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Manual Reference Pages  -  CGI::EXTDIRECT (3)

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CGI::ExtDirect - Ext.Direct remoting gateway for CGI applications



    API definition

In /cgi-bin/api.cgi:

    use CGI::ExtDirect;
    use RPC::ExtDirect::Config;
    use My::ExtDirect::Published::Module::Foo;
    use My::ExtDirect::Published::Module::Bar;
    my $config = RPC::ExtDirect::Config->new(
        api_path     => /cgi-bin/api.cgi,
        router_path  => /cgi-bin/router.cgi,
        poll_path    => /cgi-bin/events.cgi,
    my $direct = CGI::ExtDirect->new(config => $config);
    print $direct->api();      # Prints full HTTP response

    Routing requests

In /cgi-bin/router.cgi:

    use CGI::Cookie;
    use CGI::ExtDirect;
    use My::ExtDirect::Published::Module::Foo;
    use My::ExtDirect::Published::Module::Bar;
    my %headers = (   # Optional CGI headers
        -charset => iso-8859-1,
        -nph     => 1,
        -cookie  => CGI::Cookie->new(
            -name  => foo,
            -value => bar,
    my $direct = CGI::ExtDirect->new();
    print $direct->route(%headers);

    Event polling service

In /cgi-bin/poll.cgi:

    use CGI::Simple;
    use CGI::ExtDirect;
    use My::ExtDirect::Event::Provider1;
    use My::ExtDirect::Event::Provider2;
    # CGI::Simple is supported as well
    my $cgi = CGI::Simple->new;
    # do something with $cgi but do not print headers
    my $direct = CGI::ExtDirect->new(cgi => $cgi);
    print $direct->poll();


This module provides an RPC::ExtDirect gateway implementation for CGI compatible Web server environments. This includes both traditional CGI scripts that start up anew for each HTTP request, as well as more modern CGI environments in which a script is started once and then persists through the lifetime of a server process.

CGI::ExtDirect can be used wth Perl versions 5.6 and newer with many Web servers; it was tested successfully with Apache/mod_perl, pure Perl server based on HTTP::Server::Simple (RPC::ExtDirect::Server), and various other HTTP server environments.

If you are not familiar with Ext.Direct, more information can be found in RPC::ExtDirect::Intro.


If your environment requires using old fashioned standalone CGI scripts, CGI::ExtDirect is fine with that. In fact, it is tested in exactly this kind of environment to ensure it will work properly.

You need to create at least two CGI scripts: API generator, and request router. The third Event provider script is optional, and is only needed if you plan to use event polling capabilities of Ext.Direct. The examples provided in SYNOPSIS can be used as starting points for further customization. See also the examples packaged with CGI::ExtDirect.

Note that this environment is supported as a measure of backwards compatibility. Using standalone CGI scripts is not recommended if you can avoid it; starting such script for each HTTP request is very slow and inefficient. Even the most basic persistent HTTP server will be much faster. If you are not familiar with this approach, refer to the section below.


A more modern approach to building application servers is to use a persistent HTTP server that starts once and is reused for incoming HTTP requests without restarting. Usually such application server will be serving only dynamic HTTP requests, with the task of serving static documents offloaded to a dedicated front-end HTTP server software with no Perl support built into it. Such front-end HTTP server is known as a reverse proxy for the Perl application server.

In a persistent environment, CGI::ExtDirect is configured once at startup, and then called when the application server receives an HTTP request to the URI assigned to a specific entry point. The entry points are the same as with CGI scripts: API generator, request router, and optional event provider. A new CGI object is generated for every request, but the CGI::ExtDirect object is reused.

Configuration for this approach will depend largely on the application server chosen, and does not fit the scope of this documentation. If you are unsure which application server to choose, take a look at RPC::ExtDirect::Server that comes preconfigured for CGI::ExtDirect and can be used out of box.



To configure CGI::ExtDirect instance, you will need to create an instance of RPC::ExtDirect::Config with all required options set, and pass it to CGI::ExtDirect constructor to be used. This step is optional; by default the Config instance in the global API instance will be used instead.

Refer to OPTIONS in RPC::ExtDirect::Config for the list of configuration options and their default values.

    Main methods

As discussed above, CGI::ExtDirect has three main entry points: the API generator (api), the Router (route), and the Event provider (poll). Each of these should be called as an instance method, and each will return the full text of an HTTP response to be printed, including HTTP status, headers, and the body of the response. Your script will need to print the response text to the appropriate pipe, which is STDOUT for standalone scripts.

    HTTP response headers

In certain cases, you may need to include custom HTTP headers in Ext.Direct responses. This may be a specific charset when you cannot use the default UTF-8, or an HTTP cookie. To accommodate for such cases, CGI::ExtDirect allows passing through any header that is meaningful to the underlying or CGI::Simple object, and conforms to CGI::header() method calling convention.

All three of the main CGI::ExtDirect public methods (api, route, and poll) accept custom headers in the following fashion:
method(’content/type’) A single header value is interpreted as the content type that will override the default application/json type.


    print $cgi->route(text/javascript); # JSONP

method(’content/type’, ’HTTP status’) Two header values will be interpreted as the content type and HTTP status, respectively.


    print $cgi->poll(text/json, 401 Unauthorized); # Auth request

method(-header => ’value’) Any custom header can be passed in the key => value format.


    print $cgi->api(-foo_bar => 42); # Foo-bar: 42

See also CREATING HTTP HEADERS in CGI::Simple for sane explanation of the header usage that also applies to the old


CGI::ExtDirect provides several public methods:
new Constructor. Returns a new CGI::ExtDirect object. Accepts named arguments in a hash or hashref.

api Optional RPC::ExtDirect::API instance to be used instead of the default global API tree.
config Optional RPC::ExtDirect::Config instance to be used. If not provided, the Config instance in the API object (either default or passed in api parameter) will be used.
cgi Instantiated CGI or similar object. CGI::Simple has been tested and works fine.

api Instance method. Returns the current API tree as a stringified API declaration along with the HTTP status code and headers, to be printed or processed further.

Accepts custom headers as described in HTTP response headers.

route Instance method. Parses Ext.Direct requests from the internal CGI object passed to constructor; dispatches the quests, collects results and returns an HTTP response with results as a serialized JSON stream.

Accepts custom headers as described in HTTP response headers.

poll Instance method. Queries Event provider Poll Handler Methods for events, collects these events and returns back a JSON stream.

Accepts custom headers as described in HTTP response headers.


See included Ext JS examples for ideas on what Ext.Direct is and how to use it in CGI applications. The examples are not installed along with the CGI::ExtDirect module, and are only available in the examples/ directory of the CPAN distribution.

To run examples type the following in the CGI::ExtDirect tarball directory:

    cd examples
    perl p5httpd

Note that these examples do not require CGI::ExtDirect to be installed so you can try them beforehand. That said, CGI::ExtDirect depends on RPC::ExtDirect being available in @INC so if you don’t want to install either module, unpack RPC::ExtDirect and CGI::ExtDirect tarballs to the same directory and use $PERL5LIB to point to RPC::ExtDirect location:

    cd examples
    PERL5LIB=../../RPC-ExtDirect-3.xx/lib perl p5httpd


I would like to thank IntelliSurvey, Inc for sponsoring my work on versions 2.x and 3.x of the RPC::ExtDirect suite of modules.

The tiny but CGI capable HTTP server used to provide working examples is (c) 2002-2004 by Hans Lub, <>. It is called p5httpd and can be found here: <>


At this time there are no known bugs in this module. Please report problems to the author, patches are always welcome.

Use Github tracker <> to open bug reports, this is the easiest and quickest way to get your issue fixed.


Copyright (c) 2011-2015 Alex Tokarev <>.

This module is free software; you can redistribute it and/or modify it under the same terms as Perl itself. See perlartistic.

Included Ext JS examples are copyright (c) 2011, Sencha Inc. Example code is used and distributed under GPL 3.0 license as provided by Sencha Inc. See <>. Ext JS is available for download at <>

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