PHP classes to read/write PalmOS PDB (Palm DataBase) files
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examples Updating links to point to GitHub. Jan 14, 2016
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PHP-PDB is a set of PHP classes that manipulate Palm OS databases. It lets you read, write, alter, and easily use data that is meant to be sent to or retrieved from a handheld. It requires PHP 4.0.1 or later, but due to security problems with PHP 4, I'd suggest you have version 4.1.2 or patch your current version.

Check out it's feature-rich API. You get all this and more, especially if you use one of the database-specific modules.

Directly Supported Databases

These types of databases have had separate classes written to extend the base class and make life easier for the developer. PHP-PDB can be used with your own custom database type as well.

  • Address Book - Reading and writing fully supported.
  • Datebook - Reading and writing fully supported.
  • DOC - Can read and write compressed and uncompressed doc files. Can use embedded and stored bookmarks.
  • List - Reading and writing fully supported.
  • MobileDB - Can read and write databases. No utility functions yet, so this class is difficult to use.
  • SmallBASIC - Can read and write databases. Easily convert from/to this format.

For a thorough explanation of how to use this library, follow the individual links above or read about the API.


  • The base class can be extended to provide easy support for specific types of databases.
  • The class supports reading databases as well as writing databases.
  • Easily be able to pipe a Palm OS database to the browser or out to a file.
  • Category support, but it is currently somewhat limited.
  • Limited appinfo and sortinfo support exists.

As Seen In ...

This PHP class works quite well and it is being used in the following manners. If you want your site listed here, I'd love to add it -- tell me about it!

  • Ampoliros - Used as a package for a web-based system that will be used by other various modules to import/export data.
  • Marco - Data point conversion from different formats into the internal format used by Marco.
  • LDS Trivia - Real-time trivia database creation from questions submitted on the web site.
  • Spade - A simple address book editor that has enough potential, especially if you use Coldsync or another tool to synchronize databases.
  • Twister! - Web page, text and Project Gutenberg file conversion to DOC or SmallBASIC format.

Still To Do

Please note that this software is considered abandoned. I kept this list when I migrated to GitHub in order to give others an idea of what's not quite finished or code that could use polishing.


  • Add better MobileDB support.
  • Regex bookmark scanning for Twister! (Idea from makextxt)
  • Instead of breaking on chapter, you could break on # of records or approximate size.
  • Would backwards size searching for compressing DOC records be faster? Test it out. DOC compression is too slow.
  • Alter todo and addrbook to use the attributes from php-pdb's main class.
  • Add more category functions from the todo and addrbook into the php-pdb main class.

New Ideas

  • Add Pilot-DB support
  • How about adding zTXT format ebooks for GutenPalm? It's quite similar to DOC. (Started working on it, but didn't get anywhere yet.)
  • Add PDAToolbox support (waiting for information about structure)
  • Wouldn't image support from PalmImage be grand? Especially if it merged with GD.
  • Take an in-depth look here for PeanutPress files.
  • Add in functionality like this


This is all new code (not based on another project), but credit should be given to people who wrote other open-source programs that I learned from. Also, this list is to give thanks to people and companies who have helped me out with PHP-PDB.

  • Arensburger, Andrew - Thanks for making P5-Palm! I used several ideas when creating PHP-PDB, and a few comments really helped me out.
  • Barth, Christoph - Wrote a patch to add export to Palm for moregroupware. Here's the description that I wrote about it.
  • Beirne, Pat - Created the first DOC compression scheme. See it here.
  • Christopoulos, Nicholas - He is the "development team" of SmallBASIC, and he explained the SmallBASIC record layout further for me so the SmallBASIC module could be created.
  • Dean, Wayne - Helped me out with finding out why the Desktop 4.0 didn't like installing PHP-PDB generated .pdb files. (Padding issue.)
  • Dittgen, Pierre - His palmlib (aka ToPTIP) was handy to have around when initially adding DOC support to compare output and make sure mine worked.
  • Gupta, Kartikaya - Fixed some problems when dealing is DOC databases.
  • Handmark - Provided detailed database structure information for MobileDB. Cassidy Lackey answered many of my questions. Thanks for helping to get the MobileDB module class going!
  • Low, Andrew - Created List.
  • Martinez, Eduardo Pascual - Created the classes to handle Todo and Address Book formats.
  • Nuernberg, Cristiano - Submitted a much better example for MobileDB than what I had previously.
  • Palm Computing, Inc. - Without them, there would not be a Palm OS. Also, they provided documentation (especially detailing the file formats) that made my life significantly easier.
  • Pereira, Jaime - Gave me the code to LoadDouble().
  • Pyrite - They provided a great description about the compression format and stored bookmarks which helped a lot for the DOC module.
  • Schindlauer, Roman -- Worked out problems regarding address books and categories. Also wrote Spade.


PHP-PDB is licensed under the GNU LGPL version 2. See doc/LEGAL for the full text of the license.