|Syntactic Confectionery Delight|
Re: Variable interpolation in a file to be read inby davido (Archbishop)
|on Oct 06, 2011 at 17:09 UTC||Need Help??|
It's incredible how often this comes up in one form or another. Actually it's always just a variation on the same form; someone is passing malformed SQL to their database, with the solution being either use placeholders (bind values) or proper SQL quoting.
Two weeks ago a "friend" (the kind whom I hear from when he's got a programming problem, but not otherwise) called me. The call goes something like this:
"Dave, I have a PHP web application where people are able to select songs to sample, but whenever the song they select has a quote or apostrophe in the name, the application crashes."
Now I hate working with PHP, and never even bother looking for PHP jobs to do, but I'm too soft with old friends.
So next thing I know I've got a 400 line PHP program in my inbox. I found 65 places within the spaghetti code written by some freelancer in Ukraine where he was passing unescaped SQL to the database that contained user input. The quick solution was to quote it properly (PHP oddly has a different quoting function for every database flavor). That's the free solution he got from me. It should have been rewritten with bind values, but that would have taken longer, and I didn't hear any offer to employ me. Besides, I don't really want to invest more time in brushing up on PHP.
I don't know what more can be done to save people from themselves. Discussion on proper quoting and the use of some form of placeholders can easily be found in Perl's DBI documentation, and for those PHP kiddies, PHP's documentation of dealing with databases also discusses it. People are learning Perl and PHP somewhere. I wonder what source they're using that teaches them database access without discussing this important issue.