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Inline::C::Cookbook - A Cornucopia of Inline C Recipes


It's a lot easier for most of us to cook a meal from a recipe, rather than just throwing things into a pot until something edible forms. So it is with programming as well. makes C programming for Perl as easy as possible. Having a set of easy to understand samples, makes it simpler yet.

This Cookbook is intended to be an evergrowing repository of small yet complete coding examples; each showing how to accomplish a particular task with Inline. Each example is followed by a short discussion, explaining in detail the particular features that are being demonstrated.

Many of these recipes are adapted from email discussions I have had with Inline users around the world. It has been my experience so far, that Inline provides an elegant solution to almost all problems involving Perl and C.

Bon Appetit!


Hello, world


It seems that the first thing any programmer wants to do when he learns a new programming technique is to use it to greet the Earth. How can I do this using Inline?

    use Inline C => <<'...';

    void greet() {
      printf("Hello, world\n");


Nothing too fancy here. We define a single C function greet() which prints a message to STDOUT. One thing to note is that since the Inline code comes before the function call to greet, we can call it as a bareword (no parentheses).

See Also

See Inline and Inline::C for basic info about

  • Brian Kernigan

  • Dennis Ritchie

One Liner


A concept is valid in Perl only if it can be shown to work in one line. Can Inline reduce the complexities of Perl/C interaction to a one-liner?

    perl -e 'use Inline C=>q{void greet(){printf("Hello, world\n");}};greet'

Try doing that in XS :-)

See Also

My email signature of late is:

    perl -le 'use Inline C=>q{SV*JAxH(char*x){return newSVpvf("Just Another %s Hacker",x);}};print JAxH+Perl'

A bit fancier but a few bytes too long to qualify as a true one liner :-(


"Eli the Bearded" <> gave me the idea that I should have an Inline one-liner as a signature.


Data Types


How do I pass different types of data to and from Inline C functions; like strings, numbers and integers?

    use Inline 'C';

    $filename = $ARGV[0];
    die "Usage: perl filename\n" unless -f $filename;

    $text = join '', <>;           # slurp input file
    $vp = vowel_scan($text);       # call our function
    $vp = sprintf("%03.1f", $vp * 100);  # format for printing
    print "The letters in $filename are $vp% vowels.\n";


    /* Find percentage of vowels to letters */
    double vowel_scan(char* str) {
      int letters = 0;
      int vowels = 0;
      int i = 0;
      char c;
      char normalize = 'a' ^ 'A';
      /* normalize forces lower case in ASCII; upper in EBCDIC */
      char A = normalize | 'a';
      char E = normalize | 'e';
      char I = normalize | 'i';
      char O = normalize | 'o';
      char U = normalize | 'u';
      char Z = normalize | 'z';

      while(c = str[i++]) {
        c |= normalize;
        if (c >= A && c <= Z) {
           if (c == A || c == E || c == I || c == O || c == U)

      return letters ? ((double) vowels / letters) : 0.0;

This script takes a file name from the command line and prints the ratio of vowels to letters in that file. uses an Inline C function called vowel_scan, that takes a string argument, and returns the percentage of vowels as a floating point number between 0 and 1. It handles upper and lower case letters, and works with ASCII and EBCDIC. It is also quite fast.

Running this script produces:

    > perl /usr/dict/words
    The letters in /usr/dict/words are 37.5% vowels.

It is very important to note that the examples in this cookbook use char * to mean a string. Internally Perl has various mechanisms to deal with strings that contain characters with code points above 255, using Unicode. This means that naively treating strings as char *, an array of 8-bit characters, can lead to problems. You need to be aware of this and consider using a UTF-8 library to deal with strings.

See Also

The Perl Journal vol #19 has an article about Inline which uses this example.


This example was reprinted by permission of The Perl Journal. It was edited to work with Inline v0.30 and higher.

Variable Argument Lists


How do I pass a variable-sized list of arguments to an Inline C function?

    greet(qw(Sarathy Jan Sparky Murray Mike));

    use Inline C => <<'END_OF_C_CODE';

    void greet(SV* name1, ...) {
      int i;

      for (i = 0; i < Inline_Stack_Items; i++)
        printf("Hello %s!\n", SvPV(Inline_Stack_Item(i), PL_na));



This little program greets a group of people, such as my coworkers. We use the C ellipsis syntax: "...", since the list can be of any size.

Since there are no types or names associated with each argument, we can't expect XS to handle the conversions for us. We'll need to pop them off the Stack ourselves. Luckily there are two functions (macros) that make this a very easy task.

First, we need to begin our function with a "Inline_Stack_Vars" statement. This defines a few internal variables that we need to access the Stack. Now we can use "Inline_Stack_Items", which returns an integer containing the number of arguments passed to us from Perl.

NOTE: It is important to only use "Inline_Stack_" macros when there is an ellipsis (...) in the argument list, or the function has a return type of void.

Second, we use the Inline_Stack_Item(x) function to access each argument where "0 <= x < items".

NOTE: When using a variable length argument list, you have to specify at least one argument before the ellipsis. (On my compiler, anyway.) When XS does it's argument checking, it will complain if you pass in less than the number of defined arguments. Therefore, there is currently no way to pass an empty list when a variable length list is expected.

See Also

Multiple Return Values


How do I return a list of values from a C function?

    print map {"$_\n"} get_localtime(time);

    use Inline C => <<'END_OF_C_CODE';

    #include <time.h>

    void get_localtime(SV * utc) {
      const time_t utc_ = (time_t)SvIV(utc);
      struct tm *ltime = localtime(&utc_);


Perl is a language where it is common to return a list of values from a subroutine call instead of just a single value. C is not such a language. In order to accomplish this in C we need to manipulate the Perl call stack by hand. Luckily, Inline provides macros to make this easy.

This example calls the system localtime, and returns each of the parts of the time struct; much like the perl builtin localtime(). On each stack push, we are creating a new Perl integer (SVIV) and mortalizing it. The sv_2mortal() call makes sure that the reference count is set properly. Without it, the program would leak memory.

NOTE: The #include statement is not really needed, because Inline automatically includes the Perl headers which include almost all standard system calls.

See Also

For more information on the Inline stack macros, see Inline::C.


Richard Anderson <> contributed the original idea for this snippet.

Multiple Return Values (Another Way)


How can I pass back more than one value without using the Perl Stack?

    use Inline::Files;
    use Inline 'C';

    my ($foo, $bar);
    change($foo, $bar);

    print "\$foo = $foo\n";
    print "\$bar = $bar\n";


    int change(SV* var1, SV* var2) {
      sv_setpvn(var1, "Perl Rocks!", 11);
      sv_setpvn(var2, "Inline Rules!", 13);
      return 1;

Most perl function interfaces return values as a list of one or more scalars. Very few like chomp, will modify an input scalar in place. On the other hand, in C you do this quite often. Values are passed in by reference and modified in place by the called function.

It turns out that we can do that with Inline as well. The secret is to use a type of 'SV*' for each argument that is to be modified. This ensures passing by reference, because no typemapping is needed.

The function can then use the Perl5 API to operate on that argument. When control returns to Perl, the argument will retain the value set by the C function. In this example we passed in 2 empty scalars and assigned values directly to them.

See Also

Ned Konz <> brought this behavior to my attention. He also pointed out that he is not the world famous computer cyclist Steve Roberts ( ), but he is close ( ). Thanks Ned.

Taking an array-ref as an argument


How can I take a Perl array-ref as an argument in my C function?

    SV *sum(SV *array) {
        int total = 0;
        int numelts, i;
        if ((!SvROK(array))
            || (SvTYPE(SvRV(array)) != SVt_PVAV)
            || ((numelts = av_len((AV *)SvRV(array))) < 0)
        ) {
            return &PL_sv_undef;
        for (i = 0; i <= numelts; i++) {
            total += SvIV(*av_fetch((AV *)SvRV(array), i, 0));
        return newSViv(total);

This example returns undef if given a non-ref, or a non-array-ref, or a ref to an empty array. You can see how you might expand this to take more than one array-ref.

Using Memory


How should I allocate buffers in my Inline C code?

    print greeting('Ingy');

    use Inline C => <<'END_OF_C_CODE';

    SV* greeting(SV* sv_name) {
      return (newSVpvf("Hello %s!\n", SvPV(sv_name, PL_na)));


In this example we will return the greeting to the caller, rather than printing it. This would seem mighty easy, except for the fact that we need to allocate a small buffer to create the greeting.

I would urge you to stay away from mallocing your own buffer. Just use Perl's built in memory management. In other words, just create a new Perl string scalar. The function newSVpv does just that. And newSVpvf includes sprintf functionality.

The other problem is getting rid of this new scalar. How will the ref count get decremented after we pass the scalar back? Perl also provides a function called sv_2mortal. Mortal variables die when the context goes out of scope. In other words, Perl will wait until the new scalar gets passed back and then decrement the ref count for you, thereby making it eligible for garbage collection. See perldoc perlguts.

In this example the sv_2mortal call gets done under the hood by XS, because we declared the return type to be SV*.

To view the generated XS code, run the command "perl -MInline=INFO,FORCE,NOCLEAN". This will leave the build directory intact and tell you where to find it.

See Also

Direct Access to Perl variables


Can I write an Inline C function that can access a Perl variable directly without having to pass it as an argument?

    use strict;
    use warnings;
    use Inline C => "DATA";

    our $mesh_data = "MESH-POINTS 0.0 0.0 0.5 0.25 1.0 0.5 1.5 0.75";

    #define N_MP 4

    void CalcSurfaceHeights() {
       double x[N_MP], y[N_MP], z;
       int    ix;
       char   *mesh_data = SvPV_nolen(get_sv("main::mesh_data", 0));

       sscanf(mesh_data, "MESH-POINTS %lf%lf%lf%lf%lf%lf%lf%lf",
                         x, y, x+1, y+1, x+2, y+2, x+3, y+3);

       for (ix=0; ix < N_MP; ix++) {
          z = 0.5*( sin(x[ix]) + sin(y[ix]) );

          printf("Surface-Height: %6.3f Mesh-Point: %6.2f, %6.2f\n",
                 z, x[ix], y[ix]);

There are really only two points that need an explanation to understand why the above code works. In the Perl section, you will notice the declaration

    our $mesh_data = "...";

For Perl variables to be directly accessible from Inline::C functions, they must be declared as package variables. Lexical variables, those declared with my, cannot be accessed this way.

In the C code section of the example, the following line is what makes direct access to the Perl variable work;

    char *mesh_data = SvPV_nolen(get_sv("main::mesh_data", 0))

Here SvPV_nolen() returns a pointer to the C string contained in the scalar variable. The "_nolen" variation ignores the length of the C string. Hence, the function takes only a single argument, which is the SV* of the scalar variable.

We could have used the usual two-argument form of SvPV() and, since we don't care about the string length, specified PL_na for the second argument. The function call would then change to,

    SvPV(get_sv("main::mesh_data", 0), PL_na)

The function get_sv() returns the SV* of a named scalar package variable. It takes a C string, containing the fully qualified name of the variable, as the first argument. The second argument contains flag values related to data type. Since we are only reading the scalar variable, in our example, a value of 0 can be used.

See Also
  • perldoc perlguts

  • perldoc perlapi


The code example and description were inspired by a discussion thread on the Inline mailing list (


Inline CGI


How do I use Inline securely in a CGI environment?


    use CGI qw(:standard);
    use Inline Config =>
      DIRECTORY => '/usr/local/apache/Inline';

      start_html('Inline CGI Example'),

    use Inline C => <<END;
    SV* JAxH(char* x) {
      return newSVpvf("Just Another %s Hacker", x);

The problem with running Inline code from a CGI script is that Inline writes to a build area on your disk whenever it compiles code. Most CGI scripts don't (and shouldn't) be able to create a directory and write into it.

The solution is to explicitly tell Inline which directory to use with the 'use Inline Config => DIRECTORY => ...' line. Then you need to give write access to that directory from the web server (CGI script).

If you see this as a security hole, then there is another option. Give write access to yourself, but read-only access to the CGI script. Then run the script once by hand (from the command line). This will cause Inline to precompile the C code. That way the CGI will only need read access to the build directory (to load in the shared library from there).

Just remember that whenever you change the C code, you need to precompile it again.

See Also

See CGI for more information on using the module.




How do I use Inline with mod_perl?

    package Factorial;
    use strict;
    use Inline Config =>
               DIRECTORY => '/usr/local/apache/Inline',
               enable => 'UNTAINT';
    use Inline 'C';

    sub handler {
      my $r = shift;
      printf "%3d! = %10d\n", $_, factorial($_) for 1..100;
      return Apache::Constants::OK;

    double factorial(double x) {
      if (x < 2) return 1;
      return x * factorial(x - 1)

This is a fully functional mod_perl handler that prints out the factorial values for the numbers 1 to 100. Since we are using Inline under mod_perl, there are a few considerations to , um, consider.

First, mod_perl handlers are usually run with -T taint detection. Therefore, we need to enable the UNTAINT option. The next thing to deal with is the fact that this handler will most likely be loaded after Perl's compile time. Since we are using the DATA section, we need to use the special init() call. And of course we need to specify a DIRECTORY that mod_perl can compile into. See the above CGI example for more info.

Other than that, this is a pretty straightforward mod_perl handler, tuned for even more speed!

See Also

See Stas Bekman's upcoming O'Reilly book on mod_perl to which this example was contributed.

Object Oriented Inline


How do I implement Object Oriented programming in Perl using C objects?

    my $obj1 = Soldier->new('Benjamin', 'Private', 11111);
    my $obj2 = Soldier->new('Sanders', 'Colonel', 22222);
    my $obj3 = Soldier->new('Matt', 'Sergeant', 33333);

    for my $obj ($obj1, $obj2, $obj3) {
      print $obj->get_serial, ") ",
            $obj->get_name, " is a ",
            $obj->get_rank, "\n";


    package Soldier;

    use Inline C => <<'END';

    Allocate memory with Newx if it's
    available - if it's an older perl
    that doesn't have Newx then we
    resort to using New.
    #ifndef Newx
    #  define Newx(v,n,t) New(0,v,n,t)

    typedef struct {
      char* name;
      char* rank;
      long  serial;
    } Soldier;

    SV* new(const char * classname, const char * name,
            const char * rank, long serial) {
      Soldier * soldier;
      SV      * obj;
      SV      * obj_ref;

      Newx(soldier, 1, Soldier);
      soldier->name = savepv(name);
      soldier->rank = savepv(rank);
      soldier->serial = serial;

      obj = newSViv((IV)soldier);
      obj_ref = newRV_noinc(obj);
      sv_bless(obj_ref, gv_stashpv(classname, GV_ADD));

      return obj_ref;

    char* get_name(SV* obj) {
      return ((Soldier*)SvIV(SvRV(obj)))->name;

    char* get_rank(SV* obj) {
      return ((Soldier*)SvIV(SvRV(obj)))->rank;

    long get_serial(SV* obj) {
      return ((Soldier*)SvIV(SvRV(obj)))->serial;

    void DESTROY(SV* obj) {
      Soldier* soldier = (Soldier*)SvIV(SvRV(obj));


Damian Conway has given us myriad ways of implementing OOP in Perl. This is one he might not have thought of.

The interesting thing about this example is that it uses Perl for all the OO bindings while using C for the attributes and methods.

If you examine the Perl code everything looks exactly like a regular OO example. There is a new method and several accessor methods. The familiar 'arrow syntax' is used to invoke them.

In the class definition (second part) the Perl package statement is used to name the object class or namespace. But that's where the similarities end Inline takes over.

The idea is that we call a C subroutine called new() which returns a blessed scalar. The scalar contains a readonly integer which is a C pointer to a Soldier struct. This is our object.

The new() function needs to malloc the memory for the struct and then copy the initial values into it using savepv(). This also allocates more memory (which we have to keep track of).

The accessor methods are pretty straightforward. They return the current value of their attribute.

The last method DESTROY() is called automatically by Perl whenever an object goes out of scope. This is where we can free all the memory used by the object.

That's it. It's a very simplistic example. It doesn't show off any advanced OO features, but it is pretty cool to see how easy the implementation can be. The important Perl call is newSVrv() which creates a blessed scalar.

See Also

Read "Object Oriented Perl" by Damian Conway, for more useful ways of doing OOP in Perl.

You can learn more Perl calls in perlapi. If you don't have Perl 5.6.0 or higher, visit


Exposing Shared Libraries


You have this great C library and you want to be able to access parts of it with Perl.

    print get('');

    use Inline C => Config =>
               LIBS => '-lghttp';
    use Inline C => <<'END_OF_C_CODE';

    #include <ghttp.h>

    char *get(SV* uri) {
      SV* buffer;
      ghttp_request* request;

      buffer = NEWSV(0,0);
      request = ghttp_request_new();
      ghttp_set_uri(request, SvPV(uri, PL_na));

      ghttp_set_header(request, http_hdr_Connection, "close");


      sv_catpv(buffer, ghttp_get_body(request));


      return SvPV(buffer, PL_na);


This example fetches and prints the HTML from Itrequires the GNOME http libraries.

One of the most common questions I get is "How can I use Inline to make use of some shared library?". Although it has always been possible to do so, the configuration was ugly, and there were no specific examples.

With version 0.30 and higher, you can specify the use of shared libraries easily with something like this:

    use Inline C => Config => LIBS => '-lghttp';
    use Inline C => "code ...";


    use Inline C => "code ...", LIBS => '-lghttp';

To specify a specific library path, use:

    use Inline C => "code ...", LIBS => '-L/your/lib/path -lyourlib';

To specify an include path use:

    use Inline C => "code ...",
               LIBS => '-lghttp',
               INC => '-I/your/inc/path';
See Also

The LIBS and INC configuration options are formatted and passed into MakeMaker. For more info see ExtUtils::MakeMaker. For more options see Inline::C.


This code was written by Matt Sergeant <>, author of many CPAN modules. The configuration syntax has been modified for use with Inline v0.30.

Automatic Function Wrappers


You have some functions in a C library that you want to access from Perl exactly as you would from C.


The error function erf() is probably defined in your standard math library. Annoyingly, Perl does not let you access it. To print out a small table of its values, just say:

    perl -le 'use Inline C => q{ double erf(double); }, enable => "autowrap"; print "$_ @{[erf($_)]}" for (0..10)'

The excellent Term::ReadLine::Gnu implements Term::ReadLine using the GNU ReadLine library. Here is an easy way to access just readline() from that library:

    package MyTerm;

    use Inline C => Config =>
               enable => autowrap =>
               LIBS => "-lreadline -lncurses -lterminfo -ltermcap ";
    use Inline C => q{ char * readline(char *); };

    package main;
    my $x = MyTerm::readline("xyz: ");

Note however that it fails to free() the memory returned by readline, and that Term::ReadLine::Gnu offers a much richer interface.


We access existing functions by merely showing Inline their declarations, rather than a full definition. Of course the function declared must exist, either in a library already linked to Perl or in a library specified using the LIBS option.

The first example wraps a function from the standard math library, so Inline requires no additional LIBS directive. The second uses the Config option to specify the libraries that contain the actual compiled C code.

This behavior is always disabled by default. You must enable the autowrap option to make it work.

See Also
  • readline

  • Term::ReadLine::Gnu


GNU ReadLine was written by Brian Fox <> and Chet Ramey <>. Term::ReadLine::Gnu was written by Hiroo Hayashi <>. Both are far richer than the slim interface given here!

The idea of producing wrapper code given only a function declaration is taken from Swig by David M. Beazley <>.

Ingy's inline editorial insight:

This entire entry was contributed by Ariel Scolnicov <>. Ariel also first suggested the idea for Inline to support function declaration processing.

Replacing h2xs


You have a complete C library that you want to access from Perl exactly as you would from C.


Just say:

    use IO::All;
    use Inline C => sub { io('allheaders.h')->all =~ s/LEPT_DLL extern//gr },
      enable => "autowrap",
      libs => '-lleptonica';

In principle, you can use h2xs to wrap a C library into an XS module. One problem with this is that the C parser code is a little out of date. Also, since it works by generating a number of files, maintaining it when the C library changes is a certain amount of work. Using Inline to do the work is much easier.

If the header file needs some processing, like removing some text that a full C compiler can deal with, but the Inline::C parser cannot, as in the example above? Well, Perl is good at text-processing.

Complex Data


How do I deal with complex data types like hashes in Inline C?

    use Inline C => <<'END_OF_C_CODE';

    void dump_hash(SV* hash_ref) {
      HV* hash;
      HE* hash_entry;
      int num_keys, i;
      SV* sv_key;
      SV* sv_val;

      if (! SvROK(hash_ref))
        croak("hash_ref is not a reference");

      hash = (HV*)SvRV(hash_ref);
      num_keys = hv_iterinit(hash);
      for (i = 0; i < num_keys; i++) {
        hash_entry = hv_iternext(hash);
        sv_key = hv_iterkeysv(hash_entry);
        sv_val = hv_iterval(hash, hash_entry);
        printf("%s => %s\n", SvPV(sv_key, PL_na), SvPV(sv_val, PL_na));


    my %hash = (
      Author => "Ingy döt Net",
      Nickname => "INGY",
      Module => "",
      Version => "0.30",
      Language => "C",


The world is not made of scalars alone, although they are definitely the easiest creatures to deal with, when doing Inline stuff. Sometimes we need to deal with arrays, hashes, and code references, among other things.

Since Perl subroutine calls only pass scalars as arguments, we'll need to use the argument type SV* and pass references to more complex types.

The above program dumps the key/value pairs of a hash. To figure it out, just curl up with perlapi for a couple hours. Actually, its fairly straight forward once you are familiar with the calls.

Note the croak function call. This is the proper way to die from your C extensions.

See Also

See perlapi for information about the Perl5 internal API.


Hash of Lists


How do I create a Hash of Lists from C?

    use Inline 'C';
    use Data::Dumper;

    $hash_ref = load_data("./cartoon.txt");
    print Dumper $hash_ref;


    static int next_word(char**, char*);

    SV* load_data(char* file_name) {
      char buffer[100], word[100], * pos;
      AV* array;
      HV* hash = newHV();
      FILE* fh = fopen(file_name, "r");

      while (fgets(pos = buffer, sizeof(buffer), fh)) {
        if (next_word(&pos, word)) {
          array = newAV();
          hv_store(hash, word, strlen(word),
            newRV_noinc((SV*)array), 0);
          while (next_word(&pos, word))
            av_push(array, newSVpvf("%s", word));
      return newRV_noinc((SV*) hash);

    static int next_word(char** text_ptr, char* word) {
      char* text = *text_ptr;
      while(*text != '\0' &&
            *text <= ' ')
      if (*text <= ' ')
        return 0;
      while(*text != '\0' &&
            *text > ' ') {
        *word++ = *text++;
      *word = '\0';
      *text_ptr = text;
      return 1;

This is one of the larger recipes. But when you consider the number of calories it has, it's not so bad. The function load_data takes the name of a file as it's input. The file cartoon.text might look like:

    flintstones fred barney
    jetsons     george jane elroy
    simpsons    homer marge bart

The function will read the file, parsing each line into words. Then it will create a new hash, whereby the first word in a line becomes a hash key and the remaining words are put into an array whose reference becomes the hash value. The output looks like this:

    $VAR1 = {
              'flintstones' => [
              'simpsons' => [
              'jetsons' => [
See Also

See perlapi for information about the Perl5 internal API.


Al Danial <> requested a solution to this on comp.lang.perl.misc. He borrowed the idea from the "Hash of Lists" example in the Camel book.




How do I access Win32 DLL-s using Inline?

    use Inline C => DATA =>
               LIBS => '-luser32';

    $text = "@ARGV" || ' works with MSWin32. Scary...';

    WinBox('Inline Text Box', $text);


    #include <windows.h>

    int WinBox(char* Caption, char* Text) {
      return MessageBoxA(0, Text, Caption, 0);

This example runs on MS Windows. It makes a text box appear on the screen which contains a message of your choice.

The important thing is that its proof that you can use Inline to interact with Windows DLL-s. Very scary indeed. 8-o

To use Inline on Windows with ActivePerl ( )you'll need MS Visual Studio. You can also use the Cygwin environment,available at .

See Also

See Inline-Support for more info on MSWin32 programming with Inline.


This example was adapted from some sample code written by Garrett Goebel <>

Embedding Perl in C


How do I use Perl from a regular C program?


    int main(void) {
      printf("Using Perl version %s from a C program!\n\n",
             CPR_eval("use Config; $Config{version};"));

      CPR_eval("use Data::Dumper;");
      CPR_eval("print Dumper \\%INC;");

      return 0;

By using CPR. (C Perl Run)

This example uses another Inline module, Inline::CPR, available separately on CPAN. When you install this module it also installs a binary interpreter called /usr/bin/cpr. (The path may be different on your system)

When you feed a C program to the CPR interpreter, it automatically compiles and runs your code using Inline. This gives you full access to the Perl internals. CPR also provides a set of easy to use C macros for calling Perl internals.

This means that you can effectively "run" C source code by putting a CPR hashbang as the first line of your C program.

See Also

See Inline::CPR for more information on using CPR.

Inline::CPR can be obtained from


Randal Schwartz <>, Randolph Bentson <>, Richard Anderson <>, and Tim Maher <> helped me figure out how to write a program that would work as a hashbang.


As of version 0.30, Inline has the ability to work in cooperation with other modules that want to expose a C API of their own. The general syntax for doing this is:

    use Inline with => 'Module';
    use Inline C => ... ;

This tells Module to pass configuration options to Inline. Options like typemaps, include paths, and external libraries, are all resolved automatically so you can just concentrate on writing the functions.

Event handling with Event


You need to write a C callback for the Event module. Can this be done more easily with Inline?

    use Inline with => 'Event';

    Event->timer(desc     => 'Timer #1',
                 interval => 2,
                 cb       => \&my_callback,

    Event->timer(desc     => 'Timer #2',
                 interval => 3,
                 cb       => \&my_callback,

    print "Starting...\n";

    use Inline C => <<'END';
    void my_callback(pe_event* event) {
      pe_timer * watcher = event->up;

      printf("%s\n\tEvent priority = %d\n\tWatcher priority = %d\n\n",

The first line tells Inline to load the Event module. Inline then queries [Event} for configuration information. It gets the name and location of Event's header files, typemaps and shared objects. The parameters that Event returns look like:

    INC => "-I $path/Event",
    TYPEMAPS => "$path/Event/typemap",
    MYEXTLIB => "$path/auto/Event/Event.$so",
    AUTO_INCLUDE => '#include "EventAPI.h"',
    BOOT => 'I_EVENT_API("Inline");',

Doing all of this automatically allows you, the programmer, to simply write a function that receives a pointer of type 'pe_event*'. This gives you access to the Event structure that was passed to you.

In this example, I simply print values out of the structure. The Perl code defines 2 timer events which each invoke the same callback. The first one, every two seconds, and the second one, every three seconds.

As of this writing, Event is one of a growing number of CPAN module that work in cooperation with Inline. Any Alien::Build module (e.g., Alien::OpenMP) works with Inline::C in this way, as does PDL.

See Also

Read the Event documentation for more information. It contains a tutorial showing several examples of using Inline with Event.


Jochen Stenzel <> originally came up with the idea of mixing Inline and Event. He also authored the Event tutorial.

Joshua Pritikin <> is the author of Event.


Calling C from both Perl and C


I'd like to be able to call the same C function from both Perl and C. Also I like to define a C function that doesn't get bound to Perl. How do I do that?

    print "9 + 5 = ", add(9, 5), "\n";
    print "SQRT(9^2 + 5^2) = ", pyth(9, 5), "\n";
    print "9 * 5 = ", mult(9, 5), "\n";

    use Inline C => <<'END_C';
    int add(int x, int y) {
      return x + y;
    static int mult(int x, int y) {
      return x * y;
    double pyth(int x, int y) {
      return sqrt(add(mult(x, x), mult(y, y)));

The program produces:

    9 + 5 = 14
    SQRT(9^2 + 5^2) = 10.295630140987
    Can't locate auto/main/ in @INC ...

Every Inline function that is bound to Perl is also callable by C. You don't have to do anything special. Inline arranges it so that all the typemap code gets done by XS and is out of sight. By the time the C function receives control, everything has been converted from Perl to C.

Of course if your function manipulates the Perl Stack, you probably don't want to call it from C (unless you really know what you're doing).

If you declare a function as static, Inline won't bind it to Perl. That's why we were able to call mult() from C but the call failed from Perl.

Calling Perl from C


So now that I can call C from Perl, how do I call a Perl subroutine from an Inline C function.

    use Inline 'C';

    for(1..5) {
      c_func_1('This is the first line');
      c_func_2('This is the second line');
      print "\n";

    sub perl_sub_1 {
      print map "$_\n", @_;


    void c_func_2(SV* text) {


      XPUSHs(sv_2mortal(newSVpvf("Plus an extra line")));

      call_pv("perl_sub_1", G_DISCARD);


    void c_func_1(SV* text) {

This demo previously made use of Inline Stack macros only - but that's not the correct way to do it. Instead, base the callbacks on the perlcall documentation (as we're now doing).

Actually, this program demonstrates calling a C function which calls another C function which in turn calls a Perl subroutine.

The nice thing about Inline C functions is that you can call them from both Perl-space and C-space. That's because Inline creates a wrapper function around each C function. When you use Perl to call C you're actually calling that function's wrapper. The wrapper handles typemapping and Stack management, and then calls your C function.

The first time we call c_func_1 which calls c_func_2. The second time we call c_func_2 directly. c_func_2 calls the Perl subroutine (perl_sub_1) using the internal perl_call_pv function. It has to put arguments on the stack by hand. Since there is already one argument on the stack when we enter the function, the XPUSHs ( which is equivalent to an Inline_Stack_Push ) adds a second argument.

We iterate through a 'for' loop 5 times just to demonstrate that things still work correctly when we do that. (This was where the previous rendition, making use solely of Inline Stack macros, fell down.)

See Also

See Inline::C for more information about Stack macros.

See perlapi for more information about the Perl5 internal API.

Evaling C


I've totally lost my marbles and I want to generate C code at run time, and eval it into Perl. How do I do this?

    use Inline;
    use Code::Generator;

    my $c_code = generate('foo_function');

    Inline->bind(C => $c_code);

    foo_function(1, 2, 3);

I can't think of a real life application where you would want to generate C code on the fly, but at least I know how I would do it. :)

The bind() function of Inline let's you bind (compileloadexecute) C functions at run time. It takes all of the same arguments as use Inline C=> ....

The nice thing is that once a particular snippet is compiled, it remains cached so that it doesn't need to be compiled again. I can imagine that someday a mad scientist will dream up a self generating modeling system that would run faster and faster over time.

If you know such a person, have them drop me a line.

Providing a pure perl alternative


I want to write a script that will use a C subroutine if Inline::C is installed, but will otherwise use an equivalent pure perl subroutine if Inline::C is not already installed. How do I do this?

    use strict;
    use warnings;

    eval {
      require Inline;
      Inline->import (C => Config =>
                      BUILD_NOISY => 1);
      Inline->import (C =><<'EOC');

      int foo() {
        warn("Using Inline\n");
        return 42;


    if ($@) {
      *foo =\&bar;

    sub bar {
      warn("Using Pure Perl Implementation\n");
      return 42;

    my $x = foo();
    print "$x\n";

If Inline::C is installed and functioning properly, the C sub foo is called by the perl code. Otherwise, $@ gets set, and the equivalent pure perl function bar is instead called.

Note, too, that the pure perl sub bar can still be explicitly called even if Inline::C is available.

Accessing Fortran subs using Inline::C


I've been given a neat little sub written in fortran that takes, as its args, two integers and returns their product. And I would like to use that sub as is from Inline::C. By way of example, let's say that the fortran source file is named 'prod.f', and that it looks like this:

    integer function sqarea(r,s)
    integer r, s
    sqarea = r*s

We can't access that code directly, but we can compile it into a library which we can then access from Inline::C. Using gcc we could run:

    gfortran -c prod.f -o prod.o
    ar cru libprod.a prod.o

The function is then accessible as follows:

    use warnings;

    use Inline C => Config =>
      LIBS => '-L/full/path/to/libprod_location -lprod -lgfortran';

    use Inline C => <<'  EOC';

    int wrap_sqarea(int a, int b) {
      return sqarea_(&a, &b);


    $x = 15;
    $y = $x + 3;
    $ret = wrap_sqarea($x, $y);
    print "Product of $x and $y is $ret\n";

Note firstly that, although the function is specified as 'sqarea' in the source file, gfortran appends an underscore to the name when the source is compiled. (I don't know if all fortran compilers do this.) Therefore Inline::C needs to call the function as 'sqarea_'.

Secondly, because fortran subs pass args by reference, we need to pass the addresses of the two integer args to sqarea() when we call it from our Inline::C sub.

If using g77 instead of gfortran, the only necessary change is that we specify '-lg2c' instead of '-lgfortran' in our 'LIBS' setting.


For generic information about Inline, see Inline.

For information about using Inline with C see Inline::C.

For information on supported languages and platforms see Inline-Support.

For information on writing your own Inline language support module, see Inline-API.

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Copyright 2000-2022. Ingy döt Net.

Copyright 2008, 2010-2014. Sisyphus.

This program is free software; you can redistribute it and/or modify it under the same terms as Perl itself.