[PHP] Compile an extension on Windows

I recently wrote a PHP extension and while the documentation is very clear on how to build it on Linux, there is not so much information on how to compile an extension on Windows.

This article explains how to build a PHP extension with Visual Studio.


This guide assumes that you wrote a “Hello World” PHP extension as described here and that you compiled it successfully on Linux.

To build your extension on Windows, you’ll need:

  1. Visual Studio (I tested with Visual Studio 2013 Update 4)
  2. The PHP source code (I tested with PHP 5.5.20)

In the rest of this article, I assume that:

  1. The PHP source code is located in C:\php-src
  2. Your “Hello World” extension source code is located in C:\MyPhpExtensions\hello

The build process on Linux

You should already familiar with the process, but here is a reminder:

  1. Install php-devel package
  2. Run phpize to generate the configure script from config.m4.
  3. Run ./configure --enable-hello to generate the Makefile
  4. Run make to build the extension

From config.m4 to config.w32

On Windows, config.m4 is replaced by config.w32 which has a different format.

Migrating from config.m4 to config.w32 is really straighforward, you just need to translate the automake syntax to JavaScript.

Here is a minimalist example:

ARG_ENABLE("hello", "Hello World support", "no");
if (PHP_HELLO != "no") {
    EXTENSION("hello", "php_hello.c", true);

Don’t forget the true as the third argument of the EXTENSION function, it means that we want a DLL instead of a static library.

If you need more information on the syntax, look at the existing config.w32 in the PHP source code.

From phpize to buildconf.bat

On Windows, you don’t call phpize but instead you call buildconf.bat.

Open a Visual Studio developer command prompt (either 64 or 32 bit), and run

cd C:\php-src
buildconf.bat --add-modules-dir=C:\MyPhpExtensions

buildconf.bat will scan each subfolder of C:\MyPhpExtensions looking for config.w32 files.

It will then generate a configure.bat.

From ./configure to configure.bat

The configure script that you used on Linux did exactly what you wanted: it just built the extension. But on Windows it’s different because the script is designed to build PHP itself.

You need to add command line options to configure.bat to build the minimum number of stuff, so as to make sure that you wont have to solve dependencies to external libraries

cd C:\php-src
configure.bat --disable-all --enable-cli --enable-hello

--disable-all is a shortcut for all the --disable-xxx and --without-xxx flags, --enable-cli enables back the PHP command line interface (ie php.exe) and --enable-hello enables your “Hello World” extension.

By default, this will create a “Thread Safe” build. If you want a non thread safe build, just add --disable-zts to the command line.

From Make to NMake

configure.bat generated a Makefile for the Microsoft version of Make.

To start the build, just run:


This will build your PHP extension, as well as php.exe. This is handy because you’ll need a php.exe that matches the configuration of your extension.

Indeed, in order to be loaded in PHP, your extension must match the PHP build in term of:

  1. word size (32 or 64 bits)
  2. thread safety (TS build or NTS build)
  3. compiler version (VS9, VS11 etc.)

If you really don’t need to build php.exe, you can use this command line:

nmake php_hello.dll

Thousands of warnings

During the compilation of PHP, the compiler issues a lot of warnings.

If you want to prevent this, just add the following file to c:\php-src\win32\build\config.w32:

ADD_FLAG('CFLAGS', ' /wd4005 /wd4267 /wd4244 ');
ADD_FLAG('CFLAGS_BD_ZEND', ' /wd4018 /wd4101 /wd4090 /wd4273 ');
ADD_FLAG('CFLAGS_BD_MAIN', ' /wd4018 /wd4090 ');
DEFINE('RC', '$(RC) /nologo /d _USING_V110_SDK71_');

Also, add the following line to C:\php-src\ext\standard\config.w32:

ADD_FLAG('CFLAGS_BD_EXT_STANDARD', ' /wd4047 /wd4018 ');

And finally, add this line to C:\php-src\sapi\cli\config.w32:

ADD_FLAG('CFLAGS_BD_SAPI_CLI', ' /wd4018 ');

Bonus: best resources on PHP extension development