C is a very low-level language by modern definitions. This means that it has
no built-in support for many features that PHP takes for granted, such as
reflection, dynamic module loading, bounds checking, threadsafe data
management and various useful data structures including linked lists and
hash tables. At the same time, C is a common denominator of language support
and functionality. Given enough work, none of these concepts are impossible;
the Zend Engine uses them all.
A lot of effort has gone into making the Zend API both extensible and
understandable, but C forces certain necessary declarations upon any
extension that to an inexperienced eye seem redundant or plain unnecessary.
All of those constructs, detailed in this section, are "write once and
forget" in Zend Engine 2 and 3. Here are some excerpts from the pre-generated
php_counter.h and counter.c files
created by PHP 5.3's ext_skel, showing the pre-generated
The astute reader will notice that there are several declarations in the
real files that aren't shown here. Those declarations are specific to
various Zend subsystems and are discussed elsewhere as appropriate.
extern zend_module_entry counter_module_entry;
#define phpext_counter_ptr &counter_module_entry
# define PHP_COUNTER_API __declspec(dllexport)
#elif defined(__GNUC__) && __GNUC__ >= 4
# define PHP_COUNTER_API __attribute__ ((visibility("default")))
# define PHP_COUNTER_API
/* ... */
The lines concerning counter_module_entry declare a
global variable, and a macroed pointer to it, which contains the
zend_module_entry for the extension. Despite the later
discussion regarding the drawbacks of "true" globals, this usage is
intentional; Zend takes precautions to avoid misusing this variable.
PHP_COUNTER_API is declared for use by non-PHP
functions the module intends to export for the use of other modules. The
counter extension doesn't declare any of these, and in the final version of
the header file, this macro has been removed. The
PHPAPI macro is declared identically elsewhere and is
used by the standard extension to make the phpinfo()
utility functions available to other extensions.
The include of TSRM.h is skipped if PHP, or the
extension, isn't being compiled with thread-safety, since in that case TSRM
A standard list of includes, especially the extension's own
php_counter.h, is given. config.h
gives the extension access to determinations made by
configure. php.h is the gateway to
the entire PHP and Zend APIs. php_ini.h adds the APIs
for runtime configuration (INI) entries. Not all extensions will use this.
Finally, ext/standard/info.h imports the
aforementioned phpinfo() utility API.
COMPILE_DL_COUNTER will only be defined by
configure if the counter extension is both enabled and
wants to be built as a dynamically loadable module instead of being
statically linked into PHP.
ZEND_GET_MODULE defines a
tiny function which Zend can use to get the extension's
zend_module_entry at runtime.
The astute reader who has peeked into
main/php_config.h after trying to build with the
counter module enabled statically may have noticed that there is also a
HAVE_COUNTER constant defined that the source code
doesn't check for. There's a simple reason this check isn't done: It's
unnecessary. If the extension isn't enabled, the source file will never be
Sam at SimpleSamples dot info ¶
7 months ago
Comparing C to PHP is unfair since C++ has so much more than C. You can say that you would have much more if C++ could be used but since it is not you must use what C offers. I am not criticizing PHP but it seems inappropriate to make PHP appear to be better than another language in a misleading way.
Go ahead and delete this if you want to but I hope the documentation is revised appropriately.