ptlib  2_10_9_5
About: ptlib (Portable Windows Library) offers a method to product applications to let run on both Microsoft Windows and Unix X-Windows systems.
  Fossies Dox: ptlib-2_10_9_5.tar.gz  ("unofficial" and yet experimental doxygen-generated source code documentation)  

No Matches
Portable Tools Library

Table of Contents


This document provides reference information for the PTLib C++ class library. It is not intended as a tutorial document.

Copyright (C) 1999-2003 Equivalence Pty Ltd, All right reserved
Portions Copyright (C) 2004 Post Increment, All Rights Reserved
Portions Copyright (C) 2009 Vox Lucida Pty, Ltd., All Rights Reserved


PTLib is a moderately large C++ class library that originated many years ago as a method to produce applications that run on both Microsoft Windows and Unix X-Windows systems. It also was to have a Macintosh port as well, but this never eventuated. In those days it was called the PWLib the Portable Windows Library.

Since then, the availability of multi-platform GUI toolkits such as KDE and wxWindows, and the development of the OpenH323 and OPAL projects as primary user of the library, has emphasised the focus on networking, I/O portability, multi-threading and protocol portability. Mostly, the library is used to create high performance and highly portable network-centric applications. So all the GUI abstractions ahave been dropped and it was renamed the Portable Tools Library that you see today.

In addition to these high level functions, basic "container" classes such as arrays, linear lists, sorted lists (RB Tree) and dictionaries (hash tables) are available. These were created before the emergence of STL as a standard, so unfortunately these constructs are incompatible with iterators and generic algorithms.

Development continues in this area, and future versions of PTLib will see increased use of, and compatibility with, STL, but it is a long and slow process.

The library is used extensively by many companies for both commercial and Open Source products. The motivation in making PTLib available as Open Source was primarily to support the OpenH323 and OPAL projects, but it is definitely useful as a stand-alone library to anyone that wishes to write portable applications.

The classes within PTLib are seperated into two types: Base Classes and Console Components The Base Classes contain all of the essential support for constructs such as containers, threads and sockets that are dependent on platform specific features. All PTLib programs will require the Base Classes

The Console Components implement functionality that is usually platform independent, and may not be required for all programs. On some platforms (notably Windows) the Base Classes and Console Components may be divided into discrete library archives. Other platforms (notably Unix platforms) combine all of the code into a single library and rely on the linker to omit code that is not required.

Note that previous versions of PTLib also contained GUI classes and GUI components, but support for these classes has been discontinued.

Using PTLib

Tutorial introductions for PTLib are available elsewhere (see, but some information on how to create a simple program is always useful.

Here is the canonical "Hello world!" program written using the PTLib infrastructure.

// hello.cxx

#include <ptlib.h>

class Hello : public PProcess
  PCLASSINFO(Hello, PProcess)
    void Main();


void Hello::Main()
  cout << "Hello world!\n";

// End of hello.cxx

The PCREATE_PROCESS macro actually defines the main() function and creates an instance of Hello. This assures that everything is initialised in the correct order. C++ does initialisation of global statics badly (and destruction is even worse), so try to put everything into your PProcess descedent rather than globals.

Base Classes

Base Object and Container Classes

  • PObject - the base class for all other classes in the PTLib.
  • PContainer - the base class for all reference-counted classes in PTLib.
  • PArray - base class for array of objects. Equivalent to the STL vector template class.
  • PList - base class for lists of objects. Equivalent to the STL list template class.
  • PDictionary - base class for dictionaries. Equivalent to the STL map template class.
  • PSet - base class for sets. Equivalent to the STL set template class.
  • PString - base class for the string abstraction. Equivalent to the STL string class.
  • PCaselessString - class for a string that ignores case.
  • PSmartPointer - a reference counted pointer
  • PSmartNotifierFunction - a smart notifier function that uses object IDs rather than pointers
  • PNotifier - a notifier function that allows any class to call a member function on any other class

I/O Channel Classes

Classes that perform general I/O using the PChannel abstraction

Socket Classes

Implementation of a network sockets abstraction (roughly based on Berkeley sockets)

Process and Thread Classes

Classes that handle processes, multi-threading and synchronsiation.

  • PProcess - implements the primary thread of control for a running program
  • PServiceProcess - implements a "daemon" or "system process"
  • PDynaLink - abstraction for dynamic or sharabel libraries, loadable at run-time.
  • PThread - abstracts a thread of control or execution context
  • PThreadPool - manage a pool of threads for execution.
  • PSemaphore - synchronisation primitive based on a counter
  • PMutex - synchronisation primitive based on mutual exclusion
  • PSyncPoint - allows multiple threads to sychronise to a specific code point. See also PSyncPointAck
  • PReadWriteMutex - mutex that allows multiple readers, single writer model.
  • PAtomicInteger - implements an integer counter with atomic increment and decrement operations
  • PSafeObject - base class for objects used by the PSafeCollection system.

Process and Thread Classes

Classes that normalise other opeating system functions.

  • PConfig - provide persistent storage for program settings using a platform-appropriate mechanism
  • PTime - abstracts the notion of a wall-clock time and date
  • PTimeInterval - abstracts the notion of a time interval as the difference between two PTime values
  • PTimer - one shot or continuous timers with optional execution of a function on expiry.
  • PMail - send an email using a platform-appropriate mechanism
  • PTextToSpeech - Implement a Text to Speech converter
  • PRemoteConnection - controls for a dialup network connection
  • PVideoDevice - abstract class for video devices

Console Components

Protocol Classes

Implementation of various Internet-related protocols. Some of these are implemented within PTLib - some require external libraries for support

  • PInternetProtocol - base class for all text-based Internet protocols
  • PPOP3 - base class for POP3 protocol classes. See also PPOP3Client and PPOP3Server
  • PSMTP - base class for SMTP protocol classes. See also PSMTPClient and PSMTPServer
  • PFTP - base class for FTP protocol classes. See also PFTPClient and FTPServer
  • PMIMEInfo - implements a list of key-value pairs in MIME format
  • PTelnetSocket - implements the TELNET protocol
  • PSocksProtocol - base class for SOCKS protocol implementation. See also PSocks4Socket, PSocks5Socket, PSocksSocket, PSocksUDPSocket
  • PSTUNClient - implementation of a STUN client
  • PSNMP - base classs for SNMP protocol implementations. See also PSNMPClient and PSNMPServer
  • PSSLChannel - PIndirectChannel that implements the SSL protocol via OpenSSL.
  • PSASLClient - implements the SASL protocol via the Cyrus SASL library
  • PXMLRPC - implements the XMLRPC protocol via the Expat XML library and the HTTP classes
  • PSOAPClient - implements a SOAP client
  • PLDAPSession - implements a LDAP client via the OpenLDAP library
  • PILSSession - implements a ILS client via the OpenLDAP library
  • XMPP::Stream - implements a XMPP (Jabber) stream as a PChannel.

HTTP Classes

Implementation of the HTTP protocol

  • PHTTP - base class for HTTP protocol. See also PHTTPClient and PHTTPServer
  • PURL - parse and maniulate uniform resource locations
  • PHTML - a string stream that formats HTML information
  • PHTTPForm - allows the creation of HTTP forms
  • PHTTPServiceProcess - a PServiceProcess descendant that contains a HTTP server

Miscellaneous Classes

  • PPluginManager - manage plugin code modules
  • PArgList - parse a command line passed to a console program
  • PRandom - a random number generator
  • PAdaptiveDelay - class to make delays as constant as possible despite operating system errors.
  • PFactory - an implementation of the "Factory" paradigm using templates
  • PRegularExpression - class for handling regular expression parsing.
  • PIpAccessControlList - a list of entries that allow specification of a range of IP addresses or networks
  • PCypher - implementation of various code cyphers such as PMessageDigest5, PTEACypher, and PMessageDigestSHA1
  • PBase64 - Base 64 encoder/decoder.
  • PWAVFile - implements a AIFF format WAV file
  • PDTMFDecoder - decodes DTMF digits from a stream of PCM data
  • PXML - Implements a parser for XML using the Expat library
  • PVXMLChannel - Implements a parser for the VXML language
  • PCLI - command line interpreter.


  • 17 May 2004 - Converted from Doc++ to Doxygen format by Craig Southeren 5 Apr 2010 - Major clean up of documentation inconsistencies.