Thursday, November 1, 2012

Building the PHP extension for Couchbase on Microsoft Windows!

I've got a pretty good background from doing cross platform work. My first job as a software developer was to port a system to Trusted Solaris (and add privilege bracketing), but I've been porting stuff to Windows, HP-UX, Linux etc to name a few later on. It is important to me that the software should be portable, and that was one of the fixed requirement I had when I started libcouchbase back in the days.

Two days ago I sat down with Matt planning what I should focus on for the SDK team, and we both felt that we had to give the Windows support for some of our projects a makeover. Given PHPs popularity I figured that I should start with that.

I was kind of surprised to see how easy it was to build PHP with support for Couchbase on windows, but relax; we are going to ship binary versions for you so that you won't have to do this yourself, but being a geek I thought you might find it interesting to read how to do it yourself.

The first thing you have to do is to get set up a development environment. I initially used the description from PHP wiki, with some minor modifications. Feel free to use the steps outlined in that link, but I'll this is however how I did it. First I installed the following software:

  • Windows server 2008 r2
  • Visual studio 2008 professional
  • Windows SDK 6.1
  • git source control system
  • winrar

With that installed, you can open up a "windows sdk" shell, and get execute the following commands:

setenv /x86 /xp /release
mkdir c:\php-sdk

By using winrar I then extracted the into that directory. I could then create the directories and get ready to build the source.

cd c:\php-sdk
bin\phpsdk_buildtree.bat php-src

Start up a "git-bash shell", and navigate to c:\php-src\vc9\x86, and check out the code. Unfortunately this won't work as of today for you because not all of the patches for the source code have been pushed through yet:

git clone git://
git clone git://
cd php-src/ext
git clone git:// couchbase

We're now ready to build the source! The first thing we need to do is to build libcouchbase (the C library that provides the functionality to talk to the Couchbase cluster):

cd libcouchbase
nmake -f NMakefile all install

With that installed we're ready to build the PHP module that expose the PHP functionality:

cd ..\php-src
configure --disable-all --enable-cli --with-couchbase=shared
nmake all install
copy ../deps/bin/libcouchbase.dll c:\php

As you see I'm disabling all other modules than the Couchbase plugin (and I'm making that as a shared object). You would have to populate the "deps" directory with other libraries if you wanted to add support for them (but that's beyond the intention of this blog post).

So let's go ahead and try our new php extension. If you don't have a Couchbase cluster running already, now is the time to install one :) With the Couchbase cluster running, you can create a simple php.ini file that tells php to load our module:


I'm pretty sure you all know PHP way better than me, so please forgive me for the stupid code we'll use to show that it's working. I created the file test.php with the following content:

   $cb = new Couchbase("","","","default");
   $cb->set("hello", "world");

Running the program with:

cd c:\php
php -f test.php

Should print out:

string(5) "world"

Thats all for this time! Happy hacking!

Shift of focus!

I really like going to conferences, not necessarily because I want to attend the different sessions, but because its a great arena to meet up with users and people interested in the same stuff as I am. Yesterday I attended CouchConf in Berlin, which was a lot of fun. I got to meet old friends, people I've only talked to on IRC (so fun to get a face behind the nick) and new people!

As part of attending CouchConf I spent some time talking to Matt Ingenthron about our SDKs, so I'm happy to announce that as of today I'm going to spend a significant amount of time working on our clients. Up until now I've done most of my contributions to the clients on my spare time, so I'm really looking forward to be able to spend my entire day trying to make your life easier.