Bencode is the encoding used by the peer-to-peer file sharing system BitTorrent for storing and transmitting loosely structured data.
Apart from the “torrent” files, it is also used to store local data in some BitTorrent clients instead of other lightweight databases such as SQLite. However, if one gets hundreds of torrents, decoding the file would be extremely slow by some pure PHP libraries. This is why I decided to implement a PHP extension to boost the process.
There is an existed extension on Google Code, which you can also find an exportation to GitHub with some patches. But it seems that it can only parse a Bencode into plain array or convert an array back which may cause data loss during the conversion, e.g. empty arrays or lists.
Bencode should be handled by objects. But I can hardly find any introductions about handling objects in a PHP extension (reading the header file may be a better choice but it may cost a little long). Then I found PHP-CPP, which is quite friendly to new PHP extension developers. It’s a pity that it cannot be packed as a PECL package but it would be easy to build a binary package instead.
The development is not finished yet and I’m considering adding more useful features. Also, there may be lots of redundant codes to clean up 😉