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is there any way to pass a variable from php into a variable in javascript? or do I need to revert to AJAX to get this done?

I'm assuming you mean javascript and not java. No need for ajax. Something as simple as this:

var myVar = '<?php echo $myvar;?>';
//rest of code

That's just about what I thought it would be, is there anything different I need to do if I need it passed into a function?

Exactly the same:

function myFunc('<?php echo $myvar;?>'){
   var secondVar = '<?php echo $myvar2;?>';

However, I assume that a js variable would be passed to the function as a parameter, so it would be best to apply the php value to the var instead.

What you can't do is evaluate js vars with php in the middle of a script - for that you would need ajax.

Another side note: you may need to force data typing on js vars, such as parseInt(), as errors can often occur without an obvious cause.

is it posible to put information from a database into an array in javascript?

Of course. I usually find passing data to js easier via json as it saves a lot of hassle with looping and all that nonsense.

For example:

while($data = mysql_fetch_assoc($result)){
    $dbdata[] = $data;
$json = json_encode($dbdata);

<!--later on-->

var myJson = <?php echo $json;?>; 
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