Random Quote Script in PHP

There are many random quote scripts out there, but not all are created equal. This morning I decided I wanted to create a random quote generator for my own amusement. Specifically, I wanted a page that would return a random proverb from Puddn’head Wilson’s Calendar of Mark Twain’s The Tragedy of Puddn’head Wilson.  A quick Google search seemed to indicate there was no single place to retrieve these quotes.  I decided to place all of the quotes in a single text file and place a pound sign (#) between each of them as a delimeter.

For example:

Whoever has lived long enough to find out what life is, knows how deep a debt of gratitude we owe to Adam, the first great benefactor of our race. He brought death into the world.  - Pudd'nhead Wilson's Calendar
Adam and Eve had many advantages, but the principal one was, that they escaped teething.  - Pudd'nhead Wilson's Calendar

Most random quote scripts have you manually create an array of strings. Such as:

$quotes[] = "This is a quote"; 
$quotes[] = "This is another"; 

But, this is extremely inefficient from an end user perspective. And it’s not easy to add quotes. Instead, I chose to read in the file as one string and split it up based on my chosen delimeter (#).

The resulting code ended up being very simple:

$quote_repository = "wilson.txt";
$quotes_raw = file_get_contents($quote_repository);
$quotes = split("#",$quotes_raw);
srand ((double) microtime() * 1000000); 
$r = rand(0,count($quotes)-1); 
echo "<p>".$quotes[$r]."</p>";

To shortcut, the following would also be acceptable:

$quotes = split("#",file_get_contents("wilson.txt"));
srand ((double) microtime() * 1000000); 
$r = rand(0,count($quotes)-1); 
echo "<p>".$quotes[$r]."</p>";

And that’s all there is to it.  It pulls in all of the quotes, splits them into arrays, and displays a random one each time the script is loaded.  It’s elegant and extensible. Click here for a random Puddn’head Wilson quote.


  1. says

    hey cliff! long time no talk. I just made a blog and I wanted to add yours. Also, how did you make those other pages on your one blog site? I’m trying to figure it all out.

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