Thursday, December 24, 2009

Progressive Upload with PHP and APC

A year or two ago, I was given the task to make a Progress Bar work with PHP. From my own research a few years ago, this task was impossible and so I thought I would need some sort of Flash + Javascript + PHP combination to make this happen.

Until now.

I found a nice recipe from IBM that actually makes this process much simpler. It's by using a simple PECL extension called Alternative PHP Cache (APC for short). This brilliantly simple extension allows us to FINALLY be able to monitor file upload progress! I read the tutorial and right away, I was throwing my fists into the air: it's finally possible to do progress bars with PHP WITHOUT THE NEED OF CGI !!!!

For anyone who has ever run into this issue, you are probably the only ones to truly respect this awesome new toy. What's even more bizarre is that this functionality has been out since PHP 5.2 and this is truly the first I've ever heard about it.

My problems though soon caught up with me. Apparently IBM's little "tutorial" is a little short-winded and doesn't exactly cover all the bases that are needed to make this new extension work. So, being the great guy I am, I decided to write a step-by-step tutorial on how to use this for the weak at heart.



First, you need to get the APC module. There are 2 downloads available:
Linux and Windows

* Please note that the Windows link above may be broken as the team is trying to move this box over to a new server... *

Next, you need to Install the modue.

-- FreeBSD/Linux Users only --
First things first: you'll need root to make all this work, so su into the root user.

After downloading the APC package (I downloaded the 3.0.18 stable bundle), you need to unpackage it. Once you have untar'ed the file, you need to cd into the apc directory and run the following set of commands:

./configure --enable-apc --enable-mmap
make install
cp modules/ /usr/local/lib/php/
The phpize command is used to prepare the build environment for a PHP extension. If you don't have phpize installed, you will want to do so via RPM, ports, or whatever method your nix distro supports.

Here are some commands for a few linux distros:

Fedora Core x:
yum -y install php-devel
Gentoo Click here for the gentoo quick guide

FreeBSD Installed by default with PHP

I can't cover them all, but these 3 seem to be the most popular (along with Ubuntu but I'm not familiar with it)

Next, you'll need to open the php.ini file to make a few quick changes.

vi /usr/local/etc/php.ini
Locate where the Windows Extensions are loaded (yes I know you aren't using Winblows, but you'll see what I'm getting at next).

Below the ;extension=php_zip.dll line, add a new line and enter the following extension:
Return a few lines down and enter the following:

Now, you do NOT have to use 200M. I simply did to test out uploading huge 191M video files to see if this progress bar truly works. Adjust this to suit your own personal needs.

Finally, save the file and exit by typing:

You'll need the bang(!) because php.ini is by default a read-only file.

The last step now is just to restart apache:

apachectl restart
apachectl is the command that restarts Apache in FreeBSD. However, it may or may not be available in your distro/PATH (user's profile) so you may need to browse into that directory and run the appropriate server command used in your distro (example: /etc/ -k restart).

Since I have never done this on windows, I'm just going to copy/paste IBM's installation method here. NOTICE: It's asking you to use the WAMP install package, but most developers here manually have their's installed. If you have issues, just post it here and we'll see if a solution can't be found.


APC is not enabled by default in PHP V5.2. Since the new hooks are a part of APC, we need to make sure to install the extension and make it available to the PHP interpreter. This is accomplished by downloading the php_apc extension files. In our case, we are using an installation of WAMP, a freely available packaged PHP for Windows®, which includes Apache and MySQL. It offers a nice user interface and is easy to manage with menus that support configuration options.

To set up APC on WAMP:

1. See Resources to download the libraries and WAMP.
2. Install WAMP.
3. Put the php_apc.dll file in the extensions folder for PHP. This is /php/ext by default.
4. Use the system tray WAMP menu to select PHP settings>PHP Extensions>Add Extension.
5. In the command-line interface that pops up, type php_apc.dll and press Enter.
6. Using a text editor, open /php/php.ini and add the line apc.rfc1867 = on (it doesn't matter where). If you're trying to test locally and plan to upload large files so you can actually see progress, you'll also want to add the following directives: apc.max_file_size = 200M, upload_max_filesize = 200M, and post_max_size = 200M. Don't do this on a live production server, though, or you're likely to use up bandwidth and disk space allotments, not to mention slowing everyone else down to a crawl.
7. Restart the webserver.

APC should now be set up and initialized. The RFC1867 features of APC — the features that enable you to track file uploads — should now be enabled as an option, and you should be ready to look into our file uploads to enable real-time status.

If you have trouble installing this on windows, just post and I'm sure we can figure it out. In the meantime, I think these steps are self-explanatory enough to get you started.


Testing out the installation

Testing out the installation is pretty simple. Just go into the directory where you initially unpackaged the APC bundle and find the file apc.php. Copy this file into your docroot and open it up in your browser. If the installation worked, you should see a big long explanation about all of APC's features, along with a nice pie chart if the GD library is also installed.


Making A Progress Bar Test

Finally, we're ready to test out this progress bar stuff! It's very freaking easy, and I'm first going to just give you all the code you'll need.



$id = uniqid("");
<head><title>Upload Example</title>
<script type="text/javascript">
function getProgress() {
CDownloadUrl('get', "getprogress.php?progress_key=<?php echo($id)?>",
function(percent) {
document.getElementById("progressinner").style.width = percent+"%";
if (percent < 100) {
setTimeout("getProgress()", 100);

function CDownloadUrl(method, url, func) {
var httpObj;
var browser = navigator.appName;
if(browser.indexOf("Microsoft") > -1)
httpObj = new ActiveXObject("Microsoft.XMLHTTP");
httpObj = new XMLHttpRequest();, url, true);
httpObj.onreadystatechange = function() {
if(httpObj.readyState == 4) {
if(httpObj.status == 200) {
var contenttype = httpObj.getResponseHeader('Content-Type');
if(contenttype.indexOf('xml')>-1) {
} else {
} else {
func('Error: '+httpObj.status);

function startProgress(){
setTimeout("getProgress()", 1000);

<iframe id="theframe" name="theframe" src="upload.php?id=<?php echo($id); ?>" style="border: none;
height: 100px; width: 400px;" > </iframe><br/><br/>
<div id="progress_win"></div>

<div id="progressouter" style="width: 500px; height: 20px; border: 6px solid red; display:none;">
<div id="progressinner" style="position: relative; height: 20px; background-color: purple;
width: 0%;"></div>



$id = $_GET['id'];
<form enctype="multipart/form-data" id="upload_form" action="target.php" method="POST">
<input type="hidden" name="APC_UPLOAD_PROGRESS" id="progress_key" value="<?php echo $id?>"/>
<input type="file" id="test_file" name="test_file"/><br/>
<input onclick="window.parent.startProgress(); return true;" type="submit" value="Upload!"/>


$filename = $_FILES["test_file"]["tmp_name"];
$destination = "/path/to/apache22/data/progressbar/uploads/" . $_FILES["test_file"]["name"];
move_uploaded_file($filename, $destination);
echo "<p>File uploaded. Thank you!</p>";


header('Expires: Mon, 26 Jul 1997 05:00:00 GMT');
header("Last-Modified: " . gmdate("D, d M Y H:i:s") . " GMT");
header('Cache-Control: no-store, no-cache, must-revalidate');
header('Cache-Control: post-check=0, pre-check=0', FALSE);
header('Pragma: no-cache');

if(isset($_GET['progress_key'])) {
$status = apc_fetch('upload_'.$_GET['progress_key']);
echo $status['current']/$status['total']*100;

Some Explaining to Do

First, let me say that the above code is direct code examples from IBM, but altered a little bit to make our lives much simpler.

In the first file, progress.php, IBM originally had a Google MAPS API work-around using the GDownloadUrl function. As anyone knows who has tried to use this behind a firewalled web server, you can't validate your KEY (i.e.: <script src="" type="text/javascript"></script>) without Google being able to access your server. Since this is true, the now awesome GDownloadUrl function is unusable. Fortunately I found the same idea they use for this function already exists in a separate implementation called CDownloadUrl that does not require Google Authentication. As I suspected, it's basically just an XHTTPRequest method that asks for the results of getprogress.php

Also in progress.php there is a bit of confusion as to what exactly the $id value does. Well, the $id value, even though it appears blank, is anything but. It holds a unique ID value, so that we can track our current session without worrying about compromising it with someone else's results. To see it's value, just put "echo $id;" somewhere after the tag to view its result.

Next, is target.php. This file basically just tells our application WHERE to store the new Uploaded file.

Finally, getprogress.php. In this file is one more foreign entry that IBM does not give you: no-caching.

header('Expires: Mon, 26 Jul 1997 05:00:00 GMT');
header("Last-Modified: " . gmdate("D, d M Y H:i:s") . " GMT");
header('Cache-Control: no-store, no-cache, must-revalidate');
header('Cache-Control: post-check=0, pre-check=0', FALSE);
header('Pragma: no-cache');
We HAVE to put the no-cache statement in there for this to work in both Firefox and IE 6+. IE 7 (maybe IE 6, I haven't tested this in that browser yet) CACHES your value. So unless you put this no-cache statement in there, the result you are going to see is the progress bar jump 1 time only (usually around 4-7% on big files or 90% to 100% on smaller files). This is because once IE's Ajax call retrieves the value once, it freaking caches the value and just sits there. And this little annoyance smurf ME OFF (sorry, but it did). I can't believe that not only I have to put hacks in place for IE in css, but now also because it caches VALUES when I don't want it to??????? Sigh........



Run the progress bar example. It works. Works like a freaking dream!! I couldn't believe it but it has finally made me smile once again

It should also be noted here that APC is NOT just for progressive uploads, but instead a caching service. We're basically just using APC's caching ability in order to grant us the nice method of progressive uploads...

Anyways, I hope you enjoyed this tutorial. Take it easy.


What's new in PHP V5.2, Part 5: Tracking file upload progress
PHP Manaul for APC
CDownloadURL Javascript Function

@author: Jonathon Hibbard

I originally wrote this article in April, 2008, which can be found here.

No comments:

Post a Comment