URI Filters

Filed under End-User
Return to the index.
HTML Purifier End-User Documentation

This is a quick and dirty document to get you on your way to writing custom URI filters for your own URL filtering needs. Why would you want to write a URI filter? If you need URIs your users put into HTML to magically change into a different URI, this is exactly what you need!

Creating the class

Any URI filter you make will be a subclass of HTMLPurifier_URIFilter. The scaffolding is thus:

class HTMLPurifier_URIFilter_NameOfFilter extends HTMLPurifier_URIFilter
    public $name = 'NameOfFilter';
    public function prepare($config) {}
    public function filter(&$uri, $config, $context) {}

Fill in the variable $name with the name of your filter, and take a look at the two methods. prepare() is an initialization method that is called only once, before any filtering has been done of the HTML. Use it to perform any costly setup work that only needs to be done once. filter() is the guts and innards of our filter: it takes the URI and does whatever needs to be done to it.

If you've worked with HTML Purifier, you'll recognize the $config and $context parameters. On the other hand, $uri is something unique to this section of the application: it's a HTMLPurifier_URI object. The interface is thus:

class HTMLPurifier_URI
    public $scheme, $userinfo, $host, $port, $path, $query, $fragment;
    public function HTMLPurifier_URI($scheme, $userinfo, $host, $port, $path, $query, $fragment);
    public function toString();
    public function copy();
    public function getSchemeObj($config, $context);
    public function validate($config, $context);

The first three methods are fairly self-explanatory: you have a constructor, a serializer, and a cloner. Generally, you won't be using them when you are manipulating the URI objects themselves. getSchemeObj() is a special purpose method that returns a HTMLPurifier_URIScheme object corresponding to the specific URI at hand. validate() performs general-purpose validation on the internal components of a URI. Once again, you don't need to worry about these: they've already been handled for you.

URI format

As a URIFilter, we're interested in the member variables of the URI object.

Scheme The protocol for identifying (and possibly locating) a resource (http, ftp, https)
Userinfo User information such as a username (bob)
Host Domain name or IP address of the server (example.com,
Port Network port number for the server (80, 12345)
Path Data that identifies the resource, possibly hierarchical (/path/to, ed@example.com)
Query String of information to be interpreted by the resource (?q=search-term)
Fragment Additional information for the resource after retrieval (#bookmark)

Because the URI is presented to us in this form, and not http://bob@example.com:8080/foo.php?q=string#hash, it saves us a lot of trouble in having to parse the URI every time we want to filter it. For the record, the above URI has the following components:

Scheme http
Userinfo bob
Host example.com
Port 8080
Path /foo.php
Query q=string
Fragment hash

Note that there is no question mark or octothorpe in the query or fragment: these get removed during parsing.

With this information, you can get straight to implementing your filter() method. But one more thing...

Return value: Boolean, not URI

You may have noticed that the URI is being passed in by reference. This means that whatever changes you make to it, those changes will be reflected in the URI object the callee had. Do not return the URI object: it is unnecessary and will cause bugs. Instead, return a boolean value, true if the filtering was successful, or false if the URI is beyond repair and needs to be axed.

Let's suppose I wanted to write a filter that converted links with a custom image scheme to its corresponding real path on our website:

class HTMLPurifier_URIFilter_TransformImageScheme extends HTMLPurifier_URIFilter
    public $name = 'TransformImageScheme';
    public function filter(&$uri, $config, $context) {
        if ($uri->scheme !== 'image') return true;
        $img_name = $uri->path;
        // Overwrite the previous URI object
        $uri = new HTMLPurifier_URI('http', null, null, null, '/img/' . $img_name . '.png', null, null);
        return true;

Notice I did not return $uri;. This filter would turn image:Foo into /img/Foo.png.

Activating your filter

Having a filter is all well and good, but you need to tell HTML Purifier to use it. Fortunately, this part's simple:

$uri = $config->getDefinition('URI');
$uri->addFilter(new HTMLPurifier_URIFilter_NameOfFilter(), $config);

After adding a filter, you won't be able to set configuration directives. Structure your code accordingly.


Remember our TransformImageScheme filter? That filter acted before we had performed scheme validation; otherwise, the URI would have been filtered out when it was discovered that there was no image scheme. Well, a post-filter is run after scheme specific validation, so it's ideal for bulk post-processing of URIs, including munging. To specify a URI as a post-filter, set the $post member variable to TRUE.

class HTMLPurifier_URIFilter_MyPostFilter extends HTMLPurifier_URIFilter
    public $name = 'MyPostFilter';
    public $post = true;
    // ... extra code here


Check the URIFilter directory for more implementation examples, and see the new directives proposal document for ideas on what could be implemented as a filter.