LWP.pm   [plain text]

# $Id: LWP.pm,v 1.149 2005/12/08 12:06:22 gisle Exp $

package LWP;

$VERSION = "5.805";
sub Version { $VERSION; }

require 5.005;
require LWP::UserAgent;  # this should load everything you need



=head1 NAME

LWP - The World-Wide Web library for Perl


  use LWP;
  print "This is libwww-perl-$LWP::VERSION\n";


The libwww-perl collection is a set of Perl modules which provides a
simple and consistent application programming interface (API) to the
World-Wide Web.  The main focus of the library is to provide classes
and functions that allow you to write WWW clients. The library also
contain modules that are of more general use and even classes that
help you implement simple HTTP servers.

Most modules in this library provide an object oriented API.  The user
agent, requests sent and responses received from the WWW server are
all represented by objects.  This makes a simple and powerful
interface to these services.  The interface is easy to extend
and customize for your own needs.

The main features of the library are:

=over 3

=item *

Contains various reusable components (modules) that can be
used separately or together.

=item *

Provides an object oriented model of HTTP-style communication.  Within
this framework we currently support access to http, https, gopher, ftp, news,
file, and mailto resources.

=item *

Provides a full object oriented interface or
a very simple procedural interface.

=item *

Supports the basic and digest authorization schemes.

=item *

Supports transparent redirect handling.

=item *

Supports access through proxy servers.

=item *

Provides parser for F<robots.txt> files and a framework for constructing robots.

=item *

Supports parsing of HTML forms.

=item *

Implements HTTP content negotiation algorithm that can
be used both in protocol modules and in server scripts (like CGI

=item *

Supports HTTP cookies.

=item *

Some simple command line clients, for instance C<lwp-request> and C<lwp-download>.



The libwww-perl library is based on HTTP style communication. This
section tries to describe what that means.

Let us start with this quote from the HTTP specification document

=over 3


The HTTP protocol is based on a request/response paradigm. A client
establishes a connection with a server and sends a request to the
server in the form of a request method, URI, and protocol version,
followed by a MIME-like message containing request modifiers, client
information, and possible body content. The server responds with a
status line, including the message's protocol version and a success or
error code, followed by a MIME-like message containing server
information, entity meta-information, and possible body content.


What this means to libwww-perl is that communication always take place
through these steps: First a I<request> object is created and
configured. This object is then passed to a server and we get a
I<response> object in return that we can examine. A request is always
independent of any previous requests, i.e. the service is stateless.
The same simple model is used for any kind of service we want to

For example, if we want to fetch a document from a remote file server,
then we send it a request that contains a name for that document and
the response will contain the document itself.  If we access a search
engine, then the content of the request will contain the query
parameters and the response will contain the query result.  If we want
to send a mail message to somebody then we send a request object which
contains our message to the mail server and the response object will
contain an acknowledgment that tells us that the message has been
accepted and will be forwarded to the recipient(s).

It is as simple as that!

=head2 The Request Object

The libwww-perl request object has the class name C<HTTP::Request>.
The fact that the class name uses C<HTTP::> as a
prefix only implies that we use the HTTP model of communication.  It
does not limit the kind of services we can try to pass this I<request>
to.  For instance, we will send C<HTTP::Request>s both to ftp and
gopher servers, as well as to the local file system.

The main attributes of the request objects are:

=over 3

=item *

The B<method> is a short string that tells what kind of
request this is.  The most common methods are B<GET>, B<PUT>,
B<POST> and B<HEAD>.

=item *

The B<uri> is a string denoting the protocol, server and
the name of the "document" we want to access.  The B<uri> might
also encode various other parameters.

=item *

The B<headers> contain additional information about the
request and can also used to describe the content.  The headers
are a set of keyword/value pairs.

=item *

The B<content> is an arbitrary amount of data.


=head2 The Response Object

The libwww-perl response object has the class name C<HTTP::Response>.
The main attributes of objects of this class are:

=over 3

=item *

The B<code> is a numerical value that indicates the overall
outcome of the request.

=item *

The B<message> is a short, human readable string that
corresponds to the I<code>.

=item *

The B<headers> contain additional information about the
response and describe the content.

=item *

The B<content> is an arbitrary amount of data.


Since we don't want to handle all possible I<code> values directly in
our programs, a libwww-perl response object has methods that can be
used to query what kind of response this is.  The most commonly used
response classification methods are:

=over 3

=item is_success()

The request was was successfully received, understood or accepted.

=item is_error()

The request failed.  The server or the resource might not be
available, access to the resource might be denied or other things might
have failed for some reason.


=head2 The User Agent

Let us assume that we have created a I<request> object. What do we
actually do with it in order to receive a I<response>?

The answer is that you pass it to a I<user agent> object and this
object takes care of all the things that need to be done
(like low-level communication and error handling) and returns
a I<response> object. The user agent represents your
application on the network and provides you with an interface that
can accept I<requests> and return I<responses>.

The user agent is an interface layer between
your application code and the network.  Through this interface you are
able to access the various servers on the network.

The class name for the user agent is C<LWP::UserAgent>.  Every
libwww-perl application that wants to communicate should create at
least one object of this class. The main method provided by this
object is request(). This method takes an C<HTTP::Request> object as
argument and (eventually) returns a C<HTTP::Response> object.

The user agent has many other attributes that let you
configure how it will interact with the network and with your

=over 3

=item *

The B<timeout> specifies how much time we give remote servers to
respond before the library disconnects and creates an
internal I<timeout> response.

=item *

The B<agent> specifies the name that your application should use when it
presents itself on the network.

=item *

The B<from> attribute can be set to the e-mail address of the person
responsible for running the application.  If this is set, then the
address will be sent to the servers with every request.

=item *

The B<parse_head> specifies whether we should initialize response
headers from the E<lt>head> section of HTML documents.

=item *

The B<proxy> and B<no_proxy> attributes specify if and when to go through
a proxy server. <URL:http://www.w3.org/pub/WWW/Proxies/>

=item *

The B<credentials> provide a way to set up user names and
passwords needed to access certain services.


Many applications want even more control over how they interact
with the network and they get this by sub-classing
C<LWP::UserAgent>.  The library includes a
sub-class, C<LWP::RobotUA>, for robot applications.

=head2 An Example

This example shows how the user agent, a request and a response are
represented in actual perl code:

  # Create a user agent object
  use LWP::UserAgent;
  $ua = LWP::UserAgent->new;
  $ua->agent("MyApp/0.1 ");

  # Create a request
  my $req = HTTP::Request->new(POST => 'http://search.cpan.org/search');

  # Pass request to the user agent and get a response back
  my $res = $ua->request($req);

  # Check the outcome of the response
  if ($res->is_success) {
      print $res->content;
  else {
      print $res->status_line, "\n";

The $ua is created once when the application starts up.  New request
objects should normally created for each request sent.


This section discusses the various protocol schemes and
the HTTP style methods that headers may be used for each.

For all requests, a "User-Agent" header is added and initialized from
the $ua->agent attribute before the request is handed to the network
layer.  In the same way, a "From" header is initialized from the
$ua->from attribute.

For all responses, the library adds a header called "Client-Date".
This header holds the time when the response was received by
your application.  The format and semantics of the header are the
same as the server created "Date" header.  You may also encounter other
"Client-XXX" headers.  They are all generated by the library
internally and are not received from the servers.

=head2 HTTP Requests

HTTP requests are just handed off to an HTTP server and it
decides what happens.  Few servers implement methods beside the usual
"GET", "HEAD", "POST" and "PUT", but CGI-scripts may implement
any method they like.

If the server is not available then the library will generate an
internal error response.

The library automatically adds a "Host" and a "Content-Length" header
to the HTTP request before it is sent over the network.

For a GET request you might want to add a "If-Modified-Since" or
"If-None-Match" header to make the request conditional.

For a POST request you should add the "Content-Type" header.  When you
try to emulate HTML E<lt>FORM> handling you should usually let the value
of the "Content-Type" header be "application/x-www-form-urlencoded".
See L<lwpcook> for examples of this.

The libwww-perl HTTP implementation currently support the HTTP/1.1
and HTTP/1.0 protocol.

The library allows you to access proxy server through HTTP.  This
means that you can set up the library to forward all types of request
through the HTTP protocol module.  See L<LWP::UserAgent> for
documentation of this.

=head2 HTTPS Requests

HTTPS requests are HTTP requests over an encrypted network connection
using the SSL protocol developed by Netscape.  Everything about HTTP
requests above also apply to HTTPS requests.  In addition the library
will add the headers "Client-SSL-Cipher", "Client-SSL-Cert-Subject" and
"Client-SSL-Cert-Issuer" to the response.  These headers denote the
encryption method used and the name of the server owner.

The request can contain the header "If-SSL-Cert-Subject" in order to
make the request conditional on the content of the server certificate.
If the certificate subject does not match, no request is sent to the
server and an internally generated error response is returned.  The
value of the "If-SSL-Cert-Subject" header is interpreted as a Perl
regular expression.

=head2 FTP Requests

The library currently supports GET, HEAD and PUT requests.  GET
retrieves a file or a directory listing from an FTP server.  PUT
stores a file on a ftp server.

You can specify a ftp account for servers that want this in addition
to user name and password.  This is specified by including an "Account"
header in the request.

User name/password can be specified using basic authorization or be
encoded in the URL.  Failed logins return an UNAUTHORIZED response with
"WWW-Authenticate: Basic" and can be treated like basic authorization
for HTTP.

The library supports ftp ASCII transfer mode by specifying the "type=a"
parameter in the URL. It also supports transfer of ranges for FTP transfers
using the "Range" header.

Directory listings are by default returned unprocessed (as returned
from the ftp server) with the content media type reported to be
"text/ftp-dir-listing". The C<File::Listing> module provides methods
for parsing of these directory listing.

The ftp module is also able to convert directory listings to HTML and
this can be requested via the standard HTTP content negotiation
mechanisms (add an "Accept: text/html" header in the request if you
want this).

For normal file retrievals, the "Content-Type" is guessed based on the
file name suffix. See L<LWP::MediaTypes>.

The "If-Modified-Since" request header works for servers that implement
the MDTM command.  It will probably not work for directory listings though.


  $req = HTTP::Request->new(GET => 'ftp://me:passwd@ftp.some.where.com/');
  $req->header(Accept => "text/html, */*;q=0.1");

=head2 News Requests

Access to the USENET News system is implemented through the NNTP
protocol.  The name of the news server is obtained from the
NNTP_SERVER environment variable and defaults to "news".  It is not
possible to specify the hostname of the NNTP server in news: URLs.

The library supports GET and HEAD to retrieve news articles through the
NNTP protocol.  You can also post articles to newsgroups by using
(surprise!) the POST method.

GET on newsgroups is not implemented yet.


  $req = HTTP::Request->new(GET => 'news:abc1234@a.sn.no');

  $req = HTTP::Request->new(POST => 'news:comp.lang.perl.test');
  $req->header(Subject => 'This is a test',
               From    => 'me@some.where.org');
  This is the content of the message that we are sending to
  the world.

=head2 Gopher Request

The library supports the GET and HEAD methods for gopher requests.  All
request header values are ignored.  HEAD cheats and returns a
response without even talking to server.

Gopher menus are always converted to HTML.

The response "Content-Type" is generated from the document type
encoded (as the first letter) in the request URL path itself.


  $req = HTTP::Request->new(GET => 'gopher://gopher.sn.no/');

=head2 File Request

The library supports GET and HEAD methods for file requests.  The
"If-Modified-Since" header is supported.  All other headers are
ignored.  The I<host> component of the file URL must be empty or set
to "localhost".  Any other I<host> value will be treated as an error.

Directories are always converted to an HTML document.  For normal
files, the "Content-Type" and "Content-Encoding" in the response are
guessed based on the file suffix.


  $req = HTTP::Request->new(GET => 'file:/etc/passwd');

=head2 Mailto Request

You can send (aka "POST") mail messages using the library.  All
headers specified for the request are passed on to the mail system.
The "To" header is initialized from the mail address in the URL.


  $req = HTTP::Request->new(POST => 'mailto:libwww@perl.org');
  $req->header(Subject => "subscribe");
  $req->content("Please subscribe me to the libwww-perl mailing list!\n");

=head2 CPAN Requests

URLs with scheme C<cpan:> are redirected to the a suitable CPAN
mirror.  If you have your own local mirror of CPAN you might tell LWP
to use it for C<cpan:> URLs by an assignment like this:

  $LWP::Protocol::cpan::CPAN = "file:/local/CPAN/";

Suitable CPAN mirrors are also picked up from the configuration for
the CPAN.pm, so if you have used that module a suitable mirror should
be picked automatically.  If neither of these apply, then a redirect
to the generic CPAN http location is issued.

Example request to download the newest perl:

  $req = HTTP::Request->new(GET => "cpan:src/latest.tar.gz");


This table should give you a quick overview of the classes provided by the
library. Indentation shows class inheritance.

 LWP::MemberMixin   -- Access to member variables of Perl5 classes
   LWP::UserAgent   -- WWW user agent class
     LWP::RobotUA   -- When developing a robot applications
   LWP::Protocol          -- Interface to various protocol schemes
     LWP::Protocol::http  -- http:// access
     LWP::Protocol::file  -- file:// access
     LWP::Protocol::ftp   -- ftp:// access

 LWP::Authen::Basic -- Handle 401 and 407 responses

 HTTP::Headers      -- MIME/RFC822 style header (used by HTTP::Message)
 HTTP::Message      -- HTTP style message
   HTTP::Request    -- HTTP request
   HTTP::Response   -- HTTP response
 HTTP::Daemon       -- A HTTP server class

 WWW::RobotRules    -- Parse robots.txt files
   WWW::RobotRules::AnyDBM_File -- Persistent RobotRules

 Net::HTTP          -- Low level HTTP client

The following modules provide various functions and definitions.

 LWP                -- This file.  Library version number and documentation.
 LWP::MediaTypes    -- MIME types configuration (text/html etc.)
 LWP::Debug         -- Debug logging module
 LWP::Simple        -- Simplified procedural interface for common functions
 HTTP::Status       -- HTTP status code (200 OK etc)
 HTTP::Date         -- Date parsing module for HTTP date formats
 HTTP::Negotiate    -- HTTP content negotiation calculation
 File::Listing      -- Parse directory listings
 HTML::Form         -- Processing for <form>s in HTML documents


All modules contain detailed information on the interfaces they
provide.  The I<lwpcook> manpage is the libwww-perl cookbook that contain
examples of typical usage of the library.  You might want to take a
look at how the scripts C<lwp-request>, C<lwp-rget> and C<lwp-mirror>
are implemented.


The following environment variables are used by LWP:


=item HOME

The C<LWP::MediaTypes> functions will look for the F<.media.types> and
F<.mime.types> files relative to you home directory.

=item http_proxy

=item ftp_proxy

=item xxx_proxy

=item no_proxy

These environment variables can be set to enable communication through
a proxy server.  See the description of the C<env_proxy> method in


Enable the old HTTP/1.0 protocol driver instead of the new HTTP/1.1
driver.  You might want to set this to a TRUE value if you discover
that your old LWP applications fails after you installed LWP-5.60 or


Used to decide what URI objects to instantiate.  The default is C<URI>.
You might want to set it to C<URI::URL> for compatibility with old times.


=head1 AUTHORS

LWP was made possible by contributions from Adam Newby, Albert
Dvornik, Alexandre Duret-Lutz, Andreas Gustafsson, Andreas König,
Andrew Pimlott, Andy Lester, Ben Coleman, Benjamin Low, Ben Low, Ben
Tilly, Blair Zajac, Bob Dalgleish, BooK, Brad Hughes, Brian
J. Murrell, Brian McCauley, Charles C. Fu, Charles Lane, Chris Nandor,
Christian Gilmore, Chris W. Unger, Craig Macdonald, Dale Couch, Dan
Kubb, Dave Dunkin, Dave W. Smith, David Coppit, David Dick, David
D. Kilzer, Doug MacEachern, Edward Avis, erik, Gary Shea, Gisle Aas,
Graham Barr, Gurusamy Sarathy, Hans de Graaff, Harald Joerg, Harry
Bochner, Hugo, Ilya Zakharevich, INOUE Yoshinari, Ivan Panchenko, Jack
Shirazi, James Tillman, Jan Dubois, Jared Rhine, Jim Stern, Joao
Lopes, John Klar, Johnny Lee, Josh Kronengold, Josh Rai, Joshua
Chamas, Joshua Hoblitt, Kartik Subbarao, Keiichiro Nagano, Ken
Williams, KONISHI Katsuhiro, Lee T Lindley, Liam Quinn, Marc Hedlund,
Marc Langheinrich, Mark D. Anderson, Marko Asplund, Mark Stosberg,
Markus B Krüger, Markus Laker, Martijn Koster, Martin Thurn, Matthew
Eldridge, Matthew.van.Eerde, Matt Sergeant, Michael A. Chase, Michael
Quaranta, Michael Thompson, Mike Schilli, Moshe Kaminsky, Nathan
Torkington, Nicolai Langfeldt, Norton Allen, Olly Betts, Paul
J. Schinder, peterm, Philip GuentherDaniel Buenzli, Pon Hwa Lin,
Radoslaw Zielinski, Radu Greab, Randal L. Schwartz, Richard Chen,
Robin Barker, Roy Fielding, Sander van Zoest, Sean M. Burke,
shildreth, Slaven Rezic, Steve A Fink, Steve Hay, Steven Butler,
Steve_Kilbane, Takanori Ugai, Thomas Lotterer, Tim Bunce, Tom Hughes,
Tony Finch, Ville Skyttä, Ward Vandewege, William York, Yale Huang,
and Yitzchak Scott-Thoennes.

LWP owes a lot in motivation, design, and code, to the libwww-perl
library for Perl4 by Roy Fielding, which included work from Alberto
Accomazzi, James Casey, Brooks Cutter, Martijn Koster, Oscar
Nierstrasz, Mel Melchner, Gertjan van Oosten, Jared Rhine, Jack
Shirazi, Gene Spafford, Marc VanHeyningen, Steven E. Brenner, Marion
Hakanson, Waldemar Kebsch, Tony Sanders, and Larry Wall; see the
libwww-perl-0.40 library for details.


  Copyright 1995-2005, Gisle Aas
  Copyright 1995, Martijn Koster

This library is free software; you can redistribute it and/or
modify it under the same terms as Perl itself.


The latest version of this library is likely to be available from CPAN
as well as:


The best place to discuss this code is on the <libwww@perl.org>
mailing list.