I'm trying how to figure out how to use AJAX correctly with Wordpress: (I've used it on other sites, but not in WP)

I have this code in functions.php of a theme:

function jquery_stuff() {
    wp_enqueue_script('scriptname', get_bloginfo('template_url') . '/wibergsweb.js');
add_action( 'init', 'jquery_stuff');

add_action('wp_ajax_locationContent', 'locationContent');

function locationContent() {
    echo 'batman returns';

and this is what the jQuery looks like:

function loadLocationInfo(clickedOn) {   
        var locationId = clickedOn.next().attr('id');

        var locationContent = $.ajax({            
            type: 'POST',
                action: 'locationContent',
                location_id: locationId
            url: "/wp-admin/admin-ajax.php",
            dataType: 'json'

        locationContent.done(function(data) {  

        locationContent.fail(function(ts) {           
            $('body').css('cursor', 'pointer');
            clickedOn.css('cursor', 'pointer');

    $(document).on('click', 'h3', function(e) {
        var tClicked = $(this);

Why is the actual response returned in the fail-function? (Yes, the data is correctly returned. That's the weird part of it).

This is what happens:

1. ERROR is shown in alert-dialog. 
2. The .location-info div is set to 'batman returns'

If I don't have die() in the php like this:

function locationContent() {
    echo 'batman returns';    

Then a 0 is returned BUT that 0 is returned in the done()-function (incorrect data returned at expected place)

Why is the actual response returned in the fail-function and how do I solve this issue? (I can't figure out what's going on here)

  • Is this front-end or back-end? Commented Apr 4, 2014 at 11:12
  • back-end . admin-use only Commented Apr 4, 2014 at 11:47
  • 2
    Well there goes my theory that maybe you needed to be using wp_ajax_nopriv_. On occasion, I have had to go into admin-ajax.php and change the die() messages to give me more of a clue as to where they are failing. Don't forget to undo your changes though as that caused me a major headache once. Commented Apr 4, 2014 at 12:17
  • I just tried that, but still the same issue (in case it was som weird things going on with authentification) Commented Apr 4, 2014 at 12:18
  • Check tutorial for Wordpress: loading more posts via AJAX. Here is the link: github.com/tokmak/wp-load-more-ajax
    – tokmak
    Commented Apr 4, 2014 at 17:17

1 Answer 1


You are specifying the data type returned from the AJAX call to be JSON. However, the string you're returning ("batman begins") is not in JSON-format. Thus, the jQuery ajax-call will fail. Try passing your data as JSON using json_encode:

function locationContent() {
    echo json_encode( 'batman returns' );

This will fix your issue.

Furthermore, I can advise you to prefix your functions and adhere to the WordPress PHP Coding Standards (myplugin_locationcontent instead of locationContent, for example).

  • YES, thank you. It was as simple as that!!! :-) I thought the ajax-hooks were handling this automatically because some tutorials I have read did just put echo 'string' and did not do any json-encoding on the serverside. Thanks a lot! Commented Apr 4, 2014 at 20:03
  • I actually used json_encode in my first attempt, but then I didn't have die() in the end of the ajax-function... therefore the confusion. Commented Apr 4, 2014 at 20:13

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