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Last updated: Thu, 21 Aug 2003



The readline() functions implement an interface to the GNU Readline library. These are functions that provide editable command lines. An example being the way Bash allows you to use the arrow keys to insert characters or scroll through command history. Because of the interactive nature of this library, it will be of little use for writing Web applications, but may be useful when writing scripts meant using PHP from the command line.

Note: This extension is not available on Windows platforms.


To use the readline functions, you need to install libreadline. You can find libreadline on the home page of the GNU Readline project, at It's maintained by Chet Ramey, who's also the author of Bash.

You can also use this functions with the libedit library, a non-GPL replacement for the readline library. The libedit library is BSD licensend and available for download from


To use this functions you must compile the CGI or CLI version of PHP with readline support. You need to configure PHP --with-readline[=DIR]. In order you want to use the libedit readline replacement, configure PHP --with-libedit[=DIR].

Runtime Configuration

This extension has no configuration directives defined in php.ini.

Resource Types

This extension has no resource types defined.

Predefined Constants

This extension has no constants defined.

Table of Contents
readline_add_history -- Adds a line to the history
readline_clear_history -- Clears the history
readline_completion_function -- Registers a completion function
readline_info -- Gets/sets various internal readline variables
readline_list_history -- Lists the history
readline_read_history -- Reads the history
readline_write_history -- Writes the history
readline -- Reads a line

add a note add a note User Contributed Notes
GNU Readline
jewfish at jewfish dot net
11-Jun-2002 06:05
There is a simpler way to do a multiline read than above:

function multiline() {
    while(($in = readline("")) != ".")
        $story .= ($PHP_OS == "WINNT") ? "\r\n".$in :

    return $story;
joshua at
21-Apr-2002 05:17
Here's an example simple readline-like way to input from command line on windows - the single line is from, the multiline is something I added...

function read () {
# 4092 max on win32 fopen


# strip newline
(PHP_OS == "WINNT") ? ($read str_replace("\r\n"""$in)) : ($read str_replace("\n"""$in));


multilineread () {
    do {
$in read();

# test exit
if ($in == ".") return $read;

# concat input
(PHP_OS == "WINNT") ? ($read $read . ($read "\r\n" "") . $in) : ($read $read "\n" $in);

    } while (
$inp != ".");


"End input with . on line by itself.\n");

"What is your first name?\n");
$first_name multilineread();

"What is your last name?\n");
$last_name read();

"\nHello, $first_name $last_name! Nice to meet you! \n");
14-Apr-2002 09:17
[Ed. note: you can use fopen("php://stdin", "w") to achieve the same thing, works on both Windows and Unix)]

I wanted to get console input in a PHP script running on windows, so I made a little hack, which is so simple, it is clearly public domain.  What I did was write a C++ program to get a line, then output it.  Then all that is needed is to exec() that program and capture the output - readline() for windows.  The C++ source is as follows:

#include <iostream.h>
#include <string>
void main()
    string input;
    cin >> input;
    cout << input;

It works wonderfully for my purposes, since I love the PHP language and want to have console input.

Justin Henck
twebb at boisecenter dot com
04-Mar-2002 02:11
You'll probably need the --with-readline directive when configuring php to have the readline() functions available. 

If you've installed the readline libraries in /usr/local, add:


to your ./configure command.

 Last updated: Thu, 21 Aug 2003
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