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Gisle Aas


HTTP::Cookies - Cookie storage and management


 use HTTP::Cookies;
 $cookie_jar = HTTP::Cookies->new;



Cookies are a general mechanism which server side connections can use to both store and retrieve information on the client side of the connection. For more information about cookies referrer to <URL:http://www.netscape.com/newsref/std/cookie_spec.html> and <URL:http://www.cookiecentral.com/>. This module also implements the new style cookies as described in draft-ietf-http-state-man-mec-03.txt. The two variants of cookies can coexist happily.

Instances of the class HTTP::Cookies are able to store a collection of Set-Cookie2: and Set-Cookie:-headers and is able to use this information to initialize Cookie-headers in HTTP::Request objects. The state of the HTTP::Cookies can be saved and restored from files.


The following methods are provided:

The constructor. Takes hash style parameters. The following parameters are recognized:

  file:            name of the file to restore and save cookies to
  autosave:        should we save during destruction (bool)
  ignore_discard:  save even cookies that are requested to be discarded (bool)

Future parameters might include (not yet implemented):

  max_cookies               300
  max_cookies_per_domain    20
  max_cookie_size           4096

  no_cookies   list of domain names that we never return cookies to

The add_cookie_header() method will set the appropriate Cookie:-header for the HTTP::Request object given as argument. The $request must have a valid url() attribute before this method is called.

The extract_cookies() method will look for Set-Cookie: and Set-Cookie2:-headers in the HTTP::Response object passed as argument. If some of these headers are found they are used to update the state of the $cookie_jar.

The set_cookie() method updates the state of the $cookie_jar. The $key, $val, $domain, $port and $path arguments are strings. The $path_spec, $secure, $discard arguments are boolean values. The $maxage value is a number indicating number of seconds that this cookie will live. A value <= 0 will delete this cookie. The %rest are a place for various other attributes like "Comment" and "CommentURL".

Calling this method file save the state of the $cookie_jar to a file. The state can then be restored later using the load() method. If a filename is not specified we will use the name specified during construction. If the attribute ignore_discared is set, then we will even save cookies that are marked to be discarded.

The default is to save a sequence of "Set-Cookie3" lines. The "Set-Cookie3" is a proprietary LWP format, not known to be compatible with any other browser. The HTTP::Cookies::Netscape sub-class can be used to save in a format compatible with Netscape.

This method will read the cookies from the file and add them to the $cookie_jar. The file must be in the format written by the save() method.

Will revert to the state of last save.

Invoking this method without arguments will empty the whole $cookie_jar. If given a single argument only cookies belonging to that domain will be removed. If given two arguments, cookies belonging to the specified path within that domain is removed. If given three arguments, then the cookie with the specified key, path and domain is removed.

The argument is a subroutine that will be invoked for each cookie stored within the $cookie_jar. The subroutine will be invoked with the following arguments:

  0  version
  1  key
  2  val
  3  path
  4  domain
  5  port
  6  path_spec
  7  secure
  8  expires
  9  discard
 10  hash

The as_string() method will return the state of the $cookie_jar represented as a sequence of "Set-Cookie3" header lines separated by "\n". If given a argument that is TRUE, it will not return lines for cookies with the Discard attribute.


We also provide a subclass called HTTP::Cookies::Netscape which make cookie loading and saving compatible with Netscape cookie files. You should be able to have LWP share Netscape's cookies by constructing your $cookie_jar like this:

 $cookie_jar = HTTP::Cookies::Netscape->new(
                   File     => "$ENV{HOME}/.netscape/cookies",
                   AutoSave => 1,

Please note that the Netscape cookie file format is not able to store all the information available in the Set-Cookie2 headers, so you will probably loose some information if you save using this format.


Copyright 1997, Gisle Aas

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