What does enctype=’multipart/form-data’ mean in a form

HTML forms provide three methods of encoding.

  • application/x-www-form-urlencoded (the default)
  • multipart/form-data
  • text/plain

The specifics of the formats don’t matter to most developers. The important points are:

When you are writing client-side code, all you need to know is use multipart/form-data when your form includes any <input type="file"> elements.

When you are writing server-side code: Use a prewritten form handling library (e.g. Perl’s CGI->paramor the one exposed by PHP’s $_POST superglobal) and it will take care of the differences for you. Don’t bother trying to parse the raw input received by the server.

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