CascadiaPHP 2024

Getting started building a mysqlnd plugin

It is important to remember that a mysqlnd plugin is itself a PHP extension.

The following code shows the basic structure of the MINIT function that will be used in the typical mysqlnd plugin:

/* my_php_mysqlnd_plugin.c */

 static PHP_MINIT_FUNCTION(mysqlnd_plugin) {
  /* globals, ini entries, resources, classes */

  /* register mysqlnd plugin */
  mysqlnd_plugin_id = mysqlnd_plugin_register();

  conn_m = mysqlnd_get_conn_methods();
  memcpy(org_conn_m, conn_m,
    sizeof(struct st_mysqlnd_conn_methods));

  conn_m->query = MYSQLND_METHOD(mysqlnd_plugin_conn, query);
  conn_m->connect = MYSQLND_METHOD(mysqlnd_plugin_conn, connect);
/* my_mysqlnd_plugin.c */

 enum_func_status MYSQLND_METHOD(mysqlnd_plugin_conn, query)(/* ... */) {
  /* ... */
enum_func_status MYSQLND_METHOD(mysqlnd_plugin_conn, connect)(/* ... */) {
  /* ... */

Task analysis: from C to userspace

 class proxy extends mysqlnd_plugin_connection {
  public function connect($host, ...) { .. }
mysqlnd_plugin_set_conn_proxy(new proxy());


  1. PHP: user registers plugin callback

  2. PHP: user calls any PHP MySQL API to connect to MySQL

  3. C: ext/*mysql* calls mysqlnd method

  4. C: mysqlnd ends up in ext/mysqlnd_plugin

  5. C: ext/mysqlnd_plugin

    1. Calls userspace callback

    2. Or original mysqlnd method, if userspace callback not set

You need to carry out the following:

  1. Write a class "mysqlnd_plugin_connection" in C

  2. Accept and register proxy object through "mysqlnd_plugin_set_conn_proxy()"

  3. Call userspace proxy methods from C (optimization - zend_interfaces.h)

Userspace object methods can either be called using call_user_function() or you can operate at a level closer to the Zend Engine and use zend_call_method().

Optimization: calling methods from C using zend_call_method

The following code snippet shows the prototype for the zend_call_method function, taken from zend_interfaces.h.

 ZEND_API zval* zend_call_method(
  zval **object_pp, zend_class_entry *obj_ce,
  zend_function **fn_proxy, char *function_name,
  int function_name_len, zval **retval_ptr_ptr,
  int param_count, zval* arg1, zval* arg2 TSRMLS_DC

Zend API supports only two arguments. You may need more, for example:

 enum_func_status (*func_mysqlnd_conn__connect)(
  MYSQLND *conn, const char *host,
  const char * user, const char * passwd,
  unsigned int passwd_len, const char * db,
  unsigned int db_len, unsigned int port,
  const char * socket, unsigned int mysql_flags TSRMLS_DC

To get around this problem you will need to make a copy of zend_call_method() and add a facility for additional parameters. You can do this by creating a set of MY_ZEND_CALL_METHOD_WRAPPER macros.

Calling PHP userspace

This code snippet shows the optimized method for calling a userspace function from C:

/* my_mysqlnd_plugin.c */

  MYSQLND *conn, const char *host /* ... */ TSRMLS_DC) {
  enum_func_status ret = FAIL;
  zval * global_user_conn_proxy = fetch_userspace_proxy();
  if (global_user_conn_proxy) {
    /* call userspace proxy */
    ret = MY_ZEND_CALL_METHOD_WRAPPER(global_user_conn_proxy, host, /*...*/);
  } else {
    /* or original mysqlnd method = do nothing, be transparent */
    ret = org_methods.connect(conn, host, user, passwd,
          passwd_len, db, db_len, port,
          socket, mysql_flags TSRMLS_CC);
  return ret;

Calling userspace: simple arguments

/* my_mysqlnd_plugin.c */

  /* ... */, const char *host, /* ...*/) {
  /* ... */
  if (global_user_conn_proxy) {
    /* ... */
    zval* zv_host;
    ZVAL_STRING(zv_host, host, 1);
    MY_ZEND_CALL_METHOD_WRAPPER(global_user_conn_proxy, zv_retval, zv_host /*, ...*/);
    /* ... */
  /* ... */

Calling userspace: structs as arguments

/* my_mysqlnd_plugin.c */

MYSQLND_METHOD(my_conn_class, connect)(
  MYSQLND *conn, /* ...*/) {
  /* ... */
  if (global_user_conn_proxy) {
    /* ... */
    zval* zv_conn;
    ZEND_REGISTER_RESOURCE(zv_conn, (void *)conn, le_mysqlnd_plugin_conn);
    MY_ZEND_CALL_METHOD_WRAPPER(global_user_conn_proxy, zv_retval, zv_conn, zv_host /*, ...*/);
    /* ... */
  /* ... */

The first argument of many mysqlnd methods is a C "object". For example, the first argument of the connect() method is a pointer to MYSQLND. The struct MYSQLND represents a mysqlnd connection object.

The mysqlnd connection object pointer can be compared to a standard I/O file handle. Like a standard I/O file handle a mysqlnd connection object shall be linked to the userspace using the PHP resource variable type.

From C to userspace and back

 class proxy extends mysqlnd_plugin_connection {
  public function connect($conn, $host, ...) {
    /* "pre" hook */
    printf("Connecting to host = '%s'\n", $host);
    return parent::connect($conn);

  public function query($conn, $query) {
    /* "post" hook */
    $ret = parent::query($conn, $query);
    printf("Query = '%s'\n", $query);
    return $ret;
mysqlnd_plugin_set_conn_proxy(new proxy());

PHP users must be able to call the parent implementation of an overwritten method.

As a result of subclassing it is possible to refine only selected methods and you can choose to have "pre" or "post" hooks.

Buildin class: mysqlnd_plugin_connection::connect()

/*  my_mysqlnd_plugin_classes.c */

 PHP_METHOD("mysqlnd_plugin_connection", connect) {
  /* ... simplified! ... */
  zval* mysqlnd_rsrc;
  MYSQLND* conn;
  char* host; int host_len;
  if (zend_parse_parameters(ZEND_NUM_ARGS() TSRMLS_CC, "rs",
    &mysqlnd_rsrc, &host, &host_len) == FAILURE) {
  ZEND_FETCH_RESOURCE(conn, MYSQLND* conn, &mysqlnd_rsrc, -1,
    "Mysqlnd Connection", le_mysqlnd_plugin_conn);
  if (PASS == org_methods.connect(conn, host, /* simplified! */ TSRMLS_CC))
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