How to populate a dropdown menu from database in CodeIgniter [Workaround]

If you happened to work with the ‘form_validation’ library and dropdown lists, and had to populate the default value from database, I am sure you would have come across this issue too. I’ve been having this issue for the past couple of days and found a workaround to tackle the issue.  Thought this would help you too in your projects.



  • You have a form with multiple form elements such as textbox, dropdowns, etc…
  • You have to pass in some defaults from the database to take its initial values.
  • After the form filling the user submits the form but unfortunately it happens to have errors.
  • Now you have to ignore the defaults you initially had and prompt the user with the values they entered before they failed the form submission.

Note: At this point the dropdown should populate with all the values but it should select NOT its default value but the selection user made before they submitted.



  • Get the defaults from the database.
  • Generate the array of dropdown list items.
  • Add the workaround function that will swap the default and the last submitted value.






$this->form_validation->set_rules(‘states’, ‘State’, ‘required|trim’);

if ($this->form_validation->run() == TRUE)          {



function get_states($mode = false,$content){

$this->db->select(‘abv, states’);

$this->db->order_by(“states”, “asc”);

$q = $this->db->get(‘states’);


$data[‘ ‘] = $content;


foreach ($q->result_array() as $row) {

$data{$row[‘abv’]} = $row[‘status’];


return $data;



// Workaround function which will swap the default value

function set_my_defaults($item,$default) {


return set_value($item);


else {

return $default;


$default = ‘NY’ ; // Initial default value you get from a database or hard code

$states = $this->my_model->get_states(true,’Please Select’);

$selected = set_my_defaults(‘state’,$default);

echo form_dropdown(‘state’,$states,$selected,’class=”dropdown_style”‘);


Hope this will work for you too. If you find a better way to implement this or have any question please feel free to leave a comment.

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3 thoughts on “How to populate a dropdown menu from database in CodeIgniter [Workaround]”

  1. Jaiveek says:

    What we have to include in this..????? plss let me know.

    if ($this->form_validation->run() == TRUE)


    1. Well.. That section will be executed if you have a successful form submission.

      As an example you can have something like this;

      if ($this->form_validation->run() == TRUE)
      $data = array( ‘states’ => $this->input->post( ‘states’));
      $id = $this->session->userdata(‘UserID);

      $this->db->where(‘id’, $id);
      $this->db->update(‘users’, $data);

  2. banjo says:

    Hmh, can you help me if i want some static word into dropdown like a name of category and than you can chose betwen items in categorys?

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