Getting started§

The simplest imaginable use of NativeCall would look something like this:

use NativeCall;
sub some_argless_function() is native('something'{ * }

The first line imports various traits and types. The next line looks like a relatively ordinary Raku sub declaration—with a twist. We use the native trait in order to specify that the sub is actually defined in a native library. The platform-specific extension (e.g., .so or .dll), as well as any customary prefixes (e.g., lib) will be added for you.

The first time you call "some_argless_function", the "libsomething" will be loaded and the "some_argless_function" will be located in it. A call will then be made. Subsequent calls will be faster, since the symbol handle is retained.

Of course, most functions take arguments or return values—but everything else that you can do is just adding to this simple pattern of declaring a Raku sub, naming it after the symbol you want to call and marking it with the native trait.

You will also need to declare and use native types, which cannot be imported from the shared library in the same way. Please check the native types page for more information.

Except in the case you are using your own compiled libraries, or any other kind of bundled library, shared libraries are versioned, i.e., they will be in a file, and this shared library will be symlinked to By default, Raku will pick up that file if it's the only existing one. This is why it's safer, and advisable, to always include a version, this way:

sub some_argless_function() is native('foo'v1.2.3) { * }

Please check the section on the ABI/API version for more information.

NativeCall helper module§

A non-core Raku module, App::GPTrixie, has a Raku program, gptrixie, to establish a starting code framework when initiating a new NativeCall project. It describes itself as A tool to generate NativeCall code from C headers and its Github repository is here. For now it is only for the C language but C++ support is planned.

Changing names§

Sometimes you want the name of your Raku subroutine to be different from the name used in the library you're loading. Maybe the name is long or has different casing or is otherwise cumbersome within the context of the module you are trying to create.

NativeCall provides a symbol trait for you to specify the name of the native routine in your library that may be different from your Raku subroutine name.

unit module Foo;
use NativeCall;
our sub init() is native('foo'is symbol('FOO_INIT'{ * }

Inside of libfoo there is a routine called FOO_INIT but, since we're creating a module called Foo and we'd rather call the routine as Foo::init (instead of Foo::FOO_INIT), we use the symbol trait to specify the name of the symbol in libfoo and call the subroutine whatever we want (init in this case).

Passing and returning values§

Normal Raku signatures and the returns trait are used in order to convey the type of arguments a native function expects and what it returns. Here is an example.

use NativeCall;
sub add(int32int32returns int32 is native("calculator"{ * }

Here, we have declared that the function takes two 32-bit integers and returns a 32-bit integer. You can find the other types that you may pass in the native types page. Note that the lack of a returns trait is used to indicate void return type. Do not use the void type anywhere except in the Pointer parameterization.

For strings, there is an additional encoded trait to give some extra hints on how to do the marshaling.

use NativeCall;
sub message_box(Str is encoded('utf8')) is native('gui'{ * }

To specify how to marshal string return types, just apply this trait to the routine itself.

use NativeCall;
sub input_box() returns Str is encoded('utf8'is native('gui'{ * }

Note that a NULL string pointer can be passed by using the Str type object; a NULL return will also be represented by the type object.

If the C function requires the lifetime of data, say some buffer of type CArray[uint8], passed by pointer to exceed the function call, you have to ensure that the backing CArray[uint8] Raku object is not destroyed before the C function expects it.

This is particularly important for strings, as the (usually preferable) is encoded-way of passing strings creates only a temporary object that is automatically destroyed after the call. In this case, the argument must be manually encoded:

use NativeCall;
# void set_foo(const char *) 
# Records a char pointer for later usage 
sub set_foo(CArray[uint8]) is native('foo'{ * }
# void use_foo(void) 
# Uses the pointer stored by set_foo() 
sub use_foo() is native('foo'{ * }
my $string = "FOO";
# Manually marshal the $string into $array. Take care that $array 
# is not destroyed (e.g. by going out of scope) while the library 
# still holds on to it, after set_foo(). 
# $string.encode takes care of UTF-8 encoding. If $array is used 
# as a string by the native function, don't forget to append the 
# NUL byte that terminates a C string: ------------v 
my $array = CArray[uint8].new($string.encode.list0);
# ... 
# It's fine if $array goes out of scope starting from here.

Specifying the native representation§

When working with native functions, sometimes you need to specify what kind of native data structure is going to be used. is repr is the term employed for that.

use NativeCall;
class timespec is repr('CStruct'{
    has uint32 $.tv_sec;
    has long $.tv_nanosecs;
sub clock_gettime(uint32 $clock-idtimespec $tspec --> uint32is native { * };
my timespec $this-time .=new;
my $result = clock_gettime0$this-time);
say "$result$this-time"# OUTPUT: «0, timespec<65385480>␤» 

The original function we are calling, clock_gettime, uses a pointer to the timespec struct as second argument. We declare it as a class here, but specify its representation as is repr('CStruct'), to indicate it corresponds to a C data structure. When we create an object of that class, we are creating exactly the kind of pointer clock_gettime expects. This way, data can be transferred seamlessly to and from the native interface.

Basic use of pointers§

When the signature of your native function needs a pointer to some native type (int32, uint32, etc.) all you need to do is declare the argument is rw:

use NativeCall;
# C prototype is void my_version(int *major, int *minor) 
sub my_version(int32 is rwint32 is rwis native('foo'{ * }
my_version(my int32 $majormy int32 $minor); # Pass a pointer to

When you just want to use/pass a pointer using the Pointer class you have to create the pointers when declaring them; then you can do this without specifying what type it points to. Here is an example:

use NativeCall;
# C prototype is void create_object(void **object) 
sub create_object(Pointer is rwis native('foo'{ * }
my Pointer $p =;
create_object($p); # pointer is set by create_object

The Pointer class can be used with types as well e.g. Pointer[Str]. Note that Str is a pointer to a string (char * in C/C++). So in that case, you can use Pointer[Str] or Str.

Sometimes you need to get a pointer (for example, a filehandle) back from a C library. You don't care about what it points to - you just need to grab hold of it. The Pointer type provides for this.

use NativeCall;
sub Foo_init() returns Pointer is native("foo"{ * }
sub Foo_free(Pointeris native("foo"{ * }

This works out OK, but you may fancy working with a type named something better than Pointer. It turns out that any class with the representation CPointer can serve this role. This means you can expose libraries that work on handles by writing a class like this:

use NativeCall;
class FooHandle is repr('CPointer'{
    # Here are the actual NativeCall functions. 
    sub Foo_init() returns FooHandle is native("foo"{ * }
    sub Foo_free(FooHandleis native("foo"{ * }
    sub Foo_query(FooHandleStrreturns int8 is native("foo"{ * }
    sub Foo_close(FooHandlereturns int8 is native("foo"{ * }
    # Here are the methods we use to expose it to the outside world. 
    method new {
    method query(Str $stmt{
    method close {
    # Free data when the object is garbage collected. 
    submethod DESTROY {

Note that the CPointer representation can do nothing more than hold a C pointer. This means that your class cannot have extra attributes. However, for simple libraries this may be a neat way to expose an object oriented interface to it.

You can always have an empty class:

class DoorHandle is repr('CPointer'{ }

And just use the class as you would use Pointer, but with potential for better type safety and more readable code.

Once again, type objects are used to represent NULL pointers.

Function pointers§

C libraries can expose pointers to C functions as return values of functions and as members of structures such as structs and unions.

Example of invoking a function pointer $fptr returned by a function f, using a signature defining the desired function parameters and return value:

sub f() returns Pointer is native('mylib'{ * }
my $fptr    = f();
my &newfunc = nativecast(:(Strsize_t --> int32), $fptr);
say newfunc("test"4);


NativeCall has some support for arrays. It is constrained to work with machine-size integers, doubles and strings, sized numeric types, arrays of pointers, arrays of structs, and arrays of arrays.

Raku arrays, which support amongst other things laziness, are laid out in memory in a radically different way to C arrays. Therefore, the NativeCall library offers a much more primitive CArray type, which you must use if working with C arrays.

Here is an example of passing a C array.

sub RenderBarChart(Strint32CArray[Str], CArray[num64]) is native("chart"{ * }
my @titles := CArray[Str].new;
@titles[0]  = 'Me';
@titles[1]  = 'You';
@titles[2]  = 'Hagrid';
my @values := CArray[num64].new;
@values[0]  = 59.5e0;
@values[1]  = 61.2e0;
@values[2]  = 180.7e0;
RenderBarChart('Weights (kg)'3@titles@values);

Note that binding was used to @titles, not assignment! If you assign, you are putting the values into a Raku array, and it will not work out. If this all freaks you out, forget you ever knew anything about the @ sigil and just use $ all the way when using NativeCall.

use NativeCall;
my $titles = CArray[Str].new;
$titles[0= 'Me';
$titles[1= 'You';
$titles[2= 'Hagrid';

Getting return values for arrays works out just the same.

Some library APIs may take an array as a buffer that will be populated by the C function and, for instance, return the actual number of items populated:

use NativeCall;
sub get_n_ints(CArray[int32], int32returns int32 is native('ints'{ * }

In these cases it is important that the CArray has at least the number of elements that are going to be populated before passing it to the native subroutine, otherwise the C function may stomp all over Raku's memory leading to possibly unpredictable behavior:

my $number_of_ints = 10;
my $ints = CArray[int32].allocate($number_of_ints); # instantiates an array with 10 elements 
my $n = get_n_ints($ints$number_of_ints);

Note: allocate was introduced in Rakudo 2018.05. Before that, you had to use this mechanism to extend an array to a number of elements:

my $ints = CArray[int32].new;
my $number_of_ints = 10;
$ints[$number_of_ints - 1= 0# extend the array to 10 items 

It is important that you understand how arrays manage memory. When you create an array yourself, then you can add elements to it as you wish and it will be expanded for you as required. However, this may result in it being moved in memory (assignments to existing elements will never cause this, however). This means you'd best know what you're doing if you twiddle with an array after passing it to a C library.

By contrast, when a C library returns an array to you, then the memory can not be managed by NativeCall, and it doesn't know where the array ends. Presumably, something in the library API tells you this (for example, you know that when you see a null element, you should read no further). Note that NativeCall can offer you no protection whatsoever here - do the wrong thing, and you will get a segfault or cause memory corruption. This isn't a shortcoming of NativeCall, it's the way the big bad native world works. Scared? Here, have a hug. Good luck!

CArray methods§

Besides the usual methods available on every Raku instance, CArray provides the following methods that can be used to interact with it from the Raku point of view:

  • elems provides the number of elements within the array;

  • AT-POS provides a specific element at the given position (starting from zero). This method is not intended to be used directly, but invoked using the subscript notation [].

  • list provides the List of elements within the array building it from the native array iterator.

As an example, consider the following simple piece of code:

use NativeCall;
my $native-array = CArray[int32].new12345 );
say 'Number of elements: ' ~ $native-array.elems;
# walk the array 
for $native-array.list -> $elem {
    say "Current element is: $elem";
# get every element by its index-based position 
for 0..$native-array.elems - 1 -> $position {
    say "Element at position $position is "
          ~ $native-array$position ];

that produces the following output

Number of elements: 5
Current element is: 1
Current element is: 2
Current element is: 3
Current element is: 4
Current element is: 5
Element at position 0 is 1
Element at position 1 is 2
Element at position 2 is 3
Element at position 3 is 4
Element at position 4 is 5

CArray sub-arrays§

To use a sub-array of a given CArray is a simple exercise of pointer math. Feel free to use the following example to create your own:

sub subarray (
  $a#= The CArray to use 
  $o  #= The offset into the array where the subarray should start 
is export {
  my $b = nativecast(Pointer[$a.of], $a);
  nativecast(CArray[$a.of], $b.add($o) );


Thanks to representation polymorphism, it's possible to declare a normal looking Raku class that, under the hood, stores its attributes in the same way a C compiler would lay them out in a similar struct definition. All it takes is a quick use of the repr trait:

class Point is repr('CStruct'{
    has num64 $.x;
    has num64 $.y;

The attributes can only be of the types that NativeCall knows how to marshal into struct fields. Currently, structs can contain machine-sized integers, doubles, strings, and other NativeCall objects (CArrays, and those using the CPointer and CStruct reprs). Other than that, you can do the usual set of things you would with a class; you could even have some of the attributes come from roles or have them inherited from another class. Methods are completely fine too. Go wild!

CStruct objects are passed to native functions by reference and native functions must also return CStruct objects by reference. The memory management rules for these references are very much like the rules for arrays, though simpler since a struct is never resized. When you create a struct, the memory is managed for you and when the variable(s) pointing to the instance of a CStruct go away, the memory will be freed when the GC gets to it. When a CStruct-based type is used as the return type of a native function, the memory is not managed for you by the GC.

NativeCall currently doesn't put object members in containers, so assigning new values to them (with =) doesn't work. Instead, you have to bind (with :=) new values to the private members:

class MyStruct is repr('CStruct'{
    has CArray[num64$!arr;
    has Str $!str;
    has Point $!point# Point is a user-defined class shown above 
    submethod TWEAK {
        my $arr := CArray[num64].new;
        $arr[0= 0.9e0;
        $arr[1= 0.2e0;
        $!arr := $arr;
        $!str := 'Raku is fun';
        $!point :=;

As you may have predicted by now, a NULL pointer is represented by the type object of the struct type.


Likewise, it is possible to declare a Raku class that stores its attributes the same way a C compiler would lay them out in a similar union definition; using the CUnion representation:

use NativeCall;
class MyUnion is repr('CUnion'{
    has int32 $.flags32;
    has int64 $.flags64;
say nativesizeof(;  # OUTPUT: «8␤» 
                                # ie. max(sizeof(MyUnion.flags32), sizeof(MyUnion.flags64)) 


CStructs and CUnions can be in turn referenced by—or embedded into—a surrounding CStruct and CUnion. To say the former we use has as usual, and to do the latter we use the HAS declarator instead:

class MyStruct is repr('CStruct'{
    has Point $.point;  # referenced 
    has int32 $.flags;
say nativesizeof(;  # OUTPUT: «16␤» 
                                 # ie. sizeof(struct Point *) + sizeof(int32_t) 
class MyStruct2 is repr('CStruct'{
    HAS Point $.point;  # embedded 
    has int32 $.flags;
say nativesizeof(;  # OUTPUT: «24␤» 
                                  # ie. sizeof(struct Point) + sizeof(int32_t) 

Notes on memory management§

When allocating a struct for use as a struct, make sure that you allocate your own memory in your C functions. If you're passing a struct into a C function which needs a Str/char* allocated ahead of time, be sure to assign a container for a variable of type Str prior to passing your struct into the function.

In your Raku code...§

class AStringAndAnInt is repr("CStruct"{
  has Str $.a_string;
  has int32 $.an_int32;
  sub init_struct(AStringAndAnInt is rwStrint32is native('simple-struct'{ * }
  submethod BUILD(:$a_string:$an_int{

In this code we first set up our members, $.a_string and $.an_int32. After that we declare our init_struct() function for the init() method to wrap around; this function is then called from BUILD to effectively assign the values before returning the created object.

Please note that BUILD is binding attributes of native types, such as $.an_int32. You can always bind native types this way.

In your C code...§

typedef struct a_string_and_an_int32_t_ {
  char *a_string;
  int32_t an_int32;
} a_string_and_an_int32_t;

Here's the structure. Notice how we've got a char * there.

void init_struct(a_string_and_an_int32_t *target, char *str, int32_t int32) {
  target->an_int32 = int32;
  target->a_string = strdup(str);


In this function we initialize the C structure by assigning an integer by value, and passing the string by reference. The function allocates memory that it points char *a_string to within the structure as it copies the string. (Note you will also have to manage deallocation of the memory as well to avoid memory leaks.)

# A long time ago in a galaxy far, far away... 
my $foo = => "str"an_int => 123);
say "foo is {$foo.a_string} and {$foo.an_int32}";
# OUTPUT: «foo is str and 123␤» 

Typed pointers§

You can type your Pointer by passing the type as a parameter. It works with the native type but also with CArray and CStruct defined types. NativeCall will not implicitly allocate the memory for it even when calling new on them. It's mostly useful in the case of a C routine returning a pointer, or if it's a pointer embedded in a CStruct.

use NativeCall;
sub strdup(Str $s --> Pointer[Str]) is native { * }
my Pointer[Str$p = strdup("Success!");
say $p.deref;

You have to call .deref on Pointers to access the embedded type. In the example above, declaring the type of the pointer avoids typecasting error when dereferenced. Please note that the original strdup returns a pointer to char; we are using Pointer[Str].

my Pointer[int32$p#For a pointer on int32; 
my Pointer[MyCstruct$p2 = some_c_routine();
my MyCstruct $mc = $p2.deref;
say $mc.field1;

It's quite common for a native function to return a pointer to an array of elements. Typed pointers can be dereferenced as an array to obtain individual elements.

my $n = 5;
# returns a pointer to an array of length $n 
my Pointer[Point$plot = some_other_c_routine($n);
# display the 5 elements in the array 
for 1 .. $n -> $i {
    my $x = $plot[$i - 1].x;
    my $y = $plot[$i - 1].y;
    say "$i: ($x$y)";

Pointers can also be updated to reference successive elements in the array:

my Pointer[Point$elem = $plot;
# show differences between successive points 
for 1 ..^ $n {
    my Point $lo = $elem.deref;
    ++$elem# equivalent to $elem = $elem.add(1); 
    my Point $hi = (++$elem).deref;
    my $dx = $hi.x = $lo.x;
    my $dy = $hi.y = $lo.y;
    say "$_: delta ($dx$dy)";

Void pointers can also be used by declaring them Pointer[void]. Please consult the native types documentation for more information on the subject.


Explicit memory management§

Let's say there is some C code that caches strings passed, like so:

#include <stdlib.h>

static char *__VERSION;

char *
    return __VERSION;

char *
set_version(char *version)
    if (__VERSION != NULL) free(__VERSION);
    __VERSION = version;
    return __VERSION;

If you were to write bindings for get_version and set_version, they would initially look like this, but will not work as intended:

sub get_version(--> Str)     is native('./version'{ * }
sub set_version(Str --> Stris native('./version'{ * }
say set_version('1.0.0'); # 1.0.0 
say get_version;          # Differs on each run 
say set_version('1.0.1'); # Double free; segfaults 

This code segfaults on the second set_version call because it tries to free the string passed on the first call after the garbage collector had already done so. If the garbage collector shouldn't free a string passed to a native function, use explicitly-manage with it:

say set_version(explicitly-manage('1.0.0')); # 1.0.0 
say get_version;                             # 1.0.0 
say set_version(explicitly-manage('1.0.1')); # 1.0.1 
say get_version;                             # 1.0.1 

Bear in mind all memory management for explicitly managed strings must be handled by the C library itself or through the NativeCall API to prevent memory leaks.

Buffers and blobs§

Blobs and Bufs are the Raku way of storing binary data. We can use them for interchange of data with native functions and data structures, although not directly. We will have to use nativecast.

my $blob =;
my $src = nativecast(Pointer$blob);

This $src can then be used as an argument for any native function that takes a Pointer. The opposite, putting values pointed to by a Pointer into a Buf or using it to initialize a Blob is not directly supported. You might want to use NativeHelpers::Blob to do this kind of operations.

my $esponja = blob-from-pointer$inter:2elems, :type(Blob[int8]));
say $esponja;

Function arguments§

NativeCall also supports native functions that take functions as arguments. One example of this is using function pointers as callbacks in an event-driven system. When binding these functions via NativeCall, one needs only provide the equivalent signature as a constraint on the code parameter. In the case of NativeCall, however, as of Rakudo 2019.07, a space between the function argument and the signature, and the colon of a normal Signature literal is omitted, as in:

use NativeCall;
# void SetCallback(int (*callback)(const char *)) 
my sub SetCallback(&callback (Str --> int32)) is native('mylib'{ * }

Note: the native code is responsible for memory management of values passed to Raku callbacks this way. In other words, NativeCall will not free() strings passed to callbacks.

It is important that any code passed as a native callback handles its exceptions and, if applicable, returns an appropriate error value to the native code that invoked it. It is not allowed to throw an exception out of a native callback, and doing so will lead to process termination.

Library paths and names§

The native trait accepts the library name, the full path, or a subroutine returning either of the two. When using the library name, the name is assumed to be prepended with lib and appended with .so (or just appended with .dll on Windows), and will be searched for in the paths in the LD_LIBRARY_PATH (PATH on Windows) environment variable.

use NativeCall;
constant LIBMYSQL = 'mysqlclient';
constant LIBFOO = '/usr/lib/';
sub LIBBAR {
    my $path = qx/pkg-config --libs libbar/.chomp;
    $path ~~ s/\/[[\w+]+ % \/]/\0\/bar/;
# and later 
sub mysql_affected_rows returns int32 is native(LIBMYSQL{ * };
sub bar is native(LIBFOO{ * }
sub baz is native(LIBBAR{ * }

You can also put an incomplete path like './foo' and NativeCall will automatically put the right extension according to the platform specification. If you wish to suppress this expansion, simply pass the string as the body of a block.

sub bar is native({ './lib/Non Standard Naming Scheme' }{ * }

BE CAREFUL: the native trait and constant are evaluated at compile time. Don't write a constant that depends on a dynamic variable like:

constant LIBMYSQL = %*ENV<P6LIB_MYSQLCLIENT> || 'mysqlclient';

This will keep the value given at compile time. A module will be precompiled and LIBMYSQL will keep the value it acquires when the module gets precompiled.

ABI/API version§

If you write native('foo') NativeCall will search under Unix like system (libfoo.dynlib on OS X, foo.dll on win32). In most modern system it will require you or the user of your module to install the development package because it's recommended to always provide an API/ABI version to a shared library, so ends often being a symbolic link provided only by a development package.

To avoid that, the native trait allows you to specify the API/ABI version. It can be a full version or just a part of it. (Try to stick to Major version, some BSD code does not care for Minor.)

use NativeCall;
sub foo1 is native('foo'v1{ * } # Will try to load 
sub foo2 is native('foo'v1.2.3) { * } # Will try to load 
my List $lib = ('foo''v1');
sub foo3 is native($lib{ * }


The native trait also accepts a Callable as argument, allowing you to provide your own way to handle the way it will find the library file to load.

use NativeCall;
sub foo is native(sub {''}{ * }

It will only be called at the first invocation of the sub.

Calling into the standard library§

If you want to call a C function that's already loaded, either from the standard library or from your own program, you can omit the value, so is native.

For example on a UNIX-like operating system, you could use the following code to print the home directory of the current user:

use NativeCall;
my class PwStruct is repr('CStruct'{
    has Str $.pw_name;
    has Str $.pw_passwd;
    has uint32 $.pw_uid;
    has uint32 $.pw_gid;
    has Str $.pw_gecos;
    has Str $.pw_dir;
    has Str $.pw_shell;
sub getuid()              returns uint32   is native { * };
sub getpwuid(uint32 $uidreturns PwStruct is native { * };
say getpwuid(getuid()).pw_dir;

Although $*HOME is a much easier way :-)!

Exported variables§

Variables exported by a library – also named "global" or "extern" variables – can be accessed using cglobal. For example:

my $var := cglobal('''errno'int32)

This code binds to $var a new Proxy object that redirects all its accesses to the integer variable named "errno" as exported by the library.

C++ support§

NativeCall offers support to use classes and methods from C++ as shown in (and its associated C++ file). Note that at the moment it's not as tested and developed as C support.

Helper functions§

The NativeCall library exports several subroutines to help you work with data from native libraries.

sub nativecast§

sub nativecast($target-type$sourceis export(:DEFAULT)

This will cast the Pointer $source to an object of $target-type. The source pointer will typically have been obtained from a call to a native subroutine that returns a pointer or as a member of a struct, this may be specified as void * in the C library definition for instance, but you may also cast from a pointer to a less specific type to a more specific one.

As a special case, if a Signature is supplied as $target-type then a subroutine will be returned which will call the native function pointed to by $source in the same way as a subroutine declared with the native trait. This is described in Function Pointers.

sub cglobal§

sub cglobal($libname$symbol$target-typeis export is rw

This returns a Proxy object that provides access to the extern named $symbol that is exposed by the specified library. The library can be specified in the same ways that they can be to the native trait.

sub nativesizeof§

sub nativesizeof($objis export(:DEFAULT)

This returns the size in bytes of the supplied object, it can be thought of as being equivalent to sizeof in C. The object can be a builtin native type such as int64 or num64, a CArray or a class with the repr CStruct, CUnion or CPointer.

sub explicitly-manage§

sub explicitly-manage($stris export(:DEFAULT)

This returns a CStr object for the given Str. If the string returned is passed to a NativeCall subroutine, it will not be freed by the runtime's garbage collector.


Some specific examples, and instructions to use examples above in particular platforms.


The PostgreSQL examples in DBIish make use of the NativeCall library and is native to use the native _putenv function call in Windows.


NOTE: Please bear in mind that, under the hood, Debian has substituted MySQL with MariaDB since the Stretch version, so if you want to install MySQL, use MySQL APT repository instead of the default repository.

To use the MySQL example in DBIish, you'll need to install MySQL server locally; on Debian-esque systems it can be installed with something like:

sudo dpkg -i mysql-apt-config_0.8.10-1_all.deb # Don't forget to select 5.6.x
sudo apt-get update
sudo apt-get install mysql-community-server -y
sudo apt-get install libmysqlclient18 -y

Prepare your system along these lines before trying out the examples:

$ mysql -u root -p

Microsoft Windows§

Here is an example of a Windows API call:

use NativeCall;
sub MessageBoxA(int32StrStrint32)
    returns int32
    is native('user32')
    { * }
MessageBoxA(0"We have NativeCall""ohai"64);

Short tutorial on calling a C function§

This is an example for calling a standard function and using the returned information in a Raku program.

getaddrinfo is a POSIX standard function for obtaining network information about a network node, e.g., It is an interesting function to look at because it illustrates a number of the elements of NativeCall.

The Linux manual provides the following information about the C callable function:

int getaddrinfo(const char *node, const char *service,
       const struct addrinfo *hints,
       struct addrinfo **res);

The function returns a response code 0 for success and 1 for error. The data are extracted from a linked list of addrinfo elements, with the first element pointed to by res.

From the table of NativeCall types we know that an int is int32. We also know that a char * is one of the forms C for a C Str, which maps simply to Str. But addrinfo is a structure, which means we will need to write our own type class. However, the function declaration is straightforward:

sub getaddrinfoStr $nodeStr $serviceAddrinfo $hintsPointer $res is rw )
    returns int32
    is native
    { * }

Note that $res is to be written by the function, so it must be labeled with the is rw trait. Since the library is standard POSIX, the library name can be the type definition or null.

We now have to handle structure Addrinfo. The Linux Manual provides this information:

struct addrinfo {
               int              ai_flags;
               int              ai_family;
               int              ai_socktype;
               int              ai_protocol;
               socklen_t        ai_addrlen;
               struct sockaddr *ai_addr;
               char            *ai_canonname;
               struct addrinfo *ai_next;

The int, char* parts are straightforward. Some research indicates that socklen_t can be architecture dependent, but is an unsigned integer of at least 32 bits. So socklen_t can be mapped to the uint32 type.

The complication is sockaddr which differs depending on whether ai_socktype is undefined, INET, or INET6 (a standard v4 IP address or a v6 address).

So we create a Raku class to map to the C struct addrinfo; while we're at it, we also create another class for SockAddr which is needed for it.

class SockAddr is repr('CStruct'{
    has int32    $.sa_family;
    has Str      $.sa_data;
class Addrinfo is repr('CStruct'{
    has int32     $.ai_flags;
    has int32     $.ai_family;
    has int32     $.ai_socktype;
    has int32     $.ai_protocol;
    has int32     $.ai_addrlen;
    has SockAddr  $.ai_addr       is rw;
    has Str       $.ai_cannonname is rw;
    has Addrinfo  $.ai_next       is rw;

The is rw on the last three attributes reflects that these were defined in C to be pointers.

The important thing here for mapping to a C Struct is the structure of the state part of the class, that is the attributes. However, a class can have methods and NativeCall does not 'touch' them for mapping to C. This means that we can add extra methods to the class to unpack the attributes in a more readable manner, e.g.,

method flags {
    do for AddrInfo-Flags.enums { .key if $!ai_flags +& .value }

By defining an appropriate enum, flags will return a string of keys rather than a bit packed integer.

The most useful information in the sockaddr structure is the address of node, which depends on the family of the Socket. So we can add method address to the Raku class that interprets the address depending on the family.

In order to get a human readable IP address, there is the C function inet_ntop which returns a char * given a buffer with the addrinfo.

Putting all these together, leads to the following program:

#!/usr/bin/env raku 
use v6;
use NativeCall;
constant \INET_ADDRSTRLEN = 16;
constant \INET6_ADDRSTRLEN = 46;
enum AddrInfo-Family (
    AF_UNSPEC                   => 0;
    AF_INET                     => 2;
    AF_INET6                    => 10;
enum AddrInfo-Socktype (
    SOCK_STREAM                 => 1;
    SOCK_DGRAM                  => 2;
    SOCK_RAW                    => 3;
    SOCK_RDM                    => 4;
    SOCK_SEQPACKET              => 5;
    SOCK_DCCP                   => 6;
    SOCK_PACKET                 => 10;
enum AddrInfo-Flags (
    AI_PASSIVE                  => 0x0001;
    AI_CANONNAME                => 0x0002;
    AI_NUMERICHOST              => 0x0004;
    AI_V4MAPPED                 => 0x0008;
    AI_ALL                      => 0x0010;
    AI_ADDRCONFIG               => 0x0020;
    AI_IDN                      => 0x0040;
    AI_CANONIDN                 => 0x0080;
    AI_IDN_ALLOW_UNASSIGNED     => 0x0100;
    AI_IDN_USE_STD3_ASCII_RULES => 0x0200;
    AI_NUMERICSERV              => 0x0400;
sub inet_ntop(int32PointerBlobint32 --> Str)
    is native {}
class SockAddr is repr('CStruct'{
    has uint16 $.sa_family;
class SockAddr-in is repr('CStruct'{
    has int16 $.sin_family;
    has uint16 $.sin_port;
    has uint32 $.sin_addr;
    method address {
        my $buf = buf8.allocate(INET_ADDRSTRLEN);
class SockAddr-in6 is repr('CStruct'{
    has uint16 $.sin6_family;
    has uint16 $.sin6_port;
    has uint32 $.sin6_flowinfo;
    has uint64 $.sin6_addr0;
    has uint64 $.sin6_addr1;
    has uint32 $.sin6_scope_id;
    method address {
        my $buf = buf8.allocate(INET6_ADDRSTRLEN);
class Addrinfo is repr('CStruct'{
    has int32 $.ai_flags;
    has int32 $.ai_family;
    has int32 $.ai_socktype;
    has int32 $.ai_protocol;
    has uint32 $.ai_addrNativeCalllen;
    has SockAddr $.ai_addr is rw;
    has Str $.ai_cannonname is rw;
    has Addrinfo $.ai_next is rw;
    method flags {
        do for AddrInfo-Flags.enums { .key if $!ai_flags +& .value }
    method family {
    method socktype {
    method address {
        given $.family {
            when AF_INET {
            when AF_INET6 {
sub getaddrinfo(Str $nodeStr $serviceAddrinfo $hints,
                Pointer $res is rw --> int32)
    is native {};
sub freeaddrinfo(Pointer)
    is native {}
sub MAIN() {
    my Addrinfo $hint .= new(:ai_flags(AI_CANONNAME));
    my Pointer $res .= new;
    my $rv = getaddrinfo(""Str$hint$res);
    say "return val: $rv";
    if ( ! $rv ) {
        my $addr = nativecast(Addrinfo$res);
        while $addr {
            with $addr {
                say "Name: "$_ with .ai_cannonname;
                say .family' '.socktype;
                say .address;
                $addr = .ai_next;

This produces the following output:

return val: 0

Platform Specific Notes§

MacOS - DYLD_LIBRARY_PATH is ignored§

On MacOSX El Capitan and later the System Integrity Protection, short SIP, prevents protected processes from passing through several environment variables, among them DYLD_LIBRARY_PATH. The env program, often used in shebang lines, is one of those programs. This means that whenever env is involved in calling a program the DYLD_LIBRARY_PATH variable will be cleared. To work around this effect one has to either make sure no protected process is involved (this can be difficult) or disable SIP.

This is usually not a problem when using popular installation methods such as Homebrew or MacPorts, tends to be more problematic when installing into non standard locations such as ones home directory and most definitely problematic when explicitly utilizing the DYLD_LIBRARY_PATH variable.

See Apples documentation on SIP for some more information. See brian d foy's blog post on the topic for a more detailed explanation.