Writing An Apache Module To Add Custom "%" Directives

Published: December 5, 2016

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mod_log_config provides many useful ”%” directives for defining CustomLog formats. In combination with its friend, mod_logio, 99% percent of logging use cases are covered. However, one day, you may find that there’s something you want to log that is not accessible with the tools Apache provides you. Luckily, you can utilize Apache’s module system to add your own logging directives. In this guide, we’ll write an Apache module that adds a %^IH % directive which records request header size, in bytes.

Scaffolding The Module

Per the official Apache module development guide, all modules use the same boilerplate code to register themselves. We will call our module log_header_size. Put the following code into a file called mod_log_header_size.c

#include "apr_strings.h"
#include "apr_lib.h"
#include "apr_hash.h"
#include "apr_optional.h"

#define APR_WANT_STRFUNC
#include "apr_want.h"

#include "ap_config.h"
#include "mod_log_config.h"
#include "httpd.h"
#include "http_core.h"
#include "http_config.h"
#include "http_connection.h"
#include "http_protocol.h"

AP_DECLARE_MODULE(log_header_size) =
{
    STANDARD20_MODULE_STUFF,
    NULL,
    NULL,
    NULL,
    NULL,
    NULL,
    NULL
};

At this point let’s compile our module with apxs. Run the following command…

sudo apxs -i -a -c mod_log_header_size.c

NOTE: I ran into this issue running apxs on my MacBook Pro.

Congratulations, you have created your first Apache module!

Registering The % Directive

The source code for mod_logio is a useful example to learn how to register a % directive. Specifically, we can see the directives registered in the logio_pre_config function…

static int logio_pre_config(apr_pool_t *p, apr_pool_t *plog, apr_pool_t *ptemp)
{
    static APR_OPTIONAL_FN_TYPE(ap_register_log_handler) *log_pfn_register;

    log_pfn_register = APR_RETRIEVE_OPTIONAL_FN(ap_register_log_handler);

    if (log_pfn_register) {
        log_pfn_register(p, "I", log_bytes_in, 0);
        log_pfn_register(p, "O", log_bytes_out, 0);
        log_pfn_register(p, "S", log_bytes_combined, 0);
        log_pfn_register(p, "^FB", log_ttfb, 0);
    }

    return OK;
}

In this (abbreviated) code snippet, we can see that this function is hooked into the ap_hook_pre_config hook.

static void register_hooks(apr_pool_t *p)
{
    ap_hook_pre_config(logio_pre_config, NULL, NULL, APR_HOOK_REALLY_FIRST);
}

The registered “%” directives call then these functions to retrieve the values…

static const char *log_bytes_in(request_rec *r, char *a)
{
    logio_config_t *cf = ap_get_module_config(r->connection->conn_config,
                                              &logio_module);

    return apr_off_t_toa(r->pool, cf->bytes_in);
}

static const char *log_bytes_out(request_rec *r, char *a)
{
    logio_config_t *cf = ap_get_module_config(r->connection->conn_config,
                                              &logio_module);

    return apr_off_t_toa(r->pool, cf->bytes_out);
}

static const char *log_bytes_combined(request_rec *r, char *a)
{
    logio_config_t *cf = ap_get_module_config(r->connection->conn_config,
                                              &logio_module);

    return apr_off_t_toa(r->pool, cf->bytes_out + cf->bytes_in);
}

static const char *log_ttfb(request_rec *r, char *a)
{
    logio_req_t *rconf = ap_get_module_config(r->request_config,
                                           &logio_module);

    if (!rconf || !rconf->ttfb) { 
        return "-";
    }

    return apr_psprintf(r->pool, "%" APR_TIME_T_FMT, rconf->ttfb);
}

Stubbing The Value For Our Directive

Now that we’ve taken a quick look at the mod_logio source code, let’s update mod_log_header_size.c. At this point we’ll just register the %HI % directive and stub the value.

First we need to update our module directive to tell to it that we want to register hooks.

AP_DECLARE_MODULE(log_header_size) =
{
    STANDARD20_MODULE_STUFF,
    NULL,
    NULL,
    NULL,
    NULL,
    NULL,
    register_hooks
};

Just as mod_logio does, we want to hook into ap_hook_pre_config. Our register_hooks function looks like this…

static void register_hooks(apr_pool_t *p)
{
    ap_hook_pre_config(log_header_size_pre_config, NULL, NULL, APR_HOOK_REALLY_FIRST);
}

log_header_size_pre_config also looks very similar to logio_pre_config .

static int log_header_size_pre_config(apr_pool_t *p, apr_pool_t *plog, apr_pool_t *ptemp)
{
    static APR_OPTIONAL_FN_TYPE(ap_register_log_handler) *log_pfn_register;

    log_pfn_register = APR_RETRIEVE_OPTIONAL_FN(ap_register_log_handler);

    if (log_pfn_register) {
        log_pfn_register(p, "^IH", log_bytes_in_header, 0);
    }

    return OK;
}

Finally, we’ll stub out the value in log_bytes_in_header.

static const char *log_bytes_in_header(request_rec *r, char *a)
{
    return "Hello";
}

At this point, mod_log_header_size.c should look like this…

#include "apr_strings.h"
#include "apr_lib.h"
#include "apr_hash.h"
#include "apr_optional.h"

#define APR_WANT_STRFUNC
#include "apr_want.h"

#include "ap_config.h"
#include "mod_log_config.h"
#include "httpd.h"
#include "http_core.h"
#include "http_config.h"
#include "http_connection.h"
#include "http_protocol.h"

static const char *log_bytes_in_header(request_rec *r, char *a)
{
    return "Hello";
}

static int log_header_size_pre_config(apr_pool_t *p, apr_pool_t *plog, apr_pool_t *ptemp)
{
    static APR_OPTIONAL_FN_TYPE(ap_register_log_handler) *log_pfn_register;

    log_pfn_register = APR_RETRIEVE_OPTIONAL_FN(ap_register_log_handler);

    if (log_pfn_register) {
        log_pfn_register(p, "^IH", log_bytes_in_header, 0);
    }

    return OK;
}

static void register_hooks(apr_pool_t *p)
{
    ap_hook_pre_config(log_header_size_pre_config, NULL, NULL, APR_HOOK_REALLY_FIRST);
}

AP_DECLARE_MODULE(log_header_size) =
{
    STANDARD20_MODULE_STUFF,
    NULL,
    NULL,
    NULL,
    NULL,
    NULL,
    register_hooks
};

Let’s go ahead and compile it.

sudo apxs -i -a -c mod_log_header_size.c

You should now be able to add %^IH to a LogFormat string and see “Example” added to the logs.

Actually Getting The Request Header Size

In order to actually get the request header size we’ll take a look at the source code of another Apache module, mod_log_forensic. This module records the entire request headers to a log file for each request (it does a little more than that, feel free to read the documentation if you’re interested). The function is interest of log_before which uses apr_table_do to iterate through each of the request headers. Here’s an abbreviated version…

static int log_before(request_rec *r)
{
    hlog h;

    apr_table_do(log_headers, &h, r->headers_in, NULL);

    return OK;
}

apr_table_do calls log_headers for each header in the apr_table_t. apr_tables are documented here.

mod_log_forsensic hooks this into ap_hook_post_read_request.

static void register_hooks(apr_pool_t *p)
{
    static const char * const pre[] = { "mod_unique_id.c", NULL };
    ap_hook_post_read_request(log_before,pre,NULL,APR_HOOK_REALLY_FIRST);
}

We will combine this technique with mod_logios strategy for managing the % directives value in our implementation.

The Implementation

First, similar to mod_logio we will define a new type to wrap our data. At the top of mod_log_header_size.c add the following.

typedef struct log_header_size_config_t {
    apr_off_t bytes_in_header;
} log_header_size_config_t;

Per mod_logio we also need to add the following line at the top.

module AP_MODULE_DECLARE_DATA log_header_size_module;

Just like mod_logio we then hook into ap_hook_pre_connection and register an instance of the log_header_size_config_t struct which we will access through our module.

Add the following line to register hooks.

ap_hook_pre_connection(log_header_size_pre_connection, NULL, NULL, APR_HOOK_MIDDLE);

Then, define the function.

static int log_header_size_pre_connection(conn_rec *c, void *csd)
{
    log_header_size_config_t *cf = apr_palloc(c->pool, sizeof(*cf));

    ap_set_module_config(c->conn_config, &log_header_size_module, cf);

    return OK;
}

At this point, mod_log_header_size.c should look like this.

#include "apr_strings.h"
#include "apr_lib.h"
#include "apr_hash.h"
#include "apr_optional.h"

#define APR_WANT_STRFUNC
#include "apr_want.h"

#include "ap_config.h"
#include "mod_log_config.h"
#include "httpd.h"
#include "http_core.h"
#include "http_config.h"
#include "http_connection.h"
#include "http_protocol.h"

module AP_MODULE_DECLARE_DATA log_header_size_module;

typedef struct log_header_size_config_t {
    apr_off_t bytes_in_header;
} log_header_size_config_t;

static const char *log_bytes_in_header(request_rec *r, char *a)
{
    return "Hello";
}

static int log_header_size_pre_connection(conn_rec *c, void *csd)
{
    log_header_size_config_t *cf = apr_palloc(c->pool, sizeof(*cf));

    ap_set_module_config(c->conn_config, &log_header_size_module, cf);

    return OK;
}

static int log_header_size_pre_config(apr_pool_t *p, apr_pool_t *plog, apr_pool_t *ptemp)
{
    static APR_OPTIONAL_FN_TYPE(ap_register_log_handler) *log_pfn_register;

    log_pfn_register = APR_RETRIEVE_OPTIONAL_FN(ap_register_log_handler);

    if (log_pfn_register) {
        log_pfn_register(p, "^IH", log_bytes_in_header, 0);
    }

    return OK;
}

static void register_hooks(apr_pool_t *p)
{
    ap_hook_pre_connection(log_header_size_pre_connection, NULL, NULL, APR_HOOK_MIDDLE);
    ap_hook_pre_config(log_header_size_pre_config, NULL, NULL, APR_HOOK_REALLY_FIRST);
}

AP_DECLARE_MODULE(log_header_size) =
{
    STANDARD20_MODULE_STUFF,
    NULL,
    NULL,
    NULL,
    NULL,
    NULL,
    register_hooks
};

When compiled, it will behave exactly the same as it did before making any of these changes.

Actually Sending Back The Request Header Size

Next, we need to take what we learned from mod_log_forensic to update our log_header_size_config_t with the actual request header size. First lets hook into ap_hook_post_read_request .

ap_hook_post_read_request(log_header_size_post_read_request, NULL, NULL, APR_HOOK_REALLY_FIRST);

log_header_size_post_read_request will use apr_table_do as we saw in mod_log_forensic.

static int log_header_size_post_read_request(request_rec *r)
{
    log_header_size_config_t *cf = ap_get_module_config(r->connection->conn_config, &log_header_size_module);
    apr_table_do(gather_header_size, &cf->bytes_in_header, r->headers_in, NULL);

    return OK;
}

Then, gather_header_size will update log_header_size_config_t with the size of key and value for each header.

static int gather_header_size(void *b_, const char *key, const char *value)
{
    int *b = b_;
    (*b) += strlen(key);
    (*b) += strlen(value);

    return 1;
}

Now we can replace the stub response in log_bytes_in_header.

static const char *log_bytes_in_header(request_rec *r, char *a)
{
    log_header_size_config_t *cf = ap_get_module_config(r->connection->conn_config, &log_header_size_module);

    return apr_off_t_toa(r->pool, cf->bytes_in_header);
}

At this point our mod_log_header_size.c looks like this.

#include "apr_strings.h"
#include "apr_lib.h"
#include "apr_hash.h"
#include "apr_optional.h"

#define APR_WANT_STRFUNC
#include "apr_want.h"

#include "ap_config.h"
#include "mod_log_config.h"
#include "httpd.h"
#include "http_core.h"
#include "http_config.h"
#include "http_connection.h"
#include "http_protocol.h"

module AP_MODULE_DECLARE_DATA log_header_size_module;

typedef struct log_header_size_config_t {
    apr_off_t bytes_in_header;
} log_header_size_config_t;

static const char *log_bytes_in_header(request_rec *r, char *a)
{
    log_header_size_config_t *cf = ap_get_module_config(r->connection->conn_config, &log_header_size_module);

    return apr_off_t_toa(r->pool, cf->bytes_in_header);
}

static int gather_header_size(void *b_, const char *key, const char *value)
{
    int *b = b_;
    (*b) += strlen(key);
    (*b) += strlen(value);

    return 1;
}

static int log_header_size_post_read_request(request_rec *r)
{
    log_header_size_config_t *cf = ap_get_module_config(r->connection->conn_config, &log_header_size_module);
    apr_table_do(gather_header_size, &cf->bytes_in_header, r->headers_in, NULL);

    return OK;
}

static int log_header_size_pre_connection(conn_rec *c, void *csd)
{
    log_header_size_config_t *cf = apr_palloc(c->pool, sizeof(*cf));

    ap_set_module_config(c->conn_config, &log_header_size_module, cf);

    return OK;
}

static int log_header_size_pre_config(apr_pool_t *p, apr_pool_t *plog, apr_pool_t *ptemp)
{
    static APR_OPTIONAL_FN_TYPE(ap_register_log_handler) *log_pfn_register;

    log_pfn_register = APR_RETRIEVE_OPTIONAL_FN(ap_register_log_handler);

    if (log_pfn_register) {
        log_pfn_register(p, "^IH", log_bytes_in_header, 0);
    }

    return OK;
}

static void register_hooks(apr_pool_t *p)
{
    ap_hook_pre_connection(log_header_size_pre_connection, NULL, NULL, APR_HOOK_MIDDLE);
    ap_hook_pre_config(log_header_size_pre_config, NULL, NULL, APR_HOOK_REALLY_FIRST);
    ap_hook_post_read_request(log_header_size_post_read_request, NULL, NULL, APR_HOOK_REALLY_FIRST);
}

AP_DECLARE_MODULE(log_header_size) =
{
    STANDARD20_MODULE_STUFF,
    NULL,
    NULL,
    NULL,
    NULL,
    NULL,
    register_hooks
};

Try compiling it.

Wait, What?

If you’re testing things, out at this point, you’ll notice something strange. The values aren’t correct AND they just keep going up! This is because, per mod_logio we need to clean up after ourselves.

In order to do so, we hook into ap_hook_log_transaction .

ap_hook_log_transaction(log_header_size_log_transaction, NULL, NULL, APR_HOOK_MIDDLE);

log_header_size_log_transaction just cleans up our log_header_size_config_t .

static int log_header_size_log_transaction(request_rec *r)
{
    log_header_size_config_t *cf = ap_get_module_config(r->connection->conn_config, &log_header_size_module);
    cf->bytes_in_header = 0;

    return OK;
}

Putting it all together, we have this.

#include "apr_strings.h"
#include "apr_lib.h"
#include "apr_hash.h"
#include "apr_optional.h"

#define APR_WANT_STRFUNC
#include "apr_want.h"

#include "ap_config.h"
#include "mod_log_config.h"
#include "httpd.h"
#include "http_core.h"
#include "http_config.h"
#include "http_connection.h"
#include "http_protocol.h"

module AP_MODULE_DECLARE_DATA log_header_size_module;

typedef struct log_header_size_config_t {
    apr_off_t bytes_in_header;
} log_header_size_config_t;

static const char *log_bytes_in_header(request_rec *r, char *a)
{
    log_header_size_config_t *cf = ap_get_module_config(r->connection->conn_config, &log_header_size_module);

    return apr_off_t_toa(r->pool, cf->bytes_in_header);
}

static int gather_header_size(void *b_, const char *key, const char *value)
{
    int *b = b_;
    (*b) += strlen(key);
    (*b) += strlen(value);

    return 1;
}

static int log_header_size_post_read_request(request_rec *r)
{
    log_header_size_config_t *cf = ap_get_module_config(r->connection->conn_config, &log_header_size_module);
    apr_table_do(gather_header_size, &cf->bytes_in_header, r->headers_in, NULL);

    return OK;
}

static int log_header_size_pre_connection(conn_rec *c, void *csd)
{
    log_header_size_config_t *cf = apr_palloc(c->pool, sizeof(*cf));

    ap_set_module_config(c->conn_config, &log_header_size_module, cf);

    return OK;
}

static int log_header_size_pre_config(apr_pool_t *p, apr_pool_t *plog, apr_pool_t *ptemp)
{
    static APR_OPTIONAL_FN_TYPE(ap_register_log_handler) *log_pfn_register;

    log_pfn_register = APR_RETRIEVE_OPTIONAL_FN(ap_register_log_handler);

    if (log_pfn_register) {
        log_pfn_register(p, "^IH", log_bytes_in_header, 0);
    }

    return OK;
}

static int log_header_size_log_transaction(request_rec *r)
{
    log_header_size_config_t *cf = ap_get_module_config(r->connection->conn_config, &log_header_size_module);
    cf->bytes_in_header = 0;

    return OK;
}

static void register_hooks(apr_pool_t *p)
{
    ap_hook_pre_connection(log_header_size_pre_connection, NULL, NULL, APR_HOOK_MIDDLE);
    ap_hook_pre_config(log_header_size_pre_config, NULL, NULL, APR_HOOK_REALLY_FIRST);
    ap_hook_post_read_request(log_header_size_post_read_request, NULL, NULL, APR_HOOK_REALLY_FIRST);
    ap_hook_log_transaction(log_header_size_log_transaction, NULL, NULL, APR_HOOK_MIDDLE);
}

AP_DECLARE_MODULE(log_header_size) =
{
    STANDARD20_MODULE_STUFF,
    NULL,
    NULL,
    NULL,
    NULL,
    NULL,
    register_hooks
};

Go ahead and compile that and check your logs. It should be working perfectly!

Conclusion

I hope this guide provided a useful example of how Apache modules can be written to create custom % directives. I’ve published the code to Github here.

I don’t claim to be an expert in C by any means, so corrections and comments are certainly appreciated. Feel free to drop a note comments below, or, as always, you can reach me on Twitter as well.

Max ChadwickHi, I'm Max!

I'm a software developer who mainly works in PHP, but also dabbles in Ruby and Go. Technical topics that interest me are monitoring, security and performance.

During the day I solve challenging technical problems at Something Digital where I mainly work with the Magento platform. I also blog about tech, work on open source and hunt for bugs.

If you'd like to get in touch with me the best way is on Twitter.