Below is all relevant code and the resulting output. An explanation of my confusion follows.

Registration Script

    echo "1 - Start<br />";

    $username = filter_input(INPUT_POST, 'username', FILTER_SANITIZE_STRING);
    echo "2 - Username from POST - $username<br />";

    $password = $_POST['password'];
    echo "3 - Password from POST - $password<br />";

    $passhash = "{exp:encryption:create_hash password='" . $password . "'}"; //Contains echo 4
    echo "5 - Hashed Password Returned - $passhash<br />";

    $username2 = "{exp:encryption:print_username username='" . $username . "'}"; //Contains echo 6
    echo "7 - printed Username - $username2<br />";
    {exp:database:add_user username="<?php echo $username2; ?>" passhash="<?php echo $passhash; ?>"} <!--Contains echo 8--> 

Plugin: pi.encryption.php (excerpt)

function Create_hash()
    $password = ee()->TMPL->fetch_param('password');

    //echo "Password to hash: $password<br />";
    // format: algorithm:iterations:salt:hash
    $salt = base64_encode(mcrypt_create_iv(PBKDF2_SALT_BYTE_SIZE, MCRYPT_DEV_URANDOM));
    $hashed = PBKDF2_HASH_ALGORITHM . ":" . PBKDF2_ITERATIONS . ":" .  $salt . ":" .
    echo "4 - Hashed Password Method - $hashed<br />";
    return $hashed;

function Print_username()
    $username = ee()->TMPL->fetch_param('username');
    echo "6 - Pushing username through function - $username<br />";
    return $username;

Plugin: pi.database.php (excerpt)

function Add_user()
    $username = ee()->TMPL->fetch_param('username');
    $passhash = ee()->TMPL->fetch_param('passhash');

    echo "8<br />";
    echo "--->Username to database: $username<br />";
    echo "--->Passhash to database: $passhash<br />";

    $data = array(
        'User_ID'       =>null,
        'User_Name'     =>$username,
        'User_Passhash' =>$passhash.""
    $query = ee()->db->insert('exp_user', $data);

Printed output from running the registration script

4 - Hashed Password Method - sha256:1000:axEzJMSQWDR/tyeeuWxDJC80YHJGlIm/:yk1KnSWyeXlwPb4vQThKAyXSF/yqwiID
6 - Pushing username through function - testUsername
--->Username to database: M10o93H7pQ09L8X1t49cHY01Z5j4TT91fGfr
--->Passhash to database: M00o93H7pQ09L8X1t49cHY01Z5j4TT91fGfr
1 - Start
2 - Username from POST - testUsername
3 - Password from POST - testPassword
5 - Hashed Password Returned - sha256:1000:axEzJMSQWDR/tyeeuWxDJC80YHJGlIm/:yk1KnSWyeXlwPb4vQThKAyXSF/yqwiID
7 - printed Username - testUsername

In my registration script which contains expression engine tags, I inserted some test prints to make it easier to follow the program execution.

My code (if the world were perfect) retrieves a given username and password from POST. The password is encrypted with a plugin function. Then a second plugin function is used to add the username and the encrypted password to a database.

The PHP parsing order is set to "Input", so the php is parsed before the EE tags. With this in mind, I am a bit confused why the PHP lines containing EE tags are all executed first as a group. Though that is confusing, that is not my main problem.

Look at output line #8. The $passhash sent to the Add_user() method via the EE tags is not the value of $passhash that is generated and returned by the Create_hash() method. Even though I explicitly send $passhash to the Add_user() function, a completely different string is sent instead.

$username, if passed directly to the Add_user() method, acts as is intended and is properly added to the database.

The problem I'm having with $passhash only happens when I'm using a result returned from a plugin function. I confirmed this by recreating the issue using $username. To see if the issue is consistent, I changed my code to pipe $username through the Print_username(). It simply returns the string given, and is saved as $username2 in the registration script.

Demonstrated in the output line 8, $username2 is now having the same issue as $passhash.

Now, my question: How can I use returned values from plugin functions as parameters for other plugins without the latter receiving garbage?

1 Answer 1


What you're trying to accomplish would be better served using a module, instead of plugins in a template. With a module, you can create a true form action and use pure PHP, rather than fighting the template parser with the spaghetti you've got here.

There are good docs on building a module: http://ellislab.com/expressionengine/user-guide/development/modules.html http://ellislab.com/expressionengine/user-guide/development/module_tutorial.html

In particular you want to create an action in your module->install function:

function install()
  $data = array(
    'module_name' => 'Module_name',
    'module_version' => $this->version,
    'has_cp_backend' => 'n',
    'has_publish_fields' => 'n',

  ee()->db->insert('modules', $data);

  //here's where you create your action in the database
  //later on, you'll look up this action to POST to it
  $data = array(
    'class'     => 'Module_name',
    'method'    => 'register'

  ee()->db->insert('actions', $data);

And then in your module you'd create a register method:

function register()
   //get the username & password from $_POST
   //hash the password
   //add the user to DB
   //redirect or print a message

You'll also need to create a form tag (you can call it whatever you want):

function form()
  $return_data = ee()->functions->form_declaration(array(
    'hidden_fields' => array(
      'ACT' => ee()->functions->fetch_action_id('Module_name', 'register'),

  $return_data .= ee()->TMPL->tagdata;

  $return_data .= '</form>';

  return $return_data;

Then you can print the form in a template on the front-end, and it will correctly POST to your form action:

  <input name="username">
  <input type="password" name="password">
  <input type="submit" value="Submit">
  • You're an angel and a saint. +1 for calling my code "spaghetti". Thank you so much for the fully-detailed response!
    – John G
    Aug 30, 2013 at 19:56

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