How to have a central VCL for PHP location for all your websites

I have a number of sites that on which I want to use the VCL for PHP library components with Delphi for PHP creations.  I don’t want to waste uneeded space for a bazillion copies of the VCL.  As far as that goes, I don’t want to have to sit through the deployment wizard every time either.

You could edit PHP.ini and add the location to your include path, but the VCL for PHP is MORE than just a textual code libary.  It includes image files as well, for things like the dropdown arrow in the combo boxes.

 So what’s a person to do?  Well, it’s simple.  Create some symbolic links!

Just put the VCL in your root directory or at least one that can be accessed with a common path from the your website directories.  I use the root since I can use ~ to get at it easily on Linux.  It could just as easily be /usr/local/lib/vcl or d:\VCL.  Then in your directories you just put two symbolic links, one named vcl and the other named vcl-bin. Both pointing to the vcl directory you made.

Here’s the step by step for *nix systems:

  1. Upload the whole VCL folder to the root web directory
  2. Telnet/ssh into the account
  3. Change to the directory for your website
  4. Run these two commands
    1. ln ~/vcl
    2. ln ~/vcl vcl-bin
  5. Repeat steps 3 and 4 for all of your sites.
  6. When you deploy, just grab the files in your project directory and upload them.  No worrying about the VCL any more.  You should be able to make a batch file that does that step!

That’s it (oh and just in case your font makes “ln” hard to readand that is a lower case “LN” as in link.)

 On Windows, you should be able to do the same thing.  If you have Vista you have native support for symbolic links.  And in XP, you can use NTFS links.  But I’ll leave it up to you to look up those technologies.  With that sort of thing, if you aren’t able to find and digest how to do it, you’re probably better off just using the deploy tool.

 Hope this helps someone!  It’s made my life a little easier.

Windows Implementation

Kevin Berry came up with this windows implementation:

For my Windows 2000 webserver, which I have total acces to, below is how I followed Brian Layman’s advice to made this work.

1. Downloaded linkmagic.exe from
http://users.pandora.be/jbranders/linkmagic.exe

2. Ran linkmagic.exe (setup program) on my webserver.

3. Launched Junction Link Magic program.

4. Created empty “vcl” folder in my clock project folder in my webserver root (c:\web\htdocs\clock\vcl) and selected this vcl folder as my junction folder.

5. Selected my true vcl folder loaded with vcl files as my destination folder (c:\web\vcl)

6. Clicked “create” button

Now my D4PHP clock sample program runs just fine in c:\web\htdocs\clock with only one main vcl installation on my webserver.

I suppose I could use the Junction Link Magic program to create new vcl junction folders in other vcl project subfolders on my webserver, but I discovered that once the first vcl junction folder is created, I can create more of these just by copying an existing vcl junction folder into a new project folder and choosing cancel when the file overwrite prompt appears. If I delete a vcl junction point folder, the real folder and its files don’t get deleted.

I for one don’t want different versions of my vcl all over my webserver in different folders (assuming I’ll have lots of web projects someday). For me it’s just simplest knowing the latest and greatest vcl library is always in one spot on my web server.

I don’t know if one could duplicate the directory structure of a windows hosted web from a remote server on one’s own computer to create the junction folder and then ftp that junction folder out to the remote server and preserve the redirection. If so, that would be great.

For my webserver, this is pretty nifty, Thanks again to Brian for the workaround until Codegear/Qadram figure out what I hope to be a better vcl deployment method.

Alternative Solution

David Plock also suggested another methot that uses a VCL-BIN alias. Jose Leon Serna provided the final fix to get this working. Kevin has done a great job of writing up these steps as well:

Options Indexes MultiViews
AllowOverride None
Order allow,deny
Allow from all

3. In my php.ini file I added the following so that php will know in which folder to find the vcl folder.

include_path = “.;c:\web”

If I had dropped my vcl folder into my root directory on my webserver, the entry would have been:

include_path = “.;c:\web\htdocs”

4. Jose added the final piece to make this work. In my vcl.inc.php file I modified a line so that the alias name gets passed properly to my webserver. The line that mentions vcl-bin needs a forward slash in front of vcl-bin so the final line appears like this:

if (!array_key_exists(‘FOR_PREVIEW’,$_SERVER)) $http_path=’/vcl-bin’;

5. Make sure all configuration file changes above are saved and then restart the webserver.

Now you can drop D4PHP projects in any subfolders or even subfolders of subfolders of your root directory on your webserver and they work.

The nice thing about this solution in addition to it being a single vcl deployment is that it seems to me any web hoster can implement it once for
the entire web server and any subscribers can simply ftp D4PHP web files to their own folders on the server and they’ll work.

Thanks Brian, David, and Jose for two ways to make a single vcl deployment work!!!

If you want to see this solution in action, you can visit these links (on my slow webserver) for as long as my internet service provider leaves my ip address alone. The vcl folder is outside the web root and only clock.php, clock.xml.php, and background.gif are in each of these folders.

http://24.2.90.16/clock.php
http://24.2.90.16/clock/clock.php
http://24.2.90.16/clock/clock/clock.php
http://24.2.90.16/clock/clock/clock/clock.php

There you are. Two different methods proven successful in the field! Enjoy!

  • Fernando Madruga

    Actually, an alternative may be doing that in the webserver configuration: both IIS and Apache will allow you to do it without messing with lynks, and besides, NTFS links are “same drive” only which limits their usefulness…

  • Yeah, actually a .htaccess solution should work just as easily. I’d a reason I didn’t use .htaccess when I came up with this, but at the moment I cannot think of what in the world that might have been…

  • You can also implement a Central VCL on a Unix/Apache install as follows:

    1) Upload the vcl folder to your web root. (assuming root is /usr/local/apache/htdocs for examples)

    2) Edit your php.ini file include_path directive to also point to your web root.
    (for example: include_path= “.:/usr/local/apache/htdocs”)

    3) Edit your httpd.conf and enter a Alias for the vcl-bin that points to the vcl directory
    (for example: Alias /vcl-bin/ “/usr/local/apache/htdocs/vcl/”

    Now I can just upload the program files created by D4PHP to whatever folder I want.

    I believe you can actually place the vcl folder outside your web directory structure. You would then probably need to add a Directory directive to the httpd.conf file to set the correct access permissions on that directory but I did not test this.

    Other changes I made on the server were to increase the php memory size to 16M from 8M (I was getting memory allocation errors on the blog sample),

    And I modified the system.inc.php and replaced the input filter code with a GPL input filter (my version of php 5.2.1 on server didn’t have an installed filter and I did not see one in the extensions).

  • Good one david!

  • Joe

    VLC? You need PHP 4 Delpi though?

  • Nope. It’s a framework you can use straight from PHP. Use it through Zend Studio if you like.

  • Update in the code I posted – some of the samples (the clock for one) did not work. Changing the Alias in the httpd.conf to:

    Alias /vcl-bin “/usr/local/apache/htdocs/vcl”

    Seems to fix the problem.

  • Anderson

    Thanks A LOT David Plock. Your tip works great !!!

    (Ubuntu Server 7.04 Beta)
    cd /var/www/vcl
    tar -vzxf vcl_for_php_1_0.tar.gz
    nano /etc/php5/apache2/php.ini [ include_path = “/var/www” ]
    nano /etc/apache2/httpd.conf [ Alias /vcl-bin/ “/var/www/vcl/” ]
    /etc/init.d/apache2 restart

    Anderson Francisco – anderson@unifal-mg.edu.br
    University of Alfenas – Brazil – http://www.unifal-mg.edu.br