A library for simplifying the PHAR build process.

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1.6.1 2014-12-03 23:26 UTC


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Box is a library built on the Phar class. It is designed to make it easier to create new phars and modifying existing ones. Features include compacting source files, better custom stub generation, and better OpenSSL signing handling.


use Herrera\Box\Box;
use Herrera\Box\StubGenerator;

$box = Box::create('test.phar');




Add it to your list of Composer dependencies:

$ composer require herrera-io/box=1.*


The Box library includes many features and some are designed so that they can be used independently of each other. This is done to allow the phar builder better control of the phar building process.

Compacting Source Files

Box makes uses of source file "compactors". A compactor is simply a class that checks if the given file is supported, then manipulates its contents to make it smaller. I will later cover how to actually use them in Finally, Building Phars.

There are two ways of creating a compactor class: implement the CompactorInterface interface, or extend the Compactor abstract class.

Implementing CompactorInterface

The CompactorInterface interface only requires that you implement two methods in your class: compact($contents) and support($file). The $contents argument is the contents of the source file, and the $file argument is the full path to the file. How you determine which file types are supported is entirely up to you.

In this example, this custom compactor will only modify files that end in .php, and remove whitespace from the end of each line:

namespace Example\Compactor;

use Herrera\Box\Compactor\CompactorInterface;

 * My example compactor.
class RemoveWhitespace implements CompactorInterface
     * Seek and destroy (whitespaces).
     * @param string $source The source code.
     * @return string The compacted source code.
    public function compact($source)
        return preg_replace('/[ \t]+$/m', '', $source);

     * Make sure we support it.
     * @param string $file The file path.
     * @return boolean Returns TRUE if supported, FALSE if not.
    public function supports($file)
        return ('php' === pathinfo($file, PATHINFO_EXTENSION));
Extending Compactor

An abstract compactor class is included that handles file type checking for you. You simply need to provide the default list of file extensions supported. These extension can be overwritten later if necessary, by the developer using them.

This example is a variation of the previous example compactor:

namespace Example\Compactor;

use Herrera\Box\Compactor\Compactor;

 * My example compactor.
class RemoveWhitespace extends Compactor
     * The default supported file extensions.
     * @var array
     protected $extensions = array('php');

     * Seek and destroy (whitespaces).
     * @param string $source The source code.
     * @return string The compacted source code.
    public function compact($source)
        return preg_replace('/[ \t]+$/m', '', $source);

Developers can later change the supported file extensions by calling the Compactor->setExtensions() method:

$example = new Example\Compactor\RemoveWhitespace();

Bundled Compactors

The library has two compactors bundled for your convenience.

Compacting JavaScript

The JavaScript compactor will minify JavaScript files, but requires the tedivm/jshrink packages to work. This is included when you install the Box library.

use Herrera\Box\Compactor\Javascript;

$compactor = new Javascript();
Compacting JSON

The JSON compactor is very simple to use as there are no options to configure. However, the json extension is required to use it. All extra whitespace is removed from .json files.

use Herrera\Box\Compactor\Json;

$compactor = new Json();
Compacting PHP

The PHP compactor will strip all comments whitespace from .php files. Comments that are removed will be removed with an the same number of line breaks as the original comment. This is done in order to preserve the line number that is reported when errors occur in the phar.

use Herrera\Box\Compactor\Php;

$compactor = new Php();

If you make use of Doctrine formatted annotations, you can also make use of a special feature within the Php compactor. To compact comments and preserve annotations, you will need to install the herrera-io/annotations library and create an instance of Tokenizer.

use Herrera\Annotations\Tokenizer;

$compactor->setTokenizer(new Tokenizer());

Both line count and annotation data is preserved.

Managing Signatures

The Phar class provides an easy way of extracting and verifying a phar's signature. Simply instantiating the class will verify the phar in question. However, the phar extension is required to do either task. The Box library includes a way to extract and verify signatures without the use of the extension.

use Herrera\Box\Exception\SignatureException;
use Herrera\Box\Signature;

$sig = new Signature('/path/to/my.phar');

// same output as Phar->getSignature()
$signature = $sig->get();

try {
    // TRUE if passed, FALSE if failed
    $result = $sig->verify();
} catch (SignatureException $exception) {
    // the signature could not be verified

The Signature::create() method is an alias to Signature::__construct() which allows for a shorthand version of the above example:

if (Signature::create('/path/to/my.phar')->verify()) {
    // do the do

The purpose of being able to verify a phar without having the extension available is more prudent in nature. In sensitive environments without the extension available, a dev or sys admin may want to verify the integrity of a phar they are using before making it available on the system.

Extracting Phars

In addition to being able to verify a phar's signature without the extension, you can also extract its contents. This feature is primarily designed to be embedded as part of a custom stub, but it can also be used to extract any phar.

use Herrera\Box\Extract;

$extract = new Extract('/path/to/my.phar', 65538);


The first argument for the constructor is the path to the existing phar. The second being the length of the stub. This second argument is required in order for the Extract class to know where the phar's manifest begins. Usually, this value is generated by the Phar class when the default stub is used.

If the value is unknown, the Extract class can be used to make a best guess effort by calling the Extract::findStubLength() method. If the stub length is incorrectly guessed, the Extract class will thrown an exception at some point during the extraction process.

By default, the Extract->go() method will create a temporary directory path and extract the contents of the phar there. The directory path specified in the example is optional.

In order to reduce overhead, the Extract class will not re-extract the phar if a special file exists in the target directory. This is used to speed up the execution process for phars that were executed without the phar extension.

Note that if any of the files within the phar were compressed using either gzip or bzip2, their respective extensions will be required for decompression. If the required extension is not installed, the Extract class will throw an exception.

Generating Stubs

If appropriate for the project, a custom stub can be generated by the Box library. You will have control over the following functions in the stub:

  • Setting an alias.
  • Setting a "banner" comment (such as a copyright statement).
  • Embed the Extract class to support self-extraction.
  • Setting the CLI index script.
  • Enabling the use of Phar::interceptFileFuncs().
  • Setting the file mimetypes.
  • Setting the list of server variables to "mung".
  • Setting the 404 script.
  • Setting the "shebang" line.
  • Opting the user of Phar::webPhar() over Phar::mapPhar().

The following is an example of a stub generated with all of the settings used:

use Herrera\Box\StubGenerator;

$generator = new StubGenerator();

$banner = <<<BANNER
Copyright (c) 2013 Some Dude

Some license text here.

$mimetypes = array(
    'phps' => Phar::PHP

$rewrite = <<<REWRITE
function rewrite_url(\$uri)
    return \$rewritten;

$stub = $generator

And the resulting stub:

 * Copyright (c) 2013 Some Dude
 * Some license text here.
define('BOX_EXTRACT_PATTERN_OPEN', "__HALT" . "_COMPILER(); ?>\r\n");
if (class_exists('Phar')) {
Phar::webPhar('test.phar', 'bin/cli.php', 'lib/404.php', array (
  'phps' => 0,
), 'function rewrite_url($uri)
    return $rewritten;
Phar::mungServer(array (
  0 => 'REQUEST_URI',
} else {
$extract = new Extract(__FILE__, Extract::findStubLength(__FILE__));
$dir = $extract->go();
set_include_path($dir . PATH_SEPARATOR . get_include_path());
require "$dir/bin/cli.php";
// ... snip ...


For the sake of brevity, the embedded Extract class was replaced with "... snip ...".

The example stub is likely overkill for what you need. By not using the extract() method, you can easily shave a few hundred lines of code from your stub, reducing its size, but you will lose the ability to execute the phar in an environment without the phar extension.

Finally, Building Phars

All these features are great, but they're even better when used together in the Box class. The Box class is designed to automatically integrate all of these features in a (hopefully) simple to use interface.

There are two ways of instantiating the class:

user Herrera\Box\Box;

// use an existing Phar instance
$box = new Box($phar);

// or create one
$box = Box::create('/path/to/my.phar');

Note that the Box::create() method accepts the same arguments as the Phar::__construct() method.

Registering Compactors

Whether you are using the bundled compactors or your own, you will need to call the Box->addCompactor() method to register your class with Box. All files added to the phar using Box will be automatically run through the supported compactors.

use Herrera\Box\Compactor\Json;
use Herrera\Box\Compactor\Php;

$box->addCompactor(new Json());
$box->addCompactor(new Php());
Using Placeholder Values

The Box class offers the ability to search and replace placeholder values in added files. Keep in mind that only scalar values are supported for any replacements.

        'match' => 'replace'

With the above value to match, the following code:

$myCode = 'This @match@ is now "replace".';

will be added to the phar as:

$myCode = 'This replace is now "replace".';
Adding Files

To actually make use of the registered compactors and set placeholder value replacements, you will need to use the Box class's methods for adding files. The methods are identical to that of the Phar class, but automatically apply the appropriate compactors and replacements:

  • Box->addFile()
  • Box->addFromString()
  • Box->buildFromDirectory()
  • Box->buildFromIterator()

Note that if you need you need to add a file without any alterations (such as a binary file), you may need to add the file directly using the Phar instance:

$phar = $box->getPhar();

Setting the Stub

The Box class offers a simple way of adding a stub sourced from a file, and also applying the placeholder replacements at the same time:

$box->setStubUsingFile('/path/to/stub.php', true);

The second argument indicates that replacements should be performed on the stub. If you leave it out, it will default to false which means that no replacements will be performed and the stub will be used as is.

Private Key Signing

The Box class offers two simple ways of signing the phar using a private key. Either method will, however, require the availability of the openssl extension.

With a String

If you have already loaded the private key as a string variable, you can use the Box->sign() method.

$box->sign($key, $pass);

The password is only required if the key was generated with a password.

With a File

You can also sign the phar using a private key contained with a file.

$box->signUsingFile($file, $pass);