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21 non-PAUSE users.

Author image 🦖🦜Graham Ollis🦃🦕
and 12 contributors


FFI::Platypus::Buffer - Convert scalars to C buffers


version 0.95_07


 use FFI::Platypus::Buffer;
 my($pointer, $size) = scalar_to_buffer $scalar;
 my $scalar2 = buffer_to_scalar $pointer, $size;


A common pattern in C is to pass a "buffer" or region of memory into a function with a pair of arguments, an opaque pointer and the size of the memory region. In Perl the equivalent structure is a scalar containing a string of bytes. This module provides portable functions for converting a Perl string or scalar into a buffer and back.

These functions are implemented using pack and unpack and so they should be relatively fast.

Both functions are exported by default, but you can explicitly export one or neither if you so choose.

A better way to do this might be with custom types see FFI::Platypus::API and FFI::Platypus::Type. These functions were taken from the now obsolete FFI::Util module, as they may be useful in some cases.

Caution: This module provides great power in the way that you interact with C code, but with that power comes great responsibility. Since you are dealing with blocks of memory you need to take care to understand the underlying ownership model of these pointers.



 my($pointer, $size) = scalar_to_buffer $scalar;

Convert a string scalar into a buffer. Returned in order are a pointer to the start of the string scalar's memory region and the size of the region.

You should NEVER try to free $pointer.

When you pass this pointer and size into a C function, it has direct access to the data stored in your scalar, so it is important that you not resize or free the scalar while it is in use by the C code. Typically if you are passing a buffer into a C function which reads or writes to the buffer, but does not keep the pointer for later use you are okay. If the buffer is in use long term by the C code, then you should consider copying the buffer instead. For example:

 use FFI::Platypus::Buffer qw( scalar_to_buffer );
 use FFI::Platypus::Memory qw( malloc memcpy free )
 my($ptr, $size) = scalar_to_buffer $string;
 c_function_thaat_does_not_keep_ptr( $ptr, $size); # okay
 my($ptr, $size) = scalar_to_buffer $string;
 my $ptr_copy = malloc($size);
 memcpy($ptr_copy, $ptr, $size);
 c_function_that_DOES_keep_ptr( $ptr_copy, $size); # also okay
 # later when you know that the c code is no longer using the pointer
 # Since you allocated the copy, you are responsible for free'ing it.


 my $pointer = scalar_to_pointer $scalar;

Get the pointer to the scalar. (Similar to scalar_to_buffer above, but the size of the scalar is not computed or returned).

Not exported by default, but may be exported on request.


 my $scalar = buffer_to_scalar $pointer, $size;

Convert the buffer region defined by the pointer and size into a string scalar.

Because of the way memory management works in Perl, the buffer is copied from the buffer into the scalar. If this pointer was returned from C land, then you should only free it if you allocated it.



Main Platypus documentation.


Author: Graham Ollis <plicease@cpan.org>


Bakkiaraj Murugesan (bakkiaraj)

Dylan Cali (calid)


Zaki Mughal (zmughal)

Fitz Elliott (felliott)

Vickenty Fesunov (vyf)

Gregor Herrmann (gregoa)

Shlomi Fish (shlomif)

Damyan Ivanov

Ilya Pavlov (Ilya33)

Petr Pisar (ppisar)

Mohammad S Anwar (MANWAR)


This software is copyright (c) 2015,2016,2017,2018,2019 by Graham Ollis.

This is free software; you can redistribute it and/or modify it under the same terms as the Perl 5 programming language system itself.