Dynamically Change Width and Height in embed code

In a recent project I was working on we had to allow the client to embed videos within the site. This had to be done using an easy-to-use customized CMS. The thought is that they can take the embed code right off the YouTube site and save it to the DB for use throughout the site.

YouTube’s default dimensions for a video are 480 x 295, but what if you need a different size of video? Obviously we don’t want to have the client fiddling around with the embed code changing the width and height attributes; so this is where I turned to using regular expressions in PHP. Take a look!

Let’s pretend the following source is what we would like to modify and it is stored in a $youtube variable:

$youtube = <<<EOF
<object width="480" height="295">
<param name="movie"
<param name="allowFullScreen" value="true"></param>
<param name="allowscriptaccess" value="always"></param>
<embed src="http://www.youtube.com/v/Xq-HRHMEmfg&hl=en&fs=1"
type="application/x-shockwave-flash" allowscriptaccess="always"
allowfullscreen="true" width="480" height="295"></embed>

Fixing the Problem

How can we change the width and height attributes throughout this code? There are probably numerous ways, but none quite as easy as using regular expressions. If you are unfamiliar with the basics of regular expressions I suggest checking out Regular-Expressions.info.

A PHP function that makes use of regular expressions is “preg_replace”. It allows you to use regular expressions to replace whatever matches. More details on the function can be found at PHP.NET

Creating The Function

We will be creating a function that allows you to resize any mark-up and not just YouTube videos. It will allow you to modify an elements width and height attributes as well as changes any inline styling. Below is what we get:

function resizeMarkup($markup, $dimensions)
$w = $dimensions['width'];
$h = $dimensions['height'];

$patterns = array();
$replacements = array();
if( !empty($w) )
$patterns[] = '/width="([0-9]+)"/';
$patterns[] = '/width:([0-9]+)/';

$replacements[] = 'width="'.$w.'"';
$replacements[] = 'width:'.$w;

if( !empty($h) )
$patterns[] = '/height="([0-9]+)"/';
$patterns[] = '/height:([0-9]+)/';

$replacements[] = 'height="'.$h.'"';
$replacements[] = 'height:'.$h;

return preg_replace($patterns, $replacements, $markup);

The most difficult part of the above to understand is probably the ([0-9]+) part. Let me break it down:

  1. () – wrap the value that we want to replace
  2. [0-9] – any number between and including 0 and 9
  3. + – one or more occurrences

Using the function:

We can then dynamically change the size based on the query string (?width=228&height=178)

$width = intval($_GET['width']);
$height = intval($_GET['height']);

$youtube = resizeMarkup($youtube, array(
echo $youtube;

Another little feature I should quickly point out is that you don’t have to pass both height and width. For example if you want a div to dynamically change its width but stay a fixed height (YouTube caption), you can do the following:

$width = intval($_GET['width']);

$caption = <<<EOF
<div style="background:#F8EBD7;border:1px solid
commandN Episode #170

$caption = resizeMarkup($caption, array(
echo $caption;

In this case, the div will remain 50px high but its width will be changed by the query string (?width=228)


We now have a re-usable function that allows us to use many different sizes of the same YouTube clip without making the client tinker with any code!

Author: Brenley Dueck



  1. Joern said,

    December 21, 2009 at 12:46 pm

    Thank you for this code, it’s working great. Actually I am pulling the _oembed_.. meta value of a post in WordPress 2.9 and use your code in functions.php to resize the html code saved by WordPress in the postmeta table.

  2. Sander said,

    January 22, 2010 at 3:57 pm

    Thanks man, really usefull.

  3. JamesDX said,

    February 15, 2010 at 9:03 am

    Anyone know how to do things like this?

    • Chandra Sekar Vinod Kumar said,

      February 15, 2010 at 10:15 am

      could u plz explain what u want?

  4. sajjadul said,

    March 6, 2010 at 5:18 am

    Thanks for this. I am using this into this theme for fixing embedded flash video’s size. A demo here:

  5. October 16, 2010 at 12:18 pm

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  6. Rod said,

    December 26, 2010 at 8:30 pm

    Doesn’t work for me … what a pity :/ it seem’s i’m a lonely case.

  7. January 2, 2011 at 4:02 pm

    […] Dynamically Change Width and Height in embed code August 2009 5 comments […]

  8. mark said,

    January 7, 2011 at 4:19 am

    super script….

  9. Amr said,

    April 18, 2011 at 11:21 am

    Thank you very much for this great and very useful function. It works great.

  10. July 22, 2011 at 2:05 pm

    thanks a lot for this, really helpful.

  11. Ranganath said,

    July 27, 2011 at 6:20 am

    Thanks for the code. This is what I was looking for. Works great.

  12. alaa ebrahim said,

    September 8, 2011 at 1:28 pm

    Thx alot its working Well 🙂
    i had the same code but i had an error that i didnt identified the variable as an array
    thx again.

  13. manisha said,

    December 21, 2011 at 10:25 am

    thanks,i ahve done this…

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