Explore some of the less well known PECL extensions by example

The Power of PECL
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Most PHP developers have heard of it, some have actually used it and a select few have even contributed to it. Yes, I am talking about that mystical place where C meets PHP – PECL. Now before we go too far down the line, it is pronounced pickle and not peekal or was it just me that got this mixed up?

PECL or the PHP Extension Community Library was created back in 2003 to help distinguish between PHP extensions and PEAR PHP libraries. Libraries are distributed as userland PHP code whereas extensions are written in C or C++ and add functionality to PHP’s core. This link can easily be seen in the similarity of the command line tools and packaging systems for both PEAR and PECL.

The close link between extensions and core PHP code can be seen in PHP’s history during which some extensions have been merged into the core or split into separate extensions. An example of this process is the PDO extension that was subsumed by the core in PHP 5.1. Whilst PDO remains in PECL it is marked as superseded, but remains for historical reference and in older versions of PHP.

Generally well maintained and stable PECL extensions will have full documentation in the PHP manual, which will include example code, installation and requirements information.

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