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Phar archive stream and classes


The phar extension provides the phar stream wrapper and the Phar class for manipulating self-contained PHP Archive (phar) files. The Phar class can be used to create and to extract contents of phar files as well as iterating over their contents.

PHP Archive files (Phars) are special collections of files that can be transparently run right out of the file, similar to Java's jar archive files. Using a phar archive, it is possible to distribute a complete PHP application in a single file that will run out of the file without modification or extraction. Phar archives can also be used to store files for extraction similar to tar or zip archive files. Phars support compression using gzip if the zlib extension is present, and using bzip2 if the bz2 extension is present. In addition, iteration and other features are available if the SPL extension is available. Phar signature verification using md5 or sha1 is natively supported to ensure archive integrity.

The original implementation for Phar archives was in the PEAR package » PHP_Archive, and the implementation details are very similar, although the Phar extension is more full-featured. PHP_Archive has more flexibility in Phar creation, and helpful debugging tools like the PHP_Archive_Manager class, and the Phar extension supports iteration, array access, and directly manipulating Phar contents through a simple interface. PHP_Archive supports creation of Phar archives that can be processed using the Phar extension or PHP_Archive seamlessly, whereas the Phar extension is designed to create extensions that function with the Phar extension. In addition, the Phar extension will continue to work even if the allow_url_include or allow_url_fopen INI variables are disabled, while PHP_Archive-based Phar archives (without the Phar extension) will not function.


Phar requires PHP 5.2.0 or newer. Additional features require the SPL extension in order to take advantage of iteration and array access to a Phar's file contents. The phar stream does not require any additional extensions to function.

You may optionally wish to enable the zlib and bzip2 extensions to take advantage of compressed phar support.


Windows binaries may be found at » To install, download php_phar.dll to the folder specified by your php.ini file's extension_dir directive. Enable it by adding extension=php_phar.dll to your php.ini and restarting your web server.


Linux, BSD, and other *nix variants can be compiled using the following steps:

  • Either:

    • Run the pear installer for PECL/phar: pecl install phar
    • Copy from the directory indicated by the build process to the location specified in your php.ini file under extension_dir.
    • Add to your php.ini


    • Set the path to your php.ini via: pecl config-set php_ini /path/to/php.ini
    • Run the pear installer for PECL/phar: pecl install phar

  • Restart your web server to reload your php.ini settings.

Note: Development Versions There are currently no stable versions of PECL/phar, to force installation of the alpha version of PECL/phar execute: pecl install phar-alpha


Compiling PECL/phar without using the PEAR command

Rather than using pecl install phar to automatically download and install PECL/phar, you may download the tarball from » PECL. From the root of the unpacked tarball, run: phpize && ./configure --enable-phar && make to generate Once built, continue the installation from step 4 above.

Information for installing this PECL extension may be found in the manual chapter titled Installation of PECL extensions. Additional information such as new releases, downloads, source files, maintainer information, and a CHANGELOG, can be located here: »

Runtime Configuration

The behaviour of these functions is affected by settings in php.ini.

Filesystem and Streams Configuration Options
Name Default Changeable Changelog
phar.readonly "1" PHP_INI_ALL  
phar.require_hash "1" PHP_INI_ALL  
phar.extract_list "" PHP_INI_ALL Available since phar 1.1.0.

Here's a short explanation of the configuration directives.

phar.readonly boolean

This option disables creation or modification of Phar archives using the phar stream or Phar object's write support. This setting should always be enabled on production machines, as the phar extension's convenient write support could allow straightforward creation of a php-based virus when coupled with other common security vulnerabilities.

Note: This setting can only be unset in php.ini due to security reasons. If phar.readonly is disabled in php.ini, the user may enable phar.readonly in a script or disable it later. If phar.readonly is enabled in php.ini, a script may harmlessly "re-enable" the INI variable, but may not disable it.

phar.require_hash boolean

This option will force all opened Phar archives to contain some kind of signature (currently MD5 and SHA1 are supported), and will refuse to process any Phar archive that does not contain a signature.

Note: This setting can only be unset in php.ini due to security reasons. If phar.require_hash is disabled in php.ini, the user may enable phar.require_hash in a script or disable it later. If phar.require_hash is enabled in php.ini, a script may harmlessly "re-enable" the INI variable, but may not disable it.

phar.extract_list string

Allows mappings from a full path to a phar archive or its alias to the location of its extracted files. The format of the parameter is name=archive,name2=archive2. This allows extraction of phar files to disk, and allows phar to act as a kind of mapper to extracted disk files. This is often done for performance reasons, or to assist with debugging a phar.

Example#1 phar.extract_list usage example

in php.ini:
phar.extract_list = archive=/full/path/to/archive/,arch2=/full/path/to/arch2
include "phar://archive/content.php";

Resource Types

The Phar extension provides the phar stream, which allows accessing files contained within a phar transparently. The file format of a Phar is described here

Predefined Classes

  • Phar
  • PharFileInfo
  • PharException

Using Phar Archives: Introduction

Phar archives are similar in concept to Java JAR archives, but are tailored to the needs and to the flexibility of PHP applications. A Phar archive is used to distribute a complete PHP application or library in a single file. Unlike Java's implementation of JAR archives, no external tool is required to process or run a PHP Phar archive. A Phar archive application is processed exactly like any other PHP application:

php coolapplication.phar

Using a Phar archive library is identical to using any other PHP library:

include 'coollibrary.phar';

What makes Phar archives incredibly useful is the phar stream wrapper, which is explained in depth here. Using this stream wrapper, it is possible to access individual files within a phar as if the phar were its own filesystem. The phar stream wrapper supports all read/write operations on files, and opendir() on directories.

include 'phar://coollibrary.phar/internal/file.php';
header('Content-type: image/jpeg');
// phars can be accessed by full path or by alias
echo file_get_contents('phar:///fullpath/to/coollibrary.phar/images/wow.jpg');

Also provided with the Phar extension is the Phar class, which allows accessing the files of the Phar archive as if it were an associative array, and other functionality. The Phar class is explained here.

try {
// open an existing phar
$p = new Phar('coollibrary.phar');
    foreach (
$p as $file) {
// $file is a PharFileInfo class, and inherits from SplFileInfo
echo $file->getFileName() . "\n";
$file "\n"// display contents;
    if (isset(
$p['internal/file.php'])) {

// create a new phar - phar.readonly must be 0 in php.ini
    // phar.readonly is enabled by default for security reasons.
    // On production servers, Phars need never be created,
    // only executed.
if (Phar::canWrite()) {
$p = new Phar(dirname(__FILE__) . '/newphar.phar'0'newphar.phar');
// create transaction - nothing is written to newphar.phar
        // until commit() is called, although temporary storage is needed
// add a new file, set its contents
$p['file1.txt'] = 'Information';
$fp fopen('hugefile.dat''rb');
// copy from the stream
$p['data/hugefile.dat'] = $fp;
        if (
Phar::canCompress()) {
$p['images/wow.jpg'] = file_get_contents('images/wow.jpg');
// any value can be saved as file-specific meta-data
$p['images/wow.jpg']->setMetaData(array('mime-type' => 'image/jpeg'));
$p['index.php'] = file_get_contents('index.php');
$p->setMetaData(array('bootstrap' => 'index.php'));
// set the loader stub
$p = new Phar(__FILE__);
$m = $p->getMetaData();
require "phar://" . __FILE__ . "/" . $m["bootstrap"];
// save the phar archive to disk
} catch (
Exception $e) {
'Could not open Phar: '$e;

Using Phar Archives: the phar stream wrapper

The Phar stream wrapper fully supports fopen() for read, write or append, unlink(), stat(), fstat(), fseek(), rename() and directory stream operation opendir(). The Phar stream wrapper does not support creating or erasing a directory, as files are stored only as files, and the concept of an abstract directory does not exist.

Individual file compression and per-file metadata can also be manipulated in a Phar archive using stream contexts:

stream_context_create(array('phar' =>
'compression' => Phar::GZ)),
'metadata' => array('user' => 'cellog')));

The phar stream wrapper does not operate on remote files, and cannot operate on remote files, and so is allowed even when the allow_url_fopen and allow_url_include INI options are disabled.

Although it is possible to create phar archives from scratch just using stream operations, it is best to use the functionality built into the Phar class. The stream wrapper is best used for read operations.

Using Phar Archives: the Phar class

The Phar class supports reading and manipulation of Phar archives, as well as iteration through inherited functionality of the » RecursiveDirectoryIterator class. With support for the ArrayAccess interface, files inside a Phar archive can be accessed as if they were part of an associative array.

It is important to note that when creating a Phar archive, the full path should be passed to the Phar object constructor. Relative paths will fail to initialize.

Assuming that $p is a Phar object initialized as follows:

= new Phar('/path/to/myphar.phar'0'myphar.phar');

An empty Phar archive will be created at /path/to/myphar.phar, or if /path/to/myphar.phar already exists, it will be opened again. The literal myphar.phar deomnstrates the concept of an alias that can be used to reference /path/to/myphar.phar in URLs as in:

// these two calls to file_get_contents() are equivalent if
// /path/to/myphar.phar has an explicit alias of "myphar.phar"
// in its manifest, or if the phar was initialized with the
// previous example's Phar object setup
$f file_get_contents('phar:///path/to/myphar.phar/whatever.txt');
$f file_get_contents('phar://myphar.phar/whatever.txt');

With the newly created $p Phar object, the following is possible:

  • $a = $p['file.php'] creates a PharFileInfo class that refers to the contents of phar://myphar.phar/file.php
  • $p['file.php'] = $v creates a new file (phar://myphar.phar/file.php), or overwrites an existing file within myphar.phar. $v can be either a string or an open file pointer, in which case the entire contents of the file will be used to create the new file.
  • isset($p['file.php']) can be used to determine whether phar://myphar.phar/file.php exists within myphar.phar.
  • unset($p['file.php']) erases phar://myphar.phar/file.php from myphar.phar.

In addition, the Phar object is the only way to access Phar-specific metadata, through Phar->getMetaData(), and the only way to set or retrieve a Phar archive's PHP loader stub through Phar->getStub() and Phar->setStub(). Additionally, compression for the entire Phar archive at once can only be manipulated using the Phar class.

The full list of Phar object functionality is documented below.

The PharFileInfo class extends the » SplFileInfo class, and adds several methods for manipulating Phar-specific details of a file contained within a Phar, such as manipulating compression and metadata.

Phar file format

All Phar files contain three to four sections:

  1. a stub

  2. a manifest describing the contents

  3. the file contents

  4. [optional] a signature for verifying Phar integrity

Phar file stub

A Phar's stub is a simple PHP file. The smallest possible stub follows:

<?php __HALT_COMPILER();

A stub must contain as a minimum, the __HALT_COMPILER(); token at its conclusion. Typically, a stub will contain loader functionality like so:


There are no restrictions on the contents of a Phar stub, except for the requirement that it conclude with __HALT_COMPILER();. The closing PHP tag

may be included or omitted, but there can be no more than 1 space between the ; and the close tag
or the phar extension will be unable to process the Phar archive's manifest.

Phar Manifest Format

The Phar manifest is a highly optimized format that allows per-file specification of file compression, file permissions, and even user-defined meta-data such as file user or group. All values greater than 1 byte are stored in little-endian byte order, with the exception of the API version, which for historical reasons is stored as 3 nibbles in big-endian order.

All unused flags are reserved for future use, and must not be used to store custom information. Use the per-file meta-data facility to store customized information about particular files.

The basic file format of a Phar archive manifest is as follows:

Global Phar manifest format
Size in bytes Description
4 bytes Length of manifest in bytes (1 MB limit)
4 bytes Number of files in the Phar
2 bytes API version of the Phar manifest (currently 1.0.0)
4 bytes Global Phar bitmapped flags
4 bytes Length of Phar alias
?? Phar alias (length based on previous)
4 bytes Length of Phar metadata (0 for none)
?? Serialized Phar Meta-data, stored in serialize() format
at least 24 * number of entries bytes entries for each file

Global Phar bitmapped flags

Here are the bitmapped flags currently recognized by the Phar extension for the global Phar flat bitmap:

Bitmap values recognized
Value Description
0x00010000 If set, this Phar contains a verification signature
0x00001000 If set, this Phar contains at least 1 file that is compressed with zlib compression
0x00002000 If set, this Phar contains at least 1 file that is compressed with bzip compression

Phar manifest file entry definition

Each file in the manifest contains the following information:

Phar Manifest file entry
Size in bytes Description
4 bytes Filename length in bytes
?? Filename (length specified in previous)
4 bytes Un-compressed file size in bytes
4 bytes Unix timestamp of file
4 bytes Compressed file size in bytes
4 bytes CRC32 checksum of un-compressed file contents
4 bytes Bit-mapped File-specific flags
4 bytes Serialized File Meta-data length (0 for none)
?? Serialized File Meta-data, stored in serialize() format

The File-specific bitmap values recognized are:

Bitmap values recognized
Value Description
0x000001FF These bits are reserved for defining specific file permissions of a file. Permissions are used for fstat() and can be used to recreate desired permissions upon extraction.
0x00001000 If set, this file is compressed with zlib compression
0x00002000 If set, this file is compressed with bzip compression

Phar Signature format

Phars containing a signature always have the signature appended to the end of the Phar archive after the loader, manifest, and file contents. The two signature formats supported at this time are MD5 and SHA1.

Signature format
Length in bytes Description
16 or 20 bytes The actual signature, 20 bytes for an SHA1 signature, 16 bytes for an MD5 signature.
4 bytes Signature flags. 0x0001 is used to define an MD5 signature, and 0x0002 is used to define an SHA1 signature.
4 bytes Magic GBMB used to define the presence of a signature.

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