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Run PHP scripts in a native macOS app

What is this?

Sample code for running PHP scripts inside a macOS app. Has a very simple and basic UI consisting of a split scroll view and a button.


Enter PHP code in the top view and see results in the bottom view.

Uses macOS default PHP.

For simple protability, uses default PHP binary included with macOS. However, it is possible to embed a PHP binary, custom php.ini file, and PHP extensions.

Custom PHP binary

Compile php (or just add your existing PHP binary, usually located at /usr/bin/php):

Then set the path to your custom PHP binary's bundle resource location:

let path = Bundle.main.path(forResource: "php",ofType:nil)

Custom php.ini:

From PHP documentation:

You can specify the php.ini file in command line by using the following syntax:
php -c [Path to php.ini file] [Path to .php file]

For example:

php -c /etc/php-alt/php.ini /var/www/public_html/example.php
Now the example.php file will run with the configuration set in the php.ini file located here: /etc/php-alt/


Add your custom php.ini to your Xcode project.

Add -c to the NSTask arguments list:


Then add the path to php.ini within your bundle to the arguments list (arguments are added to the command in order):

arguments.append( Bundle.main.path(forResource: "php",ofType:"ini" ))

Additional functionality.

You'll have to figure out how to set the paths used for extenstions in php.ini separately, but send me a note if you have a solution I can include here. Would be interesting to get xdebug output.

Also, php errors go to the Xcode console log. Would be fun to display them in the app.


NSTask functionality cribbed with comments from:

Syntax highlighting from the super simple and bare bones Macaw (not PHP syntax, but C-like and very easy to understand - a few tweaks and it's fine for PHP):

And this is a much simplified version of something I put together in Objective-C many years ago:


Run PHP scripts in a native macOS app



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