Welcome in suckless-php
Updated 308 Days AgoPublic

suckless-php: Another KISS framework that sucks less

You discovered suckless-php! My amazing keep-it-simple-and-stupid laser cannon that I used to develop dozen of very-different Content Management Systems made from scratch in my life.

Why using suckless-php

With this framework I was able to create a lot of relational content management systems with these features:

  • stateless (it means it's very easy to scale)
  • efficient (very tiny footprint both in disk and memory)
  • CSRF-safe
  • on demand resource loader (e.g. DB connection is instantiated only if you use it etc.)
  • object-oriented query builder (supporting also very complex queries)
  • micro-ORM implementation
  • associative options WordPress-style
  • database table prefix (you can run multiple instances in a single database)
  • login, user roles, user permissions, role inheritance
  • secure file uploads (MIME type checks etc.)
  • multi-language (using the widely used GNU Gettext native or high-level)

Everything is made in just ~15 short PHP files. It's damn small for all these features!

When not using suckless-php

  • do not use suckless-php if you hate programming
  • do not use suckless-php if you expect something complete with all the bells and whistles that you can give to a _luser_ to manage a website in every it's damn component without a programmer (in that case you need a shitty, scary and giant complete content management system, you need to host something like 12MB of source code, often that you must fill with other crapware plugins, etc. In this case the suckless-php framework is not your solution. This framework is incompatible with people who love waste of resources, computation and global warming).


You should have basic knowledges about a webserver with PHP and MySQL (or MariaDB obviously).

Run your favorite webserver. I use a simple (G)LAMP machine:

  • GNU/Linux
  • Apache or nginx
  • PHP
  • MySQL or MariaDB

This can't be a guide for how to install a webserver. Anyway if it's your first time, try with a clean Debian GNU/Linux installation, and then:

sudo apt install apache2 mysql-server libapache2-mod-php php-mysql

If you plan to allow users to upload files, install the libmagic-dev package.

That's all.

Framework installation

The framework can be saved inside a read-only directory of your choice.

I usually want it in the /usr/share/php/suckless-php path, in order to keep it in one place for every project:

sudo git clone /usr/share/php/suckless-php

But instead you may want the framework inside your project or whenever you want. It will also work.

Quick start project

We have created a template project (boilerplate) for you. You can just try it and then come back here for more instructions!


Quick start documentation

You can configure everything, but let's assume that:

  • /var/www is your DocumentRoot of your webserver's virtual host
  • /var/www/project will contain your example website project (HTML, CSS, JavaScript, PHP files)
  • http://localhost/project is what you want to visit to see that project
  • /usr/share/php/suckless-php/load.php should exist

Spoiler! In the next steps you will create:

  • /var/www/project/load.php - your database configuration file
  • /var/www/project/load-post.php - your website configuration file
  • /var/www/project/index.php - your homepage

Let's start creating a MySQL database and a MySQL user with a password.

Go to your project (/var/www/project) and create a configuration file. Call it load.php and save this:

// database credentials
$username = 'Your database username';
$password = 'The password of your database user';
$database = 'Your database name';
$charset  = 'utf8mb4';
$location = 'localhost';

// table prefix, if any
$prefix = '';

// absolute pathname to this directory without trailing slash
define( 'ABSPATH', __DIR__ );

// relative URL to this directory (or an empty string) without trailing slash
define( 'ROOT', '/project' );

// load the framework
require '/usr/share/php/suckless-php/load.php';

Now create also a load-post.php file with something like:

// this file is automagically called after something called your 'load.php'
// in this file you can use every suckless-php function to describe your project

// register some custom privileges
register_permissions('subscribed', [
] );

// the superuser inherit from the subscribed and has also other permissions
inherit_permissions('superadmin', 'subscribed', [
] );

// register some useful JavaScript/CSS files to be used later
register_js(  'jquery',   'media/jquery-min.js');
register_css( 'my-style', 'media/style.css');

// register some menu entries

// etc. (we will see features next)

Now create also your homepage in index.php:

// autoload everything
require 'load.php';

// test a query
$row = query_row('SELECT NOW() AS now');

// print  something
echo "If the database credentials works, the time is: {$row->now}";

Now just visit http://localhost/project/ to check if everything works.

Understand what happens

Just as a note. With the above example, when you visit http://localhost/project/ this happens:

  1. The user requests http://localhost/project
  2. /var/www/project/index.php is executed and then it requires your 'load.php' (see the comment // autoload everything above)
    1. /var/www/project/load.php is executed and loads the framework (see the comment / load the framework above)
      1. /usr/share/php/suckless-php/load.php is executed and quits, requiring your load-post.php
    2. /var/www/project/load-post.php is executed and ends
  3. /var/www/project/index.php continue it's execution as normal
  4. You see If the database credentials works, the time is: ...

That's all.

As you note, you decide whenever you want to use the framework or not. Just put a require 'load.php'; as the first line of your PHP page to use the framework stuff.

Configure database

If you want these features:

  • login/logout
  • user roles and permissions
  • associative options

Just import the example database schema provided in the examples folder of this framework. Adjust the table prefixes for your needs:

All available configurations for your load.php file

ABSPATHconststringMandatoryBase filesystem path"/var/www/foo"
ROOTconststringMandatoryBase URL path"/foo" or ""
$usernamevarstringOptionalDB user"foo"
$passwordvarstringOptionalDB user password"strong"
$databasevarstringOptionalDB name"FOO"
$locationvarstringOptionalDB hostname or IP"localhost"
$prefixvarstringOptionalDB tables prefix"foo_"
$charsetvarstringOptionalDB default charset"utf8mb4"
PROTOCOLconststringOptionalProtocol in URLs"https://"
DOMAINconststringOptionalDomain in URLs""
URLconststringOptionalBase URL""
DEBUG_QUERIESconstboolOptionalQueries are loggedtrue
DEBUGconstboolOptionalPrint log lines to outputtrue

Example of const customization:

define( "ABSPATH", "/var/www/foo" );

Example of var customization:

$database = "FOO";
$username = "foo";
$password = "strong";
$location = "localhost";
$prefix   = "foo_";


You should know how to inspect your webserver logs. Usually just:

sudo tail -f /var/log/apache2/error.log

In the next examples you may also want to debug your queries. Just put these inside your /var/www/project/load.php:

define( 'DEBUG_QUERIES', true );
define( 'DEBUG', true );

This is useful only during development to show on video every database query before its execution. Remember to force to false in production.

Example of JSON API

Creating a JSON API page is very simple. This is an example that can be saved as /var/www/project/api.php


// autoload everything
require 'load.php';

// do some pre-conditions
if( empty( $_GET['ping'] ) ) {

	// die with an HTTP status code 400 Bad Request and show a message
	json_error( 400, 'missing-ping', "Please specify the 'ping' argument in your query string" );

json( [
	'success' => true,
	'pong'    => $_GET['ping'],
] );

Now try to visit:

  • http://localhost/project/api.php
  • http://localhost/project/api.php?ping=foo

Note that to optimize the data transfer, false and null values and empty objects will be automagically removed from the JSON. It's a feature. Handle these cases from JavaScript.

Note that in this example you do not use the database so no database connection was established.

Execute a database query

Note that the database connection is established automagically only if you need it. Now some examples.

Execute a query using the Query builder (object-oriented)


// autoload everything
require 'load.php';

// get a pure array of rows from an example 'post' database table
$posts = ( new Query() )
    ->from( 'post' )

// do something with your data
foreach( $posts as $post ) {
    echo $post->id;

// autoload everything
require 'load.php';

// get a Generator of rows from an example 'post' database table (see PHP generators)
$generator = ( new Query() )
    ->from( 'post' )

// do something with your data
foreach( $posts as $post ) {
    echo $post->id;

Another more complex example:


// autoload everything
require 'load.php';

// get a pure array of rows from an example 'post' database table
// where the 'post_author_id' = $author_id (int comparison)
// where the 'post_status' can be 'private' or 'stub' or 'deleted'
// where the 'post_date' is before the current MySQL date
//  LEFT join to the user ON (user.user_ID = post.post_author_id)
$posts = ( new Query() )
    ->from( 'post' )
    ->whereStr( 'post_title', $title )
    ->whereInt( 'post_author_id', $author_id )
    ->whereSomethingIn( 'post_status', [ 'private', 'stub', 'deleted' ] )
    ->where( 'post_date < NOW()' )
    ->joinOn( 'LEFT', 'user', 'user.user_ID', 'post.post_author_id' )

// do something with your data
foreach( $posts as $post ) {
    echo $post->id;

Note that a method that gives a generator is more efficient over a method that returns a complete array of results, if:

  • You do not need the full list (you need just one at time)
  • You do not need to read the list multiple times.


Object-oriented way:


// autoload everything
require 'load.php';

( new Query() )
    ->from( 'post' )
    ->insertRow( [
          'post_ID' => 1,
          'post_title' => 'hello',
    ] );

Declarative way:


// autoload everything
require 'load.php';

insert_row( 'post', [
          'post_ID' => 1,
          'post_title' => 'hello',
] );



// autoload everything
require 'load.php';

// build a delete query and run
( new Query() )
    ->from( 'post' )                    // DELETE FROM post
    ->whereStr( 'post_author', 'jhon' ) // WHERE post_author = 'jhon'
    ->whereInt( 'post_stub', 1 )         // AND post_stub = 1
    ->whereIsNull( 'post_field' )       // AND post_field IS NULL
    ->whereIsNotNull( 'post_z' )        // AND post_z IS NOT NULL

Query (declarative way)

This is useful to run strange queries that does not return stuff (remember to sanitize your data):


// autoload everything
require 'load.php';

query( "ALTER TABLE ADD COLUMN `hello` ..." );

Select rows (declarative, full list)


// autoload everything
require 'load.php';

// results as a pure array
$posts = query_results( "SELECT post_title FROM wp_post" );

// as example, let's expose them in JSON
json( $posts );

Note that query_results() is better over query_generator() if:

  • You need the full list (e.g. to count them, etc.)
  • You want to read the list multiple times

Select rows (declarative, generator)

// generator of results
$posts = query_generator( "SELECT post_title FROM wp_post" );
if( $posts->valid() ) {
    foreach( $posts as $post ) {
        echo $post->post_title;

Note that query_generator() is better over query_results() if:

  • You do not need the full list (but just one at time)
  • You do not need to read the list multiple times.

Database row → object (mapping)


 * Declaration of my custom class
class Post extends Queried {

	 * Table name without table prefix
	const T = 'post';

	 * An example method
	 * @return string
	public function getTitle() {
		return $this->post_title;

// now you have a query builder
$post = Post::factory()
	->whereInt( 'post_ID', 1 )

// do stuff
if( $post ) {

	// this method exists
	$title = $post->getTitle();

File upload

File uploading is one of the most painful stuff ever full of security nightmares. We tried to keep it simple and secure.

This is just an example:


// autoload everything
require 'load.php';

$uploader = new FileUploader( 'my-filename', [
      'category' => [ 'image', 'video' ],
      'max-filesize' =>10000000, // 10~ megabytes
] );

// check if the user uploaded the file
if( $uploader->fileChoosed() ) {

     // save the file somewhere
     $ok = $uploader->uploadTo( '/var/www/directory/name' );

     // print an error message
     if( !$ok ) {
        die( $uploader->getErrorMessage() );

<form method="post" enctype="multipart/form-data">
    <input type="file" name="my-filename" />
    <button type="submit">Submit</button>

Some available file categories:

  • image
  • audio
  • video
  • document

Check the class class-MimeTypes.php for further details about the default categories.

You can use register_mimetypes( $category, $mimetypes ) inside your load-post.php to register additional mime types to existing categories or to add additional categories.

CSRF protection

To both identify a form and secure it against Cross-site request forgery you can use form_action() and is_action():


// autoload everything
require 'load.php';

// check if the user submitted the form
if( is_action( 'save-user' ) ) {

	// do something with the value
	// $_POST['username']

<!DOCTYPE html>
	<title>Example save user</title>
<form method="post">
	<?php form_action( 'save-user' ) ?>

	<input type="text" name="username" />

	<button type="submit">Click to save</button>


Example of login page


// autoload everything
require 'load.php';

if( is_action( 'try-login' ) ) {

if( is_logged() ) {
	echo "Welcome!";

<!DOCTYPE html>
	<title>Example save user</title>

<form method="post">
	<?php form_action( 'try-login' ) ?>	
	<input type="text" name="user_uid" />
	<input type="password" name="user_password" />
	<button type="submit">Login</button>


Internationalization and localization (i28n and l10n)

The framework has support to internationalization and localization.

To add multi-language support for your web project, just convert it from this:

<p>Hello world!</p>

To this:

<p><?= __( "Hello world!" ) ?></p>

And you are almost ready.

NOTE: The function shown is called __( "" ) with a double-underscore. Normally it just returns what you express as the first argument.

Then, in your file load-post.php declare your languages:


// register all the languages you want to support, with aliases and ISO code and a label
register_language( 'en_US', [ 'en_GB' ], 'en', "English"  );
register_language( 'it_IT', [         ], 'it', "Italiano" );

// GNU Gettext domain
define_default( 'GETTEXT_DOMAIN', 'com.myproject' );

// apply the language from browser preferences

// or apply a specific language
// apply_language( "en" );

Then use the GNU Gettext workflow to internationalize everything. The GNU Gettext standard is the same thing used to translate WordPress.

You just have to create a structure like this in your project:


Then you can a script to:

  1. create a .pot file from the strings in your source code inside the function __( "" )
  2. use the .pot file as template to create or update .po files of each language
  3. compile .po files into .mo files

Then you can use a software like Poedit to translate the .po files and then re-run the script to use your updated .po file to create .mo compiled files.

Here an example script that does everything for you:
# default copyright holder of your localization
copyright="Mr. Gino"

# prefix of your localization's files

rtfm() {
    echo Usage:
    echo $1 PATH
    echo Example:
    echo $1 /var/www/mysite

if [ -z "$path" ]; then
    rtfm $0
    exit 1

# Create or update the .pot template file, reading the strings inside the function __( "" ) in your PHP project
xgettext --copyright-holder="$copyright" \
         --package-name=$package         \
         --from-code=UTF-8               \
         --keyword=__                    \
         --default-domain="$package"     \
         -o "$path"/l10n/"$package".pot  \
            "$path"/*.php                \

# Generate/update the .po files from the .pot file
find "$path"/l10n -name \*.po -execdir msgmerge -o $package.po $package.po ../../$package.pot \;

# Generate/update the .mo files from .po files
find "$path"/l10n -name \*.po -execdir msgfmt -o $ $package.po \;

So when you want to translate something just follow this workflow:

  1. Run ./
  2. Translate your .po files with Poedit or whatever
  3. Save
  4. Run ./
NOTE: This is nearly exactly the same workflow of WordPress but everything works without megabytes of dependencies. The GNU Gettext workflow is very powerful but somehow complicated. This is not specific to this framework. Practically every software on your computer uses this methodology. So learning GNU Gettext is not bad for you. RTFM:

Unit tests

phpunit --bootstrap=phpunit/load.php --testdox phpunit


Copyright (c) 2015-2023 Valerio Bozzolan, code contributors

This is a Free as in Freedom project. It comes with ABSOLUTELY NO WARRANTY. You are welcome to redistribute it under the terms of the GNU General Public License v3+.

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Sep 19 2023, 13:35

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