Converting a PHP API to a C# implementation

by Damiaan Peeters 11. January 2010 13:32

I have this web service I want to use. The supplier only provides a PHP example to use the API. It is not a standard SOAP or REST service, but a custom Http POST based command.  This means that you that you either have to write

Because I had no Visual Studio installed, ready to be launched, i used the command line conversion. 

C:\Program Files\Microsoft Corporation\PHP to ASP.NET Migration Assistant>PHPConvert.exe "c:\source\PhpSource" /out "C:\source\AspDotNetVersion”

The port of the code was successful. Most of the code was converted to c#.  A lot of conversion warnings popped up, but most of them where not imposing any severe problems.

Code clean-up

A manual code clean-up is advised.  For example, this code comes clearly from an unmanaged environment:

  1. dpublic virtual void  useSecure(bool val)
  2.         {
  3.             if ((val == true) && (val.GetType() == true.GetType()))
  4.             {
  5.                 this.Secure = true;
  6.             }

Why should you check the type of “val” at runtime?  This is already done by the compiler.  A simple “ if (val== true) “  would be sufficient.  Or in this case even shorter:

  1. d        public virtual void useSecure(bool val)
  2.         {
  3.                 this.Secure = val;
  4.         }

Other things to clean up are links to magic-quotes, cURL and other specific PHP stuff.

Calling the API

Calling the API means in PHP that you do a socket write and read. For example, in PHP one would do:

$sock = fsockopen("ssl://".$this->ApiUrl["host"], 443, $errno, $errstr);

Because every effort is done to maintain the original architecture by the conversion tool.  The convertor tool added a PHP namespace containing extra support classes for duplicating the original (php) functionality. The previous line of code is thus converted to:

sock = PHP.NetworkSupport.OpenSocket("ssl://" + this.ApiUrl["host"], 443, errstr);

The OpenSocket function is a wrapper function with one line (with some additional simple error handling):

returnValue = (System.Net.HttpWebRequest)System.Net.WebRequest.Create((System.String)Target); // + ":" + System.Convert.ToInt32(Port));

Although this is neat, I like the native .Net HttpWebRequest and HttpWebResponse Classes.  So I took the code from my previous blog post: Http Post using C#, adapted it a bit and removed almost 80 lines of the converted code.

My problem with the wrapper functions created by the convertor tool, is that they use System.Object parameters and also return a System.Object.  So for readability and maintenance reasons, I started immediately converting this to some strongly typed code.


I was very pleased with this tool.  I saved literally hours typing, and it took me (only) a few hours of refactoring.   Refactoring meant:

  • removing unused functionality (magicQuotes, cURL, …)
  • removing unnecessary type checks using Relfection
  • removing calls to wrapper functions when I had decent managed .Net code available in my library

And just now I started thinking that it may have been faster implementing a custom WCF implementation.

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