feklee feklee - 1 year ago 380
HTTP Question

Send HTTP request from PHP without waiting for response?

I want to have an HTTP GET request sent from PHP. Example:


The idea is to do server-side web-analytics: Instead of sending tracking
information from JavaScript to a server, the server sends tracking
information directly to another server.


  • The request should take as little time as possible, in order to not
    noticeably delay processing of the PHP page.

  • The response from the
    does not need to be
    checked. As examples, some possible responses from

    • 200: That's fine, but no need to check that.

    • 404: Bad luck, but - again - no need to check that.

    • 301: Although a redirect would be appropriate, it would delay
      processing of the PHP page, so don't do that.

    In short: All responses can be discarded.

Ideas for solutions:

  • In a now deleted answer, someone suggested calling command line
    curl from PHP in a shell process. This seems like a good idea,
    only that I don't know if forking a lot of shell processes under
    heavy load is a wise thing to do.

  • I found php-ga, a package for doing server-side Google
    Analytics from PHP. On the project's page, it is
    mentioned: "Can be configured to [...] use non-blocking requests."
    So far I haven't found the time to investigate what method php-ga
    uses internally, but this method could be it!

In a nutshell: What is the best solution to do generic server-side
tracking/analytics from PHP.

Answer Source

Unfortunately PHP by definition is blocking. While this holds true for the majority of functions and operations you will normally be handling, the current scenario is different.

The process which I like to call HTTP-Ping, requires that you only touch a specific URI, forcing the specific server to boot-strap it's internal logic. Some functions allow you to achieve something very similar to this HTTP-ping, by not waiting for a response.

Take note that the process of pinging an url, is a two step process:

  1. Resolve the DNS
  2. Making the request

While making the request should be rather fast once the DNS is resolved and the connection is made, there aren't many ways of making the DNS resolve faster.

Some ways of doing an http-ping are:

  1. cURL, by setting CONNECTION_TIMEOUT to a low value
  2. fsockopen by closing immediately after writing
  3. stream_socket_client (same as fsockopen) and also adding STREAM_CLIENT_ASYNC_CONNECT

While both cURL and fsockopen are both blocking while the DNS is being resolved. I have noticed that fsockopen is significantly faster, even in worst case scenarios.

stream_socket_client on the other hand should fix the problem regarding DNS resolving and should be the optimal solution in this scenario, but I have not managed to get it to work.

One final solution is to start another thread/process that does this for you. Making a system call for this should work, but also forking the current process should do that also. Unfortunately both are not really safe in applications where you can't control the environment on which PHP is running.

System calls are more often than not blocked and pcntl is not enabled by default.

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