int (*pcre_callout)(pcre_callout_block *);

       int (*pcre16_callout)(pcre16_callout_block *);

       PCRE provides a feature called "callout", which is a means of temporar-
       ily passing control to the caller of PCRE  in  the  middle  of  pattern
       matching.  The  caller of PCRE provides an external function by putting
       its entry point in the global variable pcre_callout (pcre16_callout for
       the  16-bit  library).  By  default, this variable contains NULL, which
       disables all calling out.

       Within a regular expression, (?C) indicates the  points  at  which  the
       external  function  is  to  be  called. Different callout points can be
       identified by putting a number less than 256 after the  letter  C.  The
       default  value  is  zero.   For  example,  this pattern has two callout


       If the PCRE_AUTO_CALLOUT option bit is set when a pattern is  compiled,
       PCRE  automatically  inserts callouts, all with number 255, before each
       item in the pattern. For example, if PCRE_AUTO_CALLOUT is used with the


       it is processed as if it were


       Notice  that  there  is a callout before and after each parenthesis and
       alternation bar. Automatic  callouts  can  be  used  for  tracking  the
       progress  of  pattern matching. The pcretest command has an option that
       sets automatic callouts; when it is used, the output indicates how  the
       pattern  is  matched. This is useful information when you are trying to
       optimize the performance of a particular pattern.

       The use of callouts in a pattern makes it ineligible  for  optimization
       by  the  just-in-time  compiler.  Studying  such  a  pattern  with  the
       PCRE_STUDY_JIT_COMPILE option always fails.


       You should be aware that, because of  optimizations  in  the  way  PCRE
       matches  patterns  by  default,  callouts  sometimes do not happen. For
       example, if the pattern is


       PCRE knows that any matching string must contain the letter "d". If the
       subject  string  is "abyz", the lack of "d" means that matching doesn't


       During  matching, when PCRE reaches a callout point, the external func-
       tion defined by pcre_callout or pcre16_callout  is  called  (if  it  is
       set).   This applies to both normal and DFA matching. The only argument
       to the callout function is a pointer to a pcre_callout or  pcre16_call-
       out block.  These structures contains the following fields:

         int           version;
         int           callout_number;
         int          *offset_vector;
         const char   *subject;           (8-bit version)
         PCRE_SPTR16   subject;           (16-bit version)
         int           subject_length;
         int           start_match;
         int           current_position;
         int           capture_top;
         int           capture_last;
         void         *callout_data;
         int           pattern_position;
         int           next_item_length;
         const unsigned char *mark;       (8-bit version)
         const PCRE_UCHAR16  *mark;       (16-bit version)

       The  version  field  is an integer containing the version number of the
       block format. The initial version was 0; the current version is 2.  The
       version  number  will  change  again in future if additional fields are
       added, but the intention is never to remove any of the existing fields.

       The callout_number field contains the number of the  callout,  as  com-
       piled  into  the pattern (that is, the number after ?C for manual call-
       outs, and 255 for automatically generated callouts).

       The offset_vector field is a pointer to the vector of offsets that  was
       passed  by  the  caller  to  the matching function. When pcre_exec() or
       pcre16_exec() is used, the contents  can  be  inspected,  in  order  to
       extract  substrings  that  have been matched so far, in the same way as
       for extracting substrings after a match  has  completed.  For  the  DFA
       matching functions, this field is not useful.

       The subject and subject_length fields contain copies of the values that
       were passed to the matching function.

       The start_match field normally contains the offset within  the  subject
       at  which  the  current  match  attempt started. However, if the escape
       sequence \K has been encountered, this value is changed to reflect  the
       modified  starting  point.  If the pattern is not anchored, the callout
       function may be called several times from the same point in the pattern
       for different starting points in the subject.

       The  current_position  field  contains the offset within the subject of
       the current match pointer.

       passed in the callout_data field of a pcre_extra or  pcre16_extra  data
       structure.  If  no such data was passed, the value of callout_data in a
       callout block is NULL. There is a description of the pcre_extra  struc-
       ture in the pcreapi documentation.

       The  pattern_position  field  is  present from version 1 of the callout
       structure. It contains the offset to the next item to be matched in the
       pattern string.

       The  next_item_length  field  is  present from version 1 of the callout
       structure. It contains the length of the next item to be matched in the
       pattern  string.  When  the callout immediately precedes an alternation
       bar, a closing parenthesis, or the end of the pattern,  the  length  is
       zero.  When  the callout precedes an opening parenthesis, the length is
       that of the entire subpattern.

       The pattern_position and next_item_length fields are intended  to  help
       in  distinguishing between different automatic callouts, which all have
       the same callout number. However, they are set for all callouts.

       The mark field is present from version 2 of the callout  structure.  In
       callouts from pcre_exec() or pcre16_exec() it contains a pointer to the
       zero-terminated name of the most recently passed (*MARK), (*PRUNE),  or
       (*THEN)  item  in the match, or NULL if no such items have been passed.
       Instances of (*PRUNE) or (*THEN) without a name  do  not  obliterate  a
       previous  (*MARK).  In  callouts  from  the DFA matching functions this
       field always contains NULL.


       The external callout function returns an integer to PCRE. If the  value
       is  zero,  matching  proceeds  as  normal. If the value is greater than
       zero, matching fails at the current point, but  the  testing  of  other
       matching possibilities goes ahead, just as if a lookahead assertion had
       failed. If the value is less than zero, the  match  is  abandoned,  the
       matching function returns the negative value.

       Negative   values   should   normally   be   chosen  from  the  set  of
       PCRE_ERROR_xxx values. In particular, PCRE_ERROR_NOMATCH forces a stan-
       dard  "no  match"  failure.   The  error  number  PCRE_ERROR_CALLOUT is
       reserved for use by callout functions; it will never be  used  by  PCRE


       Philip Hazel
       University Computing Service
       Cambridge CB2 3QH, England.


       Last updated: 08 Janurary 2012
       Copyright (c) 1997-2012 University of Cambridge.
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