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plc - Convert Perl program into a .NET application

NAME

plc - Convert Perl program into a .NET application

SYNOPSIS

plc [options] perlscript

plc [options] project

plc

plc --help

plc --version

DESCRIPTION

The PerlNET utility converts a Perl program into a .NET application. This utility combines a Perl program, all of the required Perl modules and a modified Perl interpreter into one binary unit. When the resulting application is run, it searches for modules within itself before searching the filesystem.

Most commonly, PerlNET is invoked with the name of the Perl program that you want converted as an argument. This produces a working application. Some of the options described below make it possible to control which modules are included and how the generated application behaves.

If PerlNET is invoked without arguments, the graphical interface is displayed. If invoked with the --version or --help option, it will print the corresponding message and exit.

OPTIONS

The following command-line options are supported. Options can be abbreviated for uniqueness (shortened only to the point that they are still distinct from other options).

@file
If the command line contains arguments that start with @, then PerlNET replaces each one of these with the arguments parsed from the corresponding file.

--add modules
List additional modules to include in the application. PerlNET also attempts to include modules that the listed modules depend on. Multiple modules can be separated by whitespace or a semicolon. This option can be repeated. For example:
    plc myscript.pl --add IO::Socket --add XML::Parser::Expat

...would include IO::Socket and XML::Parser in your application.

The --add option supports the following wildcard notations: --add Module::* includes Module::Foo, but neither Module itself nor Module::Foo::Bar. --add Module::** includes Module::Foo and Module::Foo::Bar, but not Module. --add Module:: works the same as --add Module;Module::**, including all of Module, Module::Foo and Module::Foo::Bar. Note that you may have to quote the * character to prevent wildcard expansion by your command shell.

--bind file
List an additional file to include in the application. The application can access this file at runtime through the PerlNET::get_bound_file() and PerlNET::extract_bound_file() functions. Separate multiple filenames with semicolons. This option can be repeated.

Additional options can be specified after the filename, within brackets and separated by commas:

   name[option1,option2,...]

Valid options are:

file=filename
Specifies the filesystem name of the file to be bound. Cannot be specified together with data. If neither file nor data is specified, then the bound name is used as the filesystem name as well.

data=text
File contents specified as literal text. Cannot be specified together with file.

text
The file will be read in text mode on Windows.

extract
The bound file is extracted into the TEMP directory upon application start. It is deleted when the application terminates. The extraction directory is added to the PATH environment variable. It is also added to the front of @INC.

mode=file permissions
Specifies the access mode for the file when extracted either by the extract option or the PerlNET::extract_bound_file() function. File permissions must be specified as an octal number (0555 by default); PerlNET implicitly calls chmod() after extracting the file to make sure it ends up with the right permission bits. The mode= prefix is optional.

Examples:

    --bind PerlEz.dll[file=\perl\bin\PerlEz.dll,extract]
    --bind data.txt[text,0777]

Note: Files bound using the extract suboption of --bind or extracted via PerlNET::extract_bound_file() are written to a a per-process temporary directory and are automatically deleted when the process ends. This occurs regardless of whether the --clean option is used.

--blib libpath
Similar to --lib, but it searches for a MakeMaker-like blib directory structure starting in libpath and working back up to five levels of '..'. If found, it adds both the lib and the arch part of the blib structure to the module search path.

--clean
Clean up object files that were extracted from the application at runtime. By default, these files are cached in the temporary directory to allow the next invocation of the application to start more quickly.

--debug host:port
Create a debugging application. It connects to a remote debugger at startup. The default host is '127.0.0.1' and the default port is ':2000'. Using a single dash '-' selects the standard Perl command-line debugger from the local Perl installation.

The special port name ':komodo' provides support for remote debugging with the ActiveState Komodo IDE (http://www.activestate.com/komodo-ide). Komodo uses a custom version of perl5db.pl. The path to this file must be made available to the application either via the PERL5LIB environment variable (for dependent applications) or via the --lib PerlNET command-line option (for freestanding applications). For example:

    plc --lib /path-to/komodo/perl/site/lib ...

Refer to the Komodo Remote Debugging documentation for additional information.

--dependent
Build a .NET application that loads modules installed with Perl on the target system. This option makes the application smaller, but it might not run correctly if Perl and/or the required modules are not installed on the target system.

Modules loaded from the directories specified with a --lib or --blib option are still included. This allows you to selectively include only some non-standard modules in your PerlNET generated application.

--env name=value
This option will override %ENV entries at runtime. If no value is specified, then the environment variable will be deleted. Example:
    plc --env API_KEY=123456 --env DEBUG=

This has the same effect as including the following block at the top of the script:

    BEGIN {
        $ENV{API_KEY} = "123456";
        delete $ENV{DEBUG};
    }

--exe filename
This option allows you to specify the filename to which the generated application will be written. By default, a name derived from the script name will be chosen.

If the argument for --exe ends with .app (i.e. is a Mac OS X application), the --gui option is implied.

--explain modules
For each module, explain why the module will be included in the application and then exit. No executable will be produced.

Multiple modules can be separated by whitespace or semi-colons. The special value all will make PerlNET explain all files it includes.

--force
Normally PerlNET asks for permission to overwrite an existing application. This option tells it to proceed without prompting for confirmation.

--freestanding
Build an executable that includes all modules required to run the program on the target system. This option is the default. Use the --dependent option to built a non-freestanding application.

--gui
Same as --target winexe, but provided for compatibility with PerlApp.

--help topic
Print this manpage and exit. If an optional topic is specified, only sections whose headings include the topic word are printed. Option names as topics must be specified without the leading dashes. Examples:
    plc --help FUNCTIONS
    plc --help bind

--icon filename
Associate icons with the application.

The filename given must be an .ico, .dll or .exe filename. For .dll and .exe files, the name can be followed by a comma and the icon number. The first icon in the file is ,0, the second ,1, etc. If the icon number is not provided, then ,0 is assumed. Separated multiple filenames with semicolons. This option can be repeated.

--info name = val ; ...
The arguments to this option is a sequence of name/value pairs that is used to initialize the version information of the generated application. Name/value pairs are separated by an equals sign, with each pair separated by a semicolon. Valid names are as follows, and are case-insensitive:
Comments
Comments or other information to be displayed for diagnostic purposes.

CompanyName
The name of the company that produced the file.

FileDescription
The file description presented to users (e.g. in a list box) when the user is choosing files to install.

FileVersion
The version number of the file in the form 'W.X.Y.Z' where W, X, Y, and Z are numbers in the range 0-65535. X, Y, and Z are optional and default to 0.

InternalName
The internal name of the file (e.g. a module name if the file is a dynamic-link library). If the file has no internal name, this string should be the same as the original filename, without an extension.

LegalCopyright
Copyright notices that apply to the file, including all notices, legal symbols, and copyright dates.

LegalTrademarks
Trademarks and registered trademarks that apply to the file, including the full text of all notices, legal symbols, and trademark numbers.

OriginalFilename
The original name of the file, not including a path. An application uses this information to determine whether a file has been renamed by a user. The format of the name depends on the filesystem for which the file was created.

ProductName
The name of the product.

ProductVersion
The version of the product with which the file is distributed in the form 'W.X.Y.Z' where W, X, Y, and Z are numbers in the range 0-65535. X, Y, and Z are optional and default to 0. Typically, the first number represents the major version number, the second represents the minor version number, the third represents the build number, and the last represents the private part number.

All values are taken as strings except FileVersion and ProductVersion, which must be in the form 'W.X.Y.Z' (where W, X, Y, and Z are numbers in the range 0-65535. X, Y, and Z are optional and default to 0).

--lib libpath
Add to the path where PerlNET looks for modules to include in the application. The libpath can contain multiple directories that are separated in the same way as the PATH environment variable. This option can be repeated.

PerlNET will automatically add architecture and version specific subdirectories the same way the Perl -I option and the Perl lib pragma do.

The content of the PERL5LIB environment variable is automatically added via an implicit --lib option.

--nocompress
Do not try to compress embedded modules and libraries. Compression produces a smaller application, but might slow down execution because the script and modules must be decompressed before they can be parsed.

--nologo
Suppress display of version and license information. This option has no effect when used with an evaluation license.

--norunlib
Specifies that the generated application does not use a runtime library directory. This is different from not specifying the --runlib option because the default runlib location is the directory where the application is stored.

--out filename
This option allows you to specify the filename to which the generated application will be written. This is an alias for the --exe option.

--perl perlpath
Use the given Perl executable with PerlNET. The perlpath should be the path to the perl program.

--reference libname
Reference metadata from assemblies in libname. The option can be repeated.

--runlib dirname
Specifies the location of the runtime library directory. This directory is added to @INC and the PATH environment variable at runtime. The runlib directory should normally be a relative path. It is resolved at runtime relative to the location of the executable and not relative to the current working directory. The default value for this option is "." (current directory). The --gui option on OS X changes this to <Application>.app/Contents/MacOS/.

The --norunlib option can be used to specify that no runlib directory should be used.

The runlib directory is also used to locate shared library files specified using the --use option.

The fully qualified path to the runlib directory is stored in the $PerlNET::RUNLIB variable.

--scan scriptname
Tells PerlNET to scan scriptname for additional module dependencies. scriptname itself is not included in the generated executable. Separate multiple scriptnames with a semicolon. The option can be repeated.

This option is being used to create a shared library that can be referenced by other applications with the --use option.

The --shared option must be used to grant other programs access to modules bundled in the current executable.

--script scriptname
Name of the Perl script to be converted into an executable.

If no --script option is specified, the argument to PerlNET is assumed to be the input script filename. Thus

    plc myscript.pl

...is equivalent to:

    plc --script myscript.pl

--shared mode
Specifies the sharing mode for the generated executable. Valid values for mode are "none", "private" or "public". The default, "none", prevents other applications from accessing modules bundled in this executable.

The "private" mode allows applications built with the same PDK license to access any bundled modules. This means that part of the license serial number is encoded in the generated executable. The accessing application must then also be built using the "private" sharing mode to enable serial number matching.

Shared libraries built with the "public" sharing mode can be accessed by all executables built by the PDK without restriction.

--target target_name
Specifies what kind of application to create. The target_name should be one of exe, winexe or library. The default target is exe.

--tmpdir path
Specify an alternate location for the /tmp directory. This can be used in scenarios where /tmp is not writeable (e.g. for some virtual web servers hosted by ISPs). This option should only be used with an absolute pathname.

Note: PerlNET does not automatically create this directory; it must exist before the application is run.

--trim modules
Prevents modules from being included in the executable. Prerequisites for these modules are excluded unless they are also referenced in other parts of the application.

Multiple modules can be separated by whitespace or a semicolon. This option can be repeated.

The --trim option supports the following wildcard notations: --trim Module::* excludes Module::Foo, but neither Module itself nor Module::Foo::Bar. --trim Module::** excludes Module::Foo and Module::Foo::Bar, but not Module. --trim Module:: works the same as --trim Module;Module::**, excluding all of Module, Module::Foo and Module::Foo::Bar. Note that you may have to quote the * character to prevent wildcard expansion by your command shell.

If a command explicitly adds and removes modules at the same time, modules added with --add will not be removed by --trim. The one exception to this rule is that modules added by the wildcard form of --add can be individually removed by using the non-wildcard form of --trim. For example --add Module::* --trim Module::Bar will bundle Module::Foo but not Module::Bar.

--trim-implicit
This prevents including core modules that are loaded implicitly by Perl on certain syntactic constructs. The following modules belong to this category and are always included unless this option is used:
    attributes
    Errno
    File::Glob
    PerlIO
    PerlIO::scalar
    Tie::Hash::NamedCapture

You can also use the --trim option to exclude these modules on a one-by-one basis.

--use libname
Specifies shared library file containing additional modules. Modules found in a shared library will are not included in the generated executable, reducing its size.

The libname argument can be specified using a full path name. At runtime, the library is located in the runtime library directory specified by the --runlib option. If the library cannot be found, the executable will not run.

If the shared library has been built as a "private" shared library, the application that is using it must be built with the "private" --shared option too.

Separte multiple libnames with semicolons. The option can be repeated.

--verbose
This option causes PerlNET to produce more diagnostic ouput when it runs. It reports which modules were included in the application and where the application was written.

Output lines prefixed with +++ are modules that were included. Lines prefixed with --- are dependent modules that were not included.

--warnings
Display all optional warnings in addition to error messages, which are always displayed. Most warnings will be about optional modules which may be required by other modules, but which are not installed on the machine.

The --verbose option automatically enables --warnings as well.

--version
Print the PerlNET version number and exit. Information about the current license is also printed.

--xclude
Don't include the perl dynamic library (perl514.dll, or perl516.dll on Windows, libperl.dylib on Mac OS X, and libperl.so on most other systems) in the generated application. This option makes the application smaller, but it will not run correctly unless the perl dynamic library corresponding to your ActivePerl version is present on the target system. The PDK license allows you to redistribute the perl dynamic library together with your application. It should be installed on the target system in the same directory as your application and not be put into a system directory on the PATH.

FUNCTIONS

The following functions are made available to the application created by PerlNET. They are available via the PerlApp:: namespace in addition to PerlNET::, to simplify sharing modules between PerlApp applications and PerlNET applications.

PerlNET::exe()
Returns the full path (including filename) to the running application.

PerlNET::extract_bound_file(FILENAME)
Writes the content of a bound file to the filesystem. The file is created in a temporary directory and is automatically deleted when the application terminates. The function returns the full filename of the temporary file created:
    my $datafile = "data.txt";
    my $filename = PerlNET::extract_bound_file($datafile);
    die "$datafile not bound to application\n" unless defined $filename;
    open(my $fh, $filename) or die "Can't open $datafile($filename)\n";

If the file is not bound, no file is created and extract_bound_file() returns undef.

extract_bound_file() always writes files in binmode. Therefore files bound with the [text] option are extracted with \n and not \r\n line endings.

PerlNET::get_bound_file(FILENAME)
Returns the content of files included in the executable with the --bind command-line option. Returns the whole file as a single string in scalar context or separate lines in list context, in which case lines are always split on newline (i.e. $/ is not considered).
    foreach my $line (PerlNET::get_bound_file("data.txt")) {
        # ... process $line ...
    }

If the file is not bound, get_bound_file() returns undef in scalar context or the empty list in list context.

VARIABLES

The following predefined variables are available to the application created by PerlNET.

All PerlNET:: variables documented here are also available via the PerlApp:: namespace

$PerlNET::BUILD
The $PerlNET::BUILD variable contains the PerlNET build number.

$PerlNET::PERL5LIB
The $PerlNET::PERL5LIB variable contains the value of the PERL5LIB environment variable. If that does not exist, it contains the value of the PERLLIB environment variable. If that one does not exists either, $PerlNET::PERL5LIB is undef.

$PerlNET::RUNLIB
The $PerlNET::RUNLIB variable contains the fully qualified path name to the runtime library directory specified by the --runlib option. If the --norunlib option is used, this variable is undef.

$PerlNET::TOOL
The $PerlNET::TOOL variable contains the string: "PerlNET", indicating that the currently running executable has been produced by the PerlNET tool.

$PerlNET::VERSION
The $PerlNET::VERSION variable contains the PerlNET version number: "major.minor.release", but not including the build number.

FILES

When the application built with PerlNET runs, it extracts its dynamic object files in the pdk-username subdirectory of the temporary directory. The temporary directory is located using the TEMP environment variable. It is also possible to hardcode the location with the --tmpdir command-line option.

If the application was built using the --clean option, PerlNET also appends the process id to the username when creating the temporary directory (e.g., pdk-username-1234). This avoids race conditions during cleanup. Unless the --clean option is used, extracted files are left behind when the application terminates. They are reused by later incarnations of the same application (or by other PDK-created executables).

ENVIRONMENT

Build Time

PerlNET uses the PERLNET_OPT environment variable to set default command-line options. PerlNET treats these options as if they were specified at the beginning of every PerlNET command line. Note: Perl must be in your PATH if you want to use PERLNET_OPT.

All directories specified in the PERL5LIB environment variable are treated as if they had been specified with the --lib command-line option. Therefore modules located in PERL5LIB directories will be included even in dependent applications. If PERL5LIB is not set, PerlNET will use the value of PERLLIB instead (just like regular Perl).

PerlNET will pipe the output of plc --help through the program specified in the PAGER environment variable if STDOUT is a terminal.

Run time

The following environment variables are not visible to the application built with PerlNET: PERL5LIB, PERLLIB, PERL5OPT, PERL5DB and PERL5SHELL.

The temporary extraction directory is automatically added to the PATH environment variable when a file is bound using the [extract] option.

DIAGNOSTICS

Error: Can't locate module.pm

When PerlNET can't locate a module that seems to be used or required by the application, it produces an error message:

    VMS\Stdio.pm:
        warn: Can't locate VMS\Stdio.pm
        refby: C:\perl\lib\File\Temp.pm

In general, PerlNET cannot determine whether a module is absolutely needed at runtime. For the error message above, looking at the source code of the File::Temp module reveals that the VMS::Stdio module is only used on the VMS platform:

    require VMS::Stdio if $^O eq 'VMS';

It is therefore safe to ignore the error. PerlNET includes a number of platform-specific rules telling it that certain dependencies are likely not required. In those cases, the error messages are downgraded to a warning. In all other cases it is the responsibility of the user to verify if the module is needed or not. PerlNET still generates a valid executable, even while this error message is displayed.

It is possible to suppress the error/warning message by explicitly excluding the missing module with the --trim option:

    --trim VMS::Stdio

Error: Case mismatch between module and file name

Windows uses case-insensitive filesystems. It is often possible to misspell a module name and still have Perl load the correct file. For example:

    use Win32::Eventlog;

...loads the Win32::EventLog module, but it does not import any symbols from it: Perl tries to call the Win32::Eventlog->import() method, which doesn't exist, and gives up. PerlNET on Windows generates an error when the file name and the module name cases don't match:

    Win32\Eventlog.pm:
        error: Case mismatch between module and file name
        file: C:\perl\site\lib\Win32\EventLog.pm
    auto\Win32\Eventlog\Eventlog.dll:
        error: Case mismatch between module and file name
        file: C:\perl\site\lib\auto\Win32\EventLog\EventLog.dll

It is important to either correct the wrong spelling in the program or rename the file on disk to the correct name as PerlNET internally uses a case-sensitive file name lookup and otherwise does not load the file at runtime.

Error: Skipping duplicate file file name

PerlNET sometimes needs to include additional module-specific data files. When the module is installed both into the standard Perl library tree and into an additional location added either via the --lib option or PERL5LIB environment variable, the data file will be found twice (but only included once). The same problem can happen when the standard Perl library directories are specified again using --lib or PERL5LIB. The error message should display both the original and the duplicate filenames:

    Tk\srcfile.xpm:
        error: Skipping duplicate file D:\perl\site\lib\Tk\srcfile.xpm
        file: C:\perl\site\lib\Tk\srcfile.xpm

Please make sure that you don't include modules from a library created for a different version of Perl unless you are sure that it is binary compatible.

FAQ

This section answers some frequently asked questions about PerlNET.

How does PerlNET work?

The first thing PerlNET needs to do is to determine which modules and external files the converted script depends upon. The PerlNET program starts out by scanning the source code of the script. When it finds occurrences of use, do or require, it tries to locate the corresponding module and then parse the source of that module. This continues as long as PerlNET finds new modules to examine.

PerlNET does not try to run the script. It will not automatically determine which modules might be loaded by a statement such as:

  require $module;

In cases like this, try listing additional modules to traverse with the --add option.

The PerlNET program has some built-in heuristics for major Perl modules that determine additional modules at runtime, like DBI, LWP, Tk. PerlNET anticipates which additional modules are required so that they are available in freestanding executables.

PerlNET then decides which modules to include in the generated application. Normally, all located modules are included. This also includes the dynamic object files (.so/.dll) and AutoLoader files (.al) that go with the located modules. If the --dependent option is used, only modules located under the directories given by the --lib option are included.

Finally, the application is built with all the modules compressed (unless the --nocompress option is used) and included. When the application runs it arranges for any use, do and require statements to look for and extract the corresponding modules in itself.

How can a script determine if it runs under PerlNET?

It can check for the $PerlNET::VERSION variable. It will be set to the version number of PerlNET that was used to build the executable.

What is $^X when running under PerlNET?

It will always have the value: perl. The $^X is a special variable that normally contains the filename of the Perl interpreter that is executing the script. It is sometimes used in calls to system or exec to invoke perl from within the script.

Will PerlNET work for programs using source filters?

No. PerlNET does not support modules using source filters (e.g. Switch, Filter::Util, and Filter::cpp). See perlfilter in the ActivePerl documentation or 'perldoc perlfilter' for more information on source filters in perl.

Where can I obtain license for PerlNET?

Visit http://www.activestate.com/perl-dev-kit to obtain a license for PDK 9.3.

Does the evaluation license give me fully working applications?

The application built with PerlNET running with an evaluation license expires when the evaluation license times out. Use the --version option to view the time limit of your current license.

SEE ALSO

perl(1)

PerlNET is part of the Perl Dev Kit. More information available at http://www.activestate.com/perl-dev-kit

VERSION

This manpage documents PerlNET version 9.3.0 (build 297998)

COPYRIGHT

Copyright (C) 1998-2014 ActiveState Software Inc. All rights reserved.