Home » Enterprise Web, PHP/MySQL, Programming Techniques » PHP – How to Get Browser Properties and Capabilities – get_browser()

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In this tutorial, learn about the get_browser() PHP function and its configuration. We’ll learn how to use Gary Keith’s browser information database (browscap.ini) with the PHP browscap directive.

I wanted one of my web applications to have a different appearance on mobile phones and devices. I didn’t really want to set up an entirely different domain or use a sub domain particularly for mobile devices (like http://mobile.facebook.com). Instead I want to tackle the device inside my application logic so that all users access the same URL.

PHP’s $_SERVER['HTTP_USER_AGENT'] is cool. You can play around this variable and achieve what you want. But you don’t get all you want. Let’s look at the string output of the above variable on my browser:

Mozilla/5.0 (Windows; U; Windows NT 5.1; en-US; rv:1.9.2.6) Gecko/20100625 Firefox/3.6.6 (.NET CLR 3.5.30729)

This gives you some information. I wanted an easy way to see whether the request was from a mobile device.

PHP has this function, get_browser which attempts to determine the capabilities of the user’s browser, by looking up the browser’s information in the browscap.ini file.

In order for this to work, your browscap configuration setting in php.ini must point to the correct location of the browscap.ini file on your system. browscap.ini is not bundled with PHP, but you may find an up-to-date ยป php_browscap.ini file here. While browscap.ini contains information on many browsers, it relies on user updates to keep the database current.

First, Download the browscap.ini file for PHP from the above website. There are many files and this is the one you need: Gary Keith’s browscap.ini for PHP

Now, open your PHP.ini file and find for “browscap”. You will see something like this:

[browscap]
;browscap = extras\browscap.ini

Remove the semicolon and change the path to point to the php_browscap.ini you just downloaded. Your PHP.ini directive now looks like this:

[browscap]
browscap = C:\Inetpub\PHP5\extras\php_browscap.ini

Save the PHP.ini file and restart your Web server.

Now use the get_browser function in your PHP code to get user’s browser properties and capabilities.

<?php
$browser = get_browser(null, true);
echo "<pre>";
print_r($browser);
echo "</pre>";
?>

This is the output I got when I accessed the script using a Computer Browser.

Array
(
    [browser_name_regex] => ^mozilla/5\.0 (windows; .*; windows nt 5\.1; .*; rv:1\.9\.2.*) gecko/.* firefox/3\.6.*$
    [browser_name_pattern] => Mozilla/5.0 (Windows; *; Windows NT 5.1; *; rv:1.9.2*) Gecko/* Firefox/3.6*
    [parent] => Firefox 3.6
    [platform] => WinXP
    [win32] => 1
    [browser] => Firefox
    [version] => 3.6
    [majorver] => 3
    [minorver] => 6
    [frames] => 1
    [iframes] => 1
    [tables] => 1
    [cookies] => 1
    [javaapplets] => 1
    1 => 1
    [cssversion] => 3
    [supportscss] => 1
    [alpha] =>
    [beta] =>
    [win16] =>
    [win64] =>
    [backgroundsounds] =>
    [cdf] =>
    [vbscript] =>
    [activexcontrols] =>
    [isbanned] =>
    [ismobiledevice] =>
    [issyndicationreader] =>
    [crawler] =>
    [aol] =>
    [aolversion] => 0
)

When I accessed the same script using a mobile phone, here’s what I got:

Array
(
    [browser_name_regex] => ^.*nokia.*/.*$
    [browser_name_pattern] => *Nokia*/*
    [parent] => Nokia
    [browser] => Nokia
    [tables] => 1
    [cookies] => 1
    [ismobiledevice] => 1
    [version] => 0
    [majorver] => 0
    [minorver] => 0
    [platform] => unknown
    [frames] =>
    [iframes] =>
    [javaapplets] =>
    1 =>
    [cssversion] => 0
    [supportscss] =>
    [alpha] =>
    [beta] =>
    [win16] =>
    [win64] =>
    [backgroundsounds] =>
    [cdf] =>
    [vbscript] =>
    [activexcontrols] =>
    [isbanned] =>
    [ismobiledevice] =>
    [issyndicationreader] =>
    [crawler] =>
    [aol] =>
    [aolversion] => 0
)

I was just looking at this,

[ismobiledevice] => 1
Interesting uh!

If your shared hosting service doesn’t allow you to modify the PHP.INI file, you would want to use a stand alone implementation of the same concept by Jonathan. http://code.google.com/p/phpbrowscap/

2 Comments

  1. burs says:

    Good job for straight forward tutorial.

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