h2xs - convert .h C header files to Perl extensions
h2xs [-ACOPXacdfkmx] [-F addflags] [-M fmask] [-n module_name] [-o
tmask] [-p prefix] [-s subs] [-v version] [headerfile ...
h2xs builds a Perl extension from C header files. The extension will
include functions which can be used to retrieve the value of any
#define statement which was in the C header files.
The module_name will be used for the name of the extension. If module_name
is not supplied then the name of the first header file will be
used, with the first character capitalized.
If the extension might need extra libraries, they should be included
here. The extension Makefile.PL will take care of checking whether the
libraries actually exist and how they should be loaded. The extra
libraries should be specified in the form -lm -lposix, etc, just as on
the cc command line. By default, the Makefile.PL will search through
the library path determined by Configure. That path can be augmented
by including arguments of the form -L/another/library/path in the
-A Omit all autoload facilities. This is the same as -c but also
removes the "use AutoLoader" statement from the .pm file.
-C Omits creation of the Changes file, and adds a HISTORY section to
the POD template.
Additional flags to specify to C preprocessor when scanning header
for function declarations. Should not be used without -x.
-M regular expression
selects functions/macros to process.
-O Allows a pre-existing extension directory to be overwritten.
-P Omit the autogenerated stub POD section.
-X Omit the XS portion. Used to generate templates for a module
which is not XS-based. "-c" and "-f" are implicitly enabled.
-a Generate an accessor method for each element of structs and
unions. The generated methods are named after the element name;
will return the current value of the element if called without
additional arguments; and will set the element to the supplied
value (and return the new value) if called with an additional
argument. Embedded structures and unions are returned as a pointer
rather than the complete structure, to facilitate chained calls.
These methods all apply to the Ptr type for the structure; additionally
two methods are constructed for the structure type
itself, "_to_ptr" which returns a Ptr type pointing to the same
structure, and a "new" method to construct and return a new structure,
initialised to zeroes.
-c Omit "constant()" from the .xs file and corresponding specialised
"AUTOLOAD" from the .pm file.
-d Turn on debugging messages.
-f Allows an extension to be created for a header even if that header
is not found in standard include directories.
-h Print the usage, help and version for this h2xs and exit.
-k For function arguments declared as "const", omit the const
attribute in the generated XS code.
-m Experimental: for each variable declared in the header file(s),
declare a perl variable of the same name magically tied to the C
Specifies a name to be used for the extension, e.g., -n RPC::DCE
-o regular expression
Use "opaque" data type for the C types matched by the regular
expression, even if these types are "typedef"-equivalent to types
from typemaps. Should not be used without -x.
This may be useful since, say, types which are "typedef"-equivalent
to integers may represent OS-related handles, and one may
want to work with these handles in OO-way, as in "$handle->do_something()".
Use "-o ." if you want to handle all the
"typedef"ed types as opaque types.
The type-to-match is whitewashed (except for commas, which have no
whitespace before them, and multiple "*" which have no whitespace
Specify a prefix which should be removed from the Perl function
names, e.g., -p sec_rgy_ This sets up the XS PREFIX keyword and
removes the prefix from functions that are autoloaded via the
Create a perl subroutine for the specified macros rather than
autoload with the constant() subroutine. These macros are assumed
to have a return type of char *, e.g., -s sec_rgy_wildcard_name,sec_rgy_wildcard_sid.
Specify a version number for this extension. This version number
is added to the templates. The default is 0.01.
-x Automatically generate XSUBs basing on function declarations in
the header file. The package "C::Scan" should be installed. If
this option is specified, the name of the header file may look
like "NAME1,NAME2". In this case NAME1 is used instead of the
specified string, but XSUBs are emitted only for the declarations
included from file NAME2.
Note that some types of arguments/return-values for functions may
result in XSUB-declarations/typemap-entries which need hand-editing.
Such may be objects which cannot be converted from/to a
pointer (like "long long"), pointers to functions, or arrays. See
also the section on "LIMITATIONS of -x".
Generates a .pm file which is backwards compatible with the specified
For versions < 5.6.0, the changes are.
- no use of 'our' (uses 'use vars' instead)
- no 'use warnings'
Specifying a compatibility version higher than the version of perl
you are using to run h2xs will have no effect.
# Default behavior, extension is Rusers
# Same, but extension is RUSERS
h2xs -n RUSERS rpcsvc/rusers
# Extension is rpcsvc::rusers. Still finds <rpcsvc/rusers.h>
# Extension is ONC::RPC. Still finds <rpcsvc/rusers.h>
h2xs -n ONC::RPC rpcsvc/rusers
# Without constant() or AUTOLOAD
h2xs -c rpcsvc/rusers
# Creates templates for an extension named RPC
h2xs -cfn RPC
# Extension is ONC::RPC.
h2xs -cfn ONC::RPC
# Makefile.PL will look for library -lrpc in
# additional directory /opt/net/lib
h2xs rpcsvc/rusers -L/opt/net/lib -lrpc
# Extension is DCE::rgynbase
# prefix "sec_rgy_" is dropped from perl function names
h2xs -n DCE::rgynbase -p sec_rgy_ dce/rgynbase
# Extension is DCE::rgynbase
# prefix "sec_rgy_" is dropped from perl function names
# subroutines are created for sec_rgy_wildcard_name and sec_rgy_wildcard_sid
h2xs -n DCE::rgynbase -p sec_rgy_ \
-s sec_rgy_wildcard_name,sec_rgy_wildcard_sid dce/rgynbase
# Make XS without defines in perl.h, but with function declarations
# visible from perl.h. Name of the extension is perl1.
# When scanning perl.h, define -DEXT=extern -DdEXT= -DINIT(x)=
# Extra backslashes below because the string is passed to shell.
# Note that a directory with perl header files would
# be added automatically to include path.
h2xs -xAn perl1 -F "-DEXT=extern -DdEXT= -DINIT\(x\)=" perl.h
# Same with function declaration in proto.h as visible from perl.h.
h2xs -xAn perl2 perl.h,proto.h
# Same but select only functions which match /^av_/
h2xs -M '^av_' -xAn perl2 perl.h,proto.h
# Same but treat SV* etc as "opaque" types
h2xs -o '^[S]V \*$' -M '^av_' -xAn perl2 perl.h,proto.h
Extension based on .h and .c files
Suppose that you have some C files implementing some functionality, and
the corresponding header files. How to create an extension which makes
this functionality accessable in Perl? The example below assumes that
the header files are interface_simple.h and interface_hairy.h, and you
want the perl module be named as "Ext::Ension". If you need some preprocessor
directives and/or linking with external libraries, see the
flags "-F", "-L" and "-l" in "OPTIONS".
Find the directory name
Start with a dummy run of h2xs:
h2xs -Afn Ext::Ension
The only purpose of this step is to create the needed directories,
and let you know the names of these directories. From the output
you can see that the directory for the extension is Ext/Ension.
Copy C files
Copy your header files and C files to this directory Ext/Ension.
Create the extension
Run h2xs, overwriting older autogenerated files:
h2xs -Oxan Ext::Ension interface_simple.h interface_hairy.h
h2xs looks for header files after changing to the extension directory,
so it will find your header files OK.
Archive and test
As usual, run
It is important to do "make dist" as early as possible. This way
you can easily merge(1) your changes to autogenerated files if you
decide to edit your ".h" files and rerun h2xs.
Do not forget to edit the documentation in the generated .pm file.
Consider the autogenerated files as skeletons only, you may invent
better interfaces than what h2xs could guess.
Consider this section as a guideline only, some other options of
h2xs may better suit your needs.
No environment variables are used.
Larry Wall and others
perl, perlxstut, ExtUtils::MakeMaker, and AutoLoader.
The usual warnings if it cannot read or write the files involved.
h2xs would not distinguish whether an argument to a C function which is
of the form, say, "int *", is an input, output, or input/output parameter.
In particular, argument declarations of the form
should be better rewritten as
if "n" is an input parameter.
Additionally, h2xs has no facilities to intuit that a function
takes a pair of address and length of data at this address, so it is
better to rewrite this function as
s = SvPV(sv,len);
RETVAL = foo(s, len);
char *s = SvPV(sv,len);
return foo(s, len);
MODULE = foo PACKAGE = foo PREFIX = my_
See perlxs and perlxstut for additional details.
3rd Berkeley Distribution 2004-12-24 H2XS(1)
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