Making cross-sub-domain ajax (XHR) requests using mod_proxy and iframes

One of the restrictions imposed by all browser side programming languages is that one cannot make cross-domain ajax requests. This restriction comes because of the same origin policy and even sub-domain ajax calls are not allowed. In this blog post, I will demo two methods of making cross-sub-domain ajax requests. First demo will use mod_proxy module of Apache. While the second demo will use iframe and javascript tricks for making sub-domain ajax requests.

Using mod_proxy for cross-domain ajax requests
By enabling mod_proxy module of apache2, we can configure apache in reverse proxy mode. In reverse proxy mode, apache2 appears be like an ordinary web server to the browser. However depending upon the proxy rules defined, apache2 can make cross-domain request and serve data back to the browser.

Demo Link for Cross Domain Ajax using Apache mod_proxy

In this demo, I will make cross-domain request to To make this cross-domain request successful, I have configured apache2 as shown below:

  1. Enable mod_proxy module.
    $ a2enmod proxy
    $ a2enmod proxy_http
    $ a2enmod proxy_connect
  2. Add the following lines to httpd.conf:
    $ cat /private/etc/apache2/httpd.conf | grep mod_proxy
    LoadModule proxy_module libexec/apache2/
    LoadModule proxy_connect_module libexec/apache2/
    LoadModule proxy_http_module libexec/apache2/
  3. Create a file reverse-proxy.conf and add the following config:
    $ cat /private/etc/apache2/other/reverse-proxy.conf
    ProxyRequests Off
    <Proxy *>
    Order deny,allow
    Deny from all
    Allow from
    ProxyPass /webdemos/crossdomainajax/reverse-proxy-get.php
    ProxyPassReverse /webdemos/crossdomainajax/reverse-proxy-get.php

In brief, when Apache sees an incoming ajax request to /webdemos/crossdomainajax/reverse-proxy-get.php , it simply proxy pass it to and return back the response. The whole process is hidden from the users on the demo page.

Using iframes for cross-domain ajax requests
Another method of achieving sub-domain ajax requests is by using iframes. However, javascript does not allow communication between two frames if they don’t have same document.domain. The simplest of the hacks to make this communication possible is to set document.domain of the iframe same as that of the parent frame.

Demo Link for Sub-Domain Ajax using iFrames

In this demo, I will make a sub-domain request to To make this possible, I load an iframe with src="" and set document.domain=""; for the iframe.


<script type="text/javascript" src=""></script>
<script type="text/javascript">
	jQuery(function($) {
		function getTimestamp() {
				function(data) {
					$('#iframe_ajax_data', top.document).html('Server time received through iframe ajax: '+data);

		document.domain = "";
		$('#link', top.document).click(function() {

In brief, iframe-demo.php sets an onclick event on $('#link' top.document) , which makes a sub-domain ajax request to


PHP tokens and opcodes : 3 useful extensions for understanding the working of Zend Engine

“PHP tokens and opcodes” – When a PHP script is executed it goes through a number of processes, before the final result is displayed. These processes are namely: Lexing, Parsing, Compiling and Executing. In this blog post, I will walk you through all these processes with a sample example. In the end I will list some useful PHP extensions, which can be used to analyze results of every intermediate process.

Lets take a sample PHP script as an example:

	function increment($a) {
		return $a+1;
	$a = 3;
	$b = increment($a);
	echo $b;

Try running this script through command line:

~ sabhinav$ php -r debug.php

This PHP script goes through the following processes before outputting the result:

  • Lexing: The php code inside debug.php is converted into tokens
  • Parsing: During this stage, tokens are processed to derive at meaningful expressions
  • Compiling: The derived expressions are compiled into opcodes
  • Execution: Opcodes are executed to derive at the final result

Lets see how a PHP script passes through all the above steps.

During this stage human readable php script is converted into token. For the first two lines of our PHP script:

	function increment($a) {

tokens will look like this (try to match the tokens below line by line with the above 2 lines of PHP code and you will get a feel):

~ sabhinav$ php -r 'print_r(token_get_all(file_get_contents("debug.php")));';
    [0] => Array
            [0] => 368             // 368 is the token number and it's symbolic name is T_OPEN_TAG, see below
            [1] => <?php

            [2] => 1

    [1] => Array
            [0] => 371
            [1] =>
            [2] => 2

    [2] => Array
            [0] => 334
            [1] => function
            [2] => 2

    [3] => Array
            [0] => 371
            [1] =>
            [2] => 2

    [4] => Array
            [0] => 307
            [1] => increment
            [2] => 2

    [5] => (
    [6] => Array
            [0] => 309
            [1] => $a
            [2] => 2

    [7] => )
    [8] => Array
            [0] => 371
            [1] =>
            [2] => 2

    [9] => {
    [10] => Array
            [0] => 371
            [1] =>

            [2] => 2

A list of parser tokens can be found here:

Every token number has a symbolic name attached with it. Below is our PHP script with human readable code replaced by symbolic name for each generated token:

~ sabhinav$ php -r '$tokens = (token_get_all(file_get_contents("debug.php"))); foreach($tokens as $token) { if(count($token) == 3) { echo token_name($token[0]); echo $token[1]; echo token_name($token[2]);  }  }';

Parsing and Compiling:
By generating the tokens in the above step, zend engine is able to recognize each and every detail in the script. Where the spaces are, where are the new line characters, where is a user defined function and what not. Over the next two stages, the generated tokens are parsed and then compiled into opcodes. Below is the compiled opcode for the complete sample script of ours:

~ sabhinav$ php -r '$op_codes = parsekit_compile_file("debug.php", $errors, PARSEKIT_SIMPLE); print_r($op_codes); print_r($errors);';
    [3] => ZEND_ASSIGN T(0) T(0) 3
    [6] => ZEND_SEND_VAR UNUSED T(0) 0x1
    [7] => ZEND_DO_FCALL T(1) 'increment' 0x83E710CA
    [9] => ZEND_ASSIGN T(2) T(0) T(1)
    [function_table] => Array
            [increment] => Array
                    [0] => ZEND_EXT_NOP UNUSED UNUSED UNUSED
                    [1] => ZEND_RECV T(0) 1 UNUSED
                    [2] => ZEND_EXT_STMT UNUSED UNUSED UNUSED
                    [3] => ZEND_ADD T(0) T(0) 1
                    [4] => ZEND_RETURN UNUSED T(0) UNUSED
                    [5] => ZEND_EXT_STMT UNUSED UNUSED UNUSED
                    [6] => ZEND_RETURN UNUSED NULL UNUSED


    [class_table] =>

As we can see above, Zend engine is able to recognize the flow of our PHP. For instance, [3] => ZEND_ASSIGN T(0) T(0) 3 is a replacement for $a = 3; in our PHP code. Read on to understand what do these T(0) in the opcode means.

Executing the opcodes:
The generated opcode is executed one by one. Below table shows various details as every opcode is executed:

~ sabhinav$ php -d -d vld.execute=0 -f debug.php
Branch analysis from position: 0
Return found
filename:       /Users/sabhinav/Workspace/interview/facebook/peaktraffic/debug.php
function name:  (null)
number of ops:  13
compiled vars:  !0 = $a, !1 = $b
line     #  op                           fetch          ext  return  operands
   2     0  EXT_STMT
         1  NOP
   5     2  EXT_STMT
         3  ASSIGN                                                   !0, 3
   6     4  EXT_STMT
         5  EXT_FCALL_BEGIN
         6  SEND_VAR                                                 !0
         7  DO_FCALL                                      1          'increment'
         8  EXT_FCALL_END
         9  ASSIGN                                                   !1, $1
   7    10  EXT_STMT
        11  ECHO                                                     !1
   8    12  RETURN                                                   1

Function increment:
Branch analysis from position: 0
Return found
filename:       /Users/sabhinav/Workspace/interview/facebook/peaktraffic/debug.php
function name:  increment
number of ops:  7
compiled vars:  !0 = $a
line     #  op                           fetch          ext  return  operands
   2     0  EXT_NOP
         1  RECV                                                     1
   3     2  EXT_STMT
         3  ADD                                              ~0      !0, 1
         4  RETURN                                                   ~0
   4     5* EXT_STMT
         6* RETURN                                                   null

End of function increment.

First table represents the main loop run, while second table represents the run of user defined function in the php script. compiled vars: !0 = $a tells us that internally while script execution !0 = $a and hence now we can relate [3] => ZEND_ASSIGN T(0) T(0) 3 very well.

Above table also returns back the number of operations number of ops: 13 which can be used to benchmark and performance enhancement of your PHP script.

If APC cache is enabled, it caches the opcodes and thereby avoiding repetitive lexing/parsing/compiling every time same PHP script is called.

3 PHP extensions providing interface to Zend Engine:
Below are 3 very useful PHP extensions for geeky PHP developers. (Specially helpful for all PHP extension developers)

  • Tokenizer: The tokenizer functions provide an interface to the PHP tokenizer embedded in the Zend Engine. Using these functions you may write your own PHP source analyzing or modification tools without having to deal with the language specification at the lexical level.
  • Parsekit: These parsekit functions allow runtime analysis of opcodes compiled from PHP scripts.
  • Vulcan Logic Disassembler (vld): Provides functionality to dump the internal representation of PHP scripts. Homepage of VLD project for download instructions.

Hope this is of some help for PHP geeks out there.

Introducing MemChat: Open source group chat framework in PHP supporting Memcached, APC, SQLite, Flat Files and MySQL

MemChat is an open source group chat framework for personal and enterprise level websites. Written in PHP, MemChat can be configured to run with Memcached, APC, SQLite, Flat files and MySQL as it’s storage engine. With memcached, APC and Flat files serving as temporary storages and MySQL, SQLites being permanent storage engines.

MemChat uses MemBurger API for storing all the incoming messages in the storage engine. MemBurger is an open source PHP wrapper for all the storage engines mentioned above providing Collapsed Forwarding and Stale-While-Revalidate functionality.

MemChat can also be configured to notify the site owners at various event handlers provided. e.g. In case of a wordpress blog, site owner might want to get notified when someone post a new message on one of the blog post. Infact developers can write plugins for custom event handlers. MemChat provides two kind of notification methods. By default, MemChat uses XMPP protocol to notify blog owners. For these kind of notifications, JAXL an open source Jabber XMPP Client Library is used to send instant messages as notifications. MemChat can also be configured to send notifications using SMTP protocol a.k.a EMail.

MemChat also comes with a profanity word filter using PHProfane library i.e. one can configure MemChat to block all spam messages posted in the chat rooms. Developers can write a plugin to add custom spam words in the profanity filter.

MemChat Flow Diagram:
Below is a flow diagram showing how all the above components are clubbed in as MemChat:
MemChat Workflow Diagram

MemChat use cases:
MemChat framework requires a unique alphanumeric id for each group you want to create. For example, WordPress blog makes a good environment to setup MemChat since every blog post have a unique id. Hence to setup MemChat on a wordpress blog all we need to do is, call

$memchat_ui_html = memchat_init($memchat_group_id);

method, where $memchat_group_id = Blog post id.

Similarly MemChat can be setup on a number of places as listed below:

  1. Forums: Since each forum have a unique id per discussion thread, MemChat suits well here. Forum owners can setup MemChat for allowing current viewing users of the thread to chat in real time. If using temporary storage engines (since they scale up well), forum owners can easily write event handlers to save chat messages asynchronously so that interesting discussions can be made a part of actual discussion thread.
  2. Social Networking Websites: A social network will generally have group pages, fan pages, event pages and application pages. Since all pages will have a unique id associated with them, MemChat is a good fit here. Simply pass $blog_id = “group-1234”, for setting up a chat room on group page having id 1234. Similarly for fan, event and application pages.
  3. Blogs: A blog as discussed above is a perfect place for setting up MemChat. WordPress blog owners will be able to setup MemChat on their blog using WP-Chat plugin.

Setting up MemChat in 3 steps:
MemChat can be setup in 3 simple steps:

  1. Download: MemChat is hosted on Google Code.
  2. Update Configuration: Update MemChat config file to setup various default behavior and actions.
  3. Initialize: Include MemChat class file in your PHP template.

    Next simply initialize MemChat

    $memchat_ui_html = memchat_init($memchat_group_id);

    which will return the user interface HTML code. Finally append it to your template and MemChat group is ready to serve.

The ease of setup can be imagine from the fact that, WP-Chat wordpress plugin development required only the above 3 steps. I was able to develop the plugin within 5 minutes.

MemChat Performance Benchmark
Initial benchmarking results show, On a single apache and single storage instance MemChat is capable of handling over 250 (MySQL) incoming chat messages per second. Capacity reaches in thousands when configured with Memcached or APC cache. Again Memcached configuration and APC no stat feature makes a difference in performance results.

Why still in alpha?
Yes, MemChat is still in alpha release. I want to test all MemChat features on a live traffic and hence I chose my blog for its testing. I have installed MemChat on my blog which is currently using APC cache as storage medium. Over two weeks or so I will configure MemChat with various other storage engines to have a final round of test. Also the event handler and PHProfane plugin feature is still under development. MemBurger API also requires a more modular design pattern so that extending it for any other storage types become trivial.

Try out MemChat on my blog, can be seen as a facebook type chat bar below. This will be soon available as WP-Chat plugin for wordpress blogs. WP-Chat user interface is customizable just like wordpress themes.

Let me know your views and suggestions for improvement.

My learnings while building “WP-Jazzed” – A new Jazzed up wordpress theme

Welcome the new wordpress theme “WPJazzed” for my blog. Seeing a plethora of jazzed up wordpress themes on web, I decided to start working on this new theme. In this blog post I will list my various findings while building “WPJazzed”.

Why a new theme?
I decided to move on with a new theme mainly because of the following reasons:

  • Helpful Feedbacks: I received feedbacks complaining about the unorganized structure of my previous theme and I do agree with them. 90% of my blog posts were under “Web Tutorial” category, leaving tags the only way to reach posts of interest.
  • Deciding the Niche: Many feedbacks pointed towards “What’s the targeted developer group of my blog?”. And indeed with no proper categorization and structure in place, its tough for a new user to identify the niche of my blog. Mainly because I have been blogging from javascript css fixes to memcached and libevent hacks
  • Boring googlish interfaces: As the world is coming out of the boring googlish interfaces and moving towards more jazzed up user interfaces, I decided to move on too.

So what’s the niche now?
Depending upon my blog archive and blogging interests, I finally came up with 7 categories as mentioned below:

  • PHP: Find all PHP related stuff (frameworking, PHP internals etc) under this category with a few exceptions (see below)
  • XMPP: All posts related to XMPP+Jabber technologies go under this category
  • WordPress: Find all wordpress hacks and How-To’s here. In case a post is related both to PHP and WordPress, it will be categorized under WordPress
  • Web Development: All posts related to HTML, Javascript, CSS, jQuery, Adobe AIR, Openlaszlo goes under this category
  • Open Source Projects: This category is dedicated to various open source project releases.
  • Memcached: This can be renamed to something like “High Scalability” in future as I plan to write more on memcached, mongodb, couchdb and related technologies
  • Tech News: All posts related to Google, Yahoo, Microsoft and other biggies fall under tech news

What’s new in WPJazzed?
Apart from the new look and feel, WPJazzed come in with:

  • Threaded Comments: I have utilized WordPress Threaded Comment plugin to enable replies on comments too.
  • Widgetized Sidebars: WPJazzed provide 2 type of custom sidebar widget layout. First one being a tabbed version and second one being a classic single column version.
  • Widgetized Footers: This is something which I explored recently. Allows you to update the footer section through the theme option panel with no HTML or CSS changes required
  • Open Source Project Download Plugin: Developed a custom plugin for showing my open source project download count. It is still in alpha mode.
  • New logo: Finally I have a logo for my blog. A very basic one built using using pixlr online photo editing and building tool

Lessons learnt while building WPJazzed
Below are a learnings from the whole process of building WPJazzed:

  • Resizing Post Images: I decided to shrink the post content column width and that’s where the real trouble starts. I saw my older post images were overflowing the column. Below is the jQuery hack for resizing post images:
     /* Image width in the posts can be max 550px */
    $(window).load(function() {
    	$('div.singleEntry img').each(function() {
    		current_width = $(this).width();
    		current_height = $(this).height();
    		aspect_ratio = current_width/current_height;
    		if(current_width > 540) {
    			new_height = 540/aspect_ratio;
  • Threaded comment hack: I also had to customize the threaded comment plugin javascript file since I wanted to change the default behavior of the plugin, which also copies the comment form heading. Here is the small hack done at the end of movecfm function:
    	if(jQuery('#commentform').children('h6').css('display') == 'none') {
    		jQuery('#commentform').children('h6').css('display', 'block');
    	else {
           return true;

Is WPJazzed released for public domain?
Not yet but YES will be released soon. There are still a few issues and optimization that I want to make before releasing WPJazzed for public domain. Also I wanted to test it against a real traffic before public release.

Do report any layout or functionality bug which you might encounter.
Leave your feedbacks and suggestions for the new theme.

PS: WP-Jazzed is not tested on IE6 (since I don’t have one) and will not be.

How to use JAXL (Jabber XMPP Library in PHP) to import Gtalk contacts of any user

JAXL is an open source Jabber XMPP Client library written in PHP. It provides a self titled class JAXL which implements XMPP protocol. It can be extended to write custom event handler for every message or presence received. Developers are using JAXL for developing real time applications. Checkout 5 exciting gaming bots you can make using JAXL.

However one thing which goes un-noticed is that JAXL can also be used to import Gtalk contacts of any user. This is infact one of the very first thing which JAXL class do, after successful authentication with the Gtalk servers i.e. import the authenticated user contact list. In this blog post I will demo a sample script to import any user contact list from google servers.

Importing Gtalk contacts using JAXL

  1. Download and extract jaxl-1.0.4.rar
  2. Edit config.ini.php and update credentials of the user whose contact list we are trying to import:
      $key = array("prod"=>array("user"=>"mailsforabhinav",
  3. Open jaxl.class.php and modify the code as below:
        function setStatus() {
          // Set a custom status or use $this->status
          print "Setting Status...n";
          print_r($this->rosterlist); // Print the contact list on the console
          print "Donen";
  4. Finally run from command line to retrieve gtalk contacts of the authenticated user.
    php index.php

One can easily modify the above code to save user contacts in a database.
Also one can echo json_encode($this->rosterlist) in response to an Ajax call from the browser.

Enjoy and leave your comments.

Writing a custom unix style tail in PHP using Libevent API on Mac OS X 10.5.x and other platforms

Libevent is a library which provides a mechanism to execute a callback function when a specific event occurs on a file descriptor or after a timeout has been reached. Many famous applications/frameworks/libraries like memcached are using libevent. In this blog post, I will demonstrate how to write a custom unix style tail script using Libevent API in PHP.

Setting up the environment:
Setting up libevent with PHP is a little tricky. Below are the steps, I followed to make it work on Mac OSX 10.5. However the steps should be same for any other OS you choose to code on. Here we go:

  1. Check the version of libevent installed on your system. If you don’t have libevent or the installed version is < 1.4, you will need to compile libevent-1.4.x
    ~ sabhinav$ port list | grep libevent
    libevent                       @1.4.12         devel/libevent
  2. Uninstall existing libevent
    ~ sabhinav$ port uninstall libevent
  3. Add the following into your .bash_profile file:
    export CFLAGS="-arch x86_64 -g -Os -pipe -no-cpp-precomp"
    export CCFLAGS="-arch x86_64 -g -Os -pipe"
    export CXXFLAGS="-arch x86_64 -g -Os -pipe"
    export LDFLAGS="-arch x86_64 -bind_at_load"
  4. Open a new terminal window. Download and extract libevent-1.4.12-stable
    ~ sabhinav$ wget
    ~ sabhinav$ tar -xvzf libevent-1.4.12-stable.tar.gz
  5. Compile libevent-1.4.12-stable
    ~ sabhinav$ cd libevent-1.4.12-stable
    ~ sabhinav$ ./configure
    ~ sabhinav$ make
    ~ sabhinav$ sudo make install
  6. Assuming you have a successful installation, lets install PECL package libevent-0.0.2.
    ~ sabhinav$ pecl download libevent-0.0.2
    ~ sabhinav$ tar -xvzf libevent-0.0.2.tgz libevent-0.0.2
    ~ sabhinav$ cd libevent-0.0.2
    ~ sabhinav$ phpize
    ~ sabhinav$ ./configure
    ~ sabhinav$ make
    ~ sabhinav$ sudo make install
  7. Enable libevent extension in your php.ini
  8. Reload apache server
    ~ sabhinav$ sudo apachectl restart
  9. Confirm we have libevent extension enabled using phpinfo(); or
    ~ sabhinav$ php -i | grep libevent

Writing a custom unix style tail script in PHP (tail.php)
Below is a sample script which can be used as a base for writing custom unix style tail script. Comments in the code will help you understanding the flow of the code. Also do view official documentation for PHP Libevent extension usage.


	// callback function called whenever the registered event is triggered
	function eventFd($fd, $events, $arg) {
		echo fread($fd, 4096);

	// create event base
	$base_fd = event_base_new();

	// create a new event
	$event_fd = event_new();

	// resource to be monitored
	$fd = fopen($argv[1], 'r');

	// set event on passed file name
	event_set($event_fd, $fd, EV_WRITE | EV_PERSIST, 'eventFd', array($event_fd, $base_fd));

	// associate base with this event
	event_base_set($event_fd, $base_fd);

	// register event

	// start event loop


Trying out tail.php
Save the above code file and issue the following on the terminal:

~ sabhinav$ php tail.php /var/log/apache2/access_log

Try accessing a page on your webserver and you should see the access log being tailed by the php script. 😀