How to create custom PHP extension?

Required Tools

In order to create custom PHP extension, requires the following build tools
  • C/C++ compiler (For example, GCC).
  • phpize which is a shell script to prepare PHP extension for compiling.
  • php-config which is a simple shell script for obtaining information about the installed PHP configuration.
On RPM based systems, required packages can be installed using following command:
$ yum install gcc php php-devel

On Debian based systems, required packages can be installed using following command:
$ apt-get install gcc php php5-dev

Create config.m4 file 

PHP_ARG_ENABLE(my_extension, whether to enable my extension, 
[ --enable-my-extension Enable my extension])
if test "$PHP_MY_EXTENSION" = "yes"; then
 AC_DEFINE(HAVE_MY_EXTENSION, 1, [Whether you have my extension])
 PHP_NEW_EXTENSION(my_extension, my_custom_extension.c, $ext_shared)

The config.m4 file for an extension tells the UNIX build system 
  • what configure options your extension supports
  • what external libraries and includes you require
  • what source your require

This config.m4 stores the basic configuration data used by the PHP 
to compile your custom extension.

Create my_custom_extension.c 


#include "config.h"
#include "php.h"

#define PHP_MY_EXTENSION_EXTNAME "my_extension"

extern zend_module_entry my_extension_module_entry;
#define phpext_my_extension_ptr &my_extension_module_entry
// declaration of a custom my_function()
// list of custom PHP functions provided by this extension
// set {NULL, NULL, NULL} as the last record to mark the end of list
static function_entry my_functions[] = {
PHP_FE(my_function, NULL)

// the following code creates an entry for the module and registers it with Zend.
zend_module_entry my_extension_module_entry = {
#if ZEND_MODULE_API_NO >= 20010901
NULL, // name of the MINIT function or NULL if not applicable
NULL, // name of the MSHUTDOWN function or NULL if not applicable
NULL, // name of the RINIT function or NULL if not applicable
NULL, // name of the RSHUTDOWN function or NULL if not applicable
NULL, // name of the MINFO function or NULL if not applicable
#if ZEND_MODULE_API_NO >= 20010901
// implementation of a custom my_function()
PHP_FUNCTION(my_function) {
RETURN_STRING("A line from my custom php extension", 1);

Building the extension

$ phpize
$ ./configure
$ make install
  • The phpize command will generate additional configuration  files, required to compile your PHP extension 
  • you can reverse this process anytime by typing the “phpize –clean” command
  • After running each of these commands, you should have a file in PHP extensions directory.
If don’t know the name of that directory, you can check it’s name by typing:
$ php-config | grep extension-dir

Configure php.ini

The last thing you need to do, is to add the following line to your php.ini to load your extension on PHP startup:

Testing the extension

You can test your PHP extension by typing the following command:
$ php -r "echo my_function();"

If everything was fine, the output will be:
A line from my custom php extension


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