Version 3 (modified by jhorwitz, 8 years ago)


mod_parrot HLL Module Developer's Guide


This is the mod_parrot HLL module developer's guide. The target audience is developers wishing to embed their language in Apache using mod_parrot. The benefits of this are one-time compilation of scripts, a persistent execution environment, direct access to the Apache API, and the ability to write custom hooks in the embedded language. Some languages can be self-hosted, meaning the code to implement mod_foo is written in the "foo" language.

Most examples are taken from the PIR HLL module, with several from mod_perl6 to illustrate self-hosting.


Any language targeted to Parrot can use mod_parrot to execute code in a persistent environment. However, to best take advantage of mod_parrot's features, including self-hosting, languages should support the following:

  • namespaces
  • lexical and global variables
  • an Parrot-compatible object model

Using mod_parrot without these features is still possible with some PIR scaffolding.


Each HLL in mod_parrot is contained in its own Apache module, known as an HLL module. All steps leading up to and including the registration of the HLL module with Apache is called bootstrapping. The bootstrapping process typically follows this procedure:

  1. Load the HLL compiler.
  2. Declare server and directory configuration hooks.
  3. Declare Apache directive hooks.
  4. Declare Apache directives.
  5. Declare metahandlers (hooks for Apache phases).
  6. Register the Apache module.

As of mod_parrot 0.5, step 1 must be written (or compiled to) PIR, but all subsequent steps can be written in the HLL itself (a self-hosting HLL module). The PIR bootstrap file MUST be compiled to bytecode and located in ModParrot/HLL/hllname.pbc in Parrot's library path. HLL code can be located anywhere, though conventions will eventually be defined. If there is HLL bootstrap code, it must be loaded and executed using PIR in the bootstrap file.

Bootstrap code must be placed in a PIR subroutine marked with the :load adverb so it is run when the file is loaded. This subroutine can be named or anonymous (using the :anon adverb).

Example: mod_perl6

The first part of the bootstrap file from mod_perl6 loads the compiler and supporting libraries, then executes Perl 6 code from

.sub __onload :anon :load
    load_bytecode 'languages/perl6/perl6.pbc'
    load_bytecode 'ModParrot/Apache/Module.pbc'
    load_bytecode 'ModParrot/Constants.pbc'

    # load, which may be precompiled
    $P0 = compreg 'Perl6'
    $P1 = $P0.'compile'('use mod_perl6')



Each HLL module provides two configuration data structures to Apache: server and directory. Server configurations are specific to the main server and individual virtual hosts. Directory configurations are specific to individual sections, which can be real directories or locations defined in the Apache configuration file. All configuration structures can be merged with parent configurations to implement inheritance or overriding behavior.

Creating HLL Configurations

Merging HLL Configurations

Custom Apache Directives

Accessing mod_parrot's Configuration


Naming Conventions

Registering Apache Hooks

The Context Object

Capturing Output

Registering the HLL Apache Module



Sharing an Interpreter with Other Languages