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Setting Cookies in WordPress

Setting Cookies in WordPress

Dive into the world of cookies in WordPress with me as we explore the ins and outs of managing these digital delights the right way!

Let’s explore cookies in WordPress—not the edible kind, but those tiny data bits enhancing your site. I’ve sifted through right and wrong cookie handling, and trust me, the WordPress way simplifies everything. Dive into making your site more delicious with proper cookie use, WordPress style.

TL;DR

For those who prefer to cut straight to the chase, here’s the TL;DR section where we dive directly into the code examples. These snippets showcase how to effectively manage cookies within your WordPress site, from setting and retrieving to deleting cookies, following WordPress coding standards.

// The sweet way to set a cookie
setcookie('cookie_name', 'cookie_value', current_time( 'timestamp' ) + (7 * DAY_IN_SECONDS), COOKIEPATH, COOKIE_DOMAIN);

// Consuming your cookie
if (isset($_COOKIE['cookie_name'])) {
echo $_COOKIE['cookie_name'];
}

// Say goodbye to your cookie
setcookie('cookie_name', '', current_time( 'timestamp' ) - (DAY_IN_SECONDS), COOKIEPATH, COOKIE_DOMAIN);
unset($_COOKIE['cookie_name']);

/**
* Sets or retrieves a cookie value in a WordPress environment.
*
* Checks if a specific function exists to avoid function redeclaration.
* This function allows setting a new cookie if both key and value are provided.
* If only the key is provided, it attempts to retrieve the value of an existing cookie.
* Utilizes WordPress constants `COOKIEPATH` and `COOKIE_DOMAIN` for cookie setting.
*
* @since Version 1.0.0
*
* @param string $key The name of the cookie.
* @param string|null $value The value of the cookie. Default null.
* @param int $expiration The time the cookie expires. Default 0.
* @return bool|string False if the cookie does not exist or the value of the cookie if it does.
*/
if ( ! function_exists( 'wp_custom_cookie' ) ) {
function wp_custom_cookie( $key, $value = null, $expiration = 0 ) {
if ( null !== $value ) {
// Set the cookie.
return setcookie( $key, $value, $expiration, COOKIEPATH, COOKIE_DOMAIN );
}
// Attempt to get the value of the cookie, if it exists.
return isset( $_COOKIE[ $key ] ) ? $_COOKIE[ $key ] : false;
}
}

The Essentials of Setting Cookies

First off, setting cookies in WordPress isn’t like throwing ingredients into a bowl and hoping for the best. There’s a method to the madness. Using built-in constants like COOKIEPATH and COOKIE_DOMAIN helps ensure your cookies are set precisely where and how they should be. Here’s my go-to method:

// The sweet way to set a cookie
setcookie('cookie_name', 'cookie_value', current_time( 'timestamp' ) + (7 * DAY_IN_SECONDS), COOKIEPATH, COOKIE_DOMAIN);
  • COOKIEPATH – Server path where the cookies will be available
  • COOKIE_DOMAIN – The (sub)domain where the cookie will be available

This line of code is like your baking timer, ensuring your cookies come out just right, setting them for a week before they expire.

Using WordPress Time Constants

Setting cookies in WordPress is a cinch when using one of the pre-set time constants available since v3.5.

  • MINUTE_IN_SECONDS = 60 seconds
  • HOUR_IN_SECONDS = 3,600 seconds
  • DAY_IN_SECONDS = 86,400 seconds
  • WEEK_IN_SECONDS = 604,800 seconds
  • MONTH_IN_SECONDS = 2,629,746 seconds
  • YEAR_IN_SECONDS = 31,556,952 seconds

Retrieving and Deleting Cookies

Grabbing the value of a cookie is like reaching into the cookie jar. Just use:

if (isset($_COOKIE['cookie_name'])) {
echo $_COOKIE['cookie_name'];
}

And when it’s time to clean up? You can make those cookies disappear with:

// Say goodbye to your cookie
setcookie('cookie_name', '', time() - (DAY_IN_SECONDS), COOKIEPATH, COOKIE_DOMAIN);
unset($_COOKIE['cookie_name']);

I’ve whipped up a little something to make managing cookies a piece of cake. This handy function lets you set and get cookies with ease:

/**
* Sets or retrieves a cookie value in a WordPress environment.
*
* Checks if a specific function exists to avoid function redeclaration.
* This function allows setting a new cookie if both key and value are provided.
* If only the key is provided, it attempts to retrieve the value of an existing cookie.
* Utilizes WordPress constants `COOKIEPATH` and `COOKIE_DOMAIN` for cookie setting.
*
* @since Version 1.0.0
*
* @param string $key The name of the cookie.
* @param string|null $value The value of the cookie. Default null.
* @param int $expiration The time the cookie expires. Default 0.
* @return bool|string False if the cookie does not exist or the value of the cookie if it does.
*/
if ( ! function_exists( 'wp_custom_cookie' ) ) {
function wp_custom_cookie( $key, $value = null, $expiration = 0 ) {
if ( null !== $value ) {
// Set the cookie.
return setcookie( $key, $value, $expiration, COOKIEPATH, COOKIE_DOMAIN );
}
// Attempt to get the value of the cookie, if it exists.
return isset( $_COOKIE[ $key ] ) ? $_COOKIE[ $key ] : false;
}
}

Now, setting, retrieving, and deleting cookies is as easy as pie.

Timing is everything in baking and in setting cookies on your site. You’ve got to do it before any page content starts loading, which means hooking into WordPress early on. I usually stick to the init hook, but wp_loaded works great too.

  • setup_theme — Fires before the theme is loaded. See the documentation.
  • after_setup_theme — Fires after the theme is loaded. See the documentation.
  • init — Fires after WordPress has finished loading but before any headers are sent. See the documentation.
  • wp_loaded — This hook is fired once WordPress, all plugins, and the theme are fully loaded and instantiated. See the documentation.

What Exactly Are Cookies?

Alright, let’s pause our coding cookbook for a second and talk cookies – the tech kind. These tiny text files store bits of data about your site visitors, like preferences or login status, making their experience smoother and more personalized. They’re the unsung heroes of the user experience, working behind the scenes to make everything seamless.

It’s important to notify users that cookies are being used.

Everyday more and more privacy laws are enacted to protect users’ identity. Since cookies can store user information and be used to track habits, setting cookies in WordPress must be done in a way to comply with federal and state laws.

Recently, California passed the California Consumer Privacy Act. The CCPA allows cookies but requires the company:

  1. to provide consumers the option to opt-out of the sale of the consumer’s cookie-related data to third parties and
  2. if a third party places cookies on the company’s website, to enter into contracts that protect consumers’ information.

It’s even stricter in the European Union — in the form of the EU Directive 2009/136/EC. This is commonly referred to as the EU Cookie Law. In short, the legislation says that sites in Europe must ask visitors for their consent before installing certain types of cookies.

Cookie can impact a browsers performance.

Setting cookies in WordPress is all fine and well, just don’t get carried away. Cookies will slow down web browsers, which is why they should be cleaned regularly.

Wrapping It Up with a Bow

And there you have it, my guide to mastering cookies in WordPress. It’s all about enhancing the user experience while keeping things on the up-and-up with coding standards and legal requirements. Whether you’re looking to personalize your site, remember user preferences, or just make your site work a bit smoother, the right approach to cookies can work wonders.

I’d love to hear how you use cookies on your site. Do you have any tips or tricks? Or maybe a favorite cookie recipe, WordPress or otherwise? Drop your thoughts in the comments below and let’s chat!

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