;
    height:55px;
    border-radius:3px;
    padding:20px;
    font-size:13px;
    margin-bottom:13px;
    margin-left:100px;
    color:white;
    text-align:center;
    background-color:black;
    border: 2px solid white;  
}
}
main footer textarea::placeholder{
    color:#ddd;
}
  
</style>
<body onload="show_func()">
<div id="container">
    <main>
        <header>
            <img src="https://s3-us-west-2.amazonaws.com/
             s.cdpn.io/1940306/ico_star.png" alt="">
            <div>
                <h2>GROUP CHAT</h2>
            </div>
            <img src="https://s3-us-west-2.amazonaws.com/
            s.cdpn.io/1940306/ico_star.png" alt="">
        </header>
  
<script>
function show_func(){
  
 var element = document.getElementById("chathist");
    element.scrollTop = element.scrollHeight;
   
 }
 </script>
   
<form id="myform" action="Group_chat.php" method="POST" >
<div class="inner_div" id="chathist">
<?php 
$host = "localhost"
$user = "root"
$pass = ""
$db_name = "chat_app"
$con = new mysqli($host, $user, $pass, $db_name);
  
$query = "SELECT * FROM chats";
 $run = $con->query($query); 
 $i=0;
   
 while($row = $run->fetch_array()) : 
 if($i==0){
 $i=5;
 $first=$row;
 ?>
 <div id="triangle1" class="triangle1"></div>
 <div id="message1" class="message1"
 <span style="color:white;float:right;">
 <?php echo $row['msg']; ?></span> <br/>
 <div>
   <span style="color:black;float:left;
   font-size:10px;clear:both;">
    <?php echo $row['uname']; ?>, 
        <?php echo $row['dt']; ?>
   </span>
</div>
</div>
<br/><br/>
 <?php
 }
else
{
if($row['uname']!=$first['uname'])
{
?>
 <div id="triangle" class="triangle"></div>
 <div id="message" class="message"
 <span style="color:white;float:left;">
   <?php echo $row['msg']; ?>
 </span> <br/>
 <div>
  <span style="color:black;float:right;
          font-size:10px;clear:both;">
  <?php echo $row['uname']; ?>, 
        <?php echo $row['dt']; ?>
 </span>
</div>
</div>
<br/><br/>
<?php
else
{
?>
 <div id="triangle1" class="triangle1"></div>
 <div id="message1" class="message1"
 <span style="color:white;float:right;">
  <?php echo $row['msg']; ?>
 </span> <br/>
 <div>
 <span style="color:black;float:left;
         font-size:10px;clear:both;"> 
 <?php echo $row['uname']; ?>, 
      <?php echo $row['dt']; ?>
 </span>
</div>
</div>
<br/><br/>
<?php
}
}
endwhile;
?>
</div>
    <footer>
        <table>
        <tr>
           <th>
            <input  class="input1" type="text" 
                    id="uname" name="uname" 
                    placeholder="From">
           </th>
           <th>
            <textarea id="msg" name="msg" 
                rows='3' cols='50'
                placeholder="Type your message">
            </textarea></th>
           <th>
            <input class="input2" type="submit" 
            id="submit" name="submit" value="send">
           </th>                
        </tr>
        </table>                
    </footer>
</form>
</main>    
</div>
  
</body>
</html>

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Steps to run the code:

  • Save the file above as Group_chat.php inside a new folder in C:\xampp\htdocs. For example, I have placed the file inside the folder named “myfiles” inside the htdocs folder.
  • Before running the application create a database by following the steps given above. Name the database as chat_app. Name the table as chats.
  • Check the XAMPP control panel to ensure whether the Apache and MySQL are in running state.
  • Open the browser and type localhost/myfiles. The index of that directory will open. Click on the Group_chat.php.
  • Start sending messages and see the result

Output:

Empty chatroom


user-1 : steve types the message and clicks send

Message added to chat room


another message from steve


Ria types her second message


message added to chatroom

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