I know drupal_realpath is depreciated but as far as I can tell I cannot avoid using it.

I have a little module that will unzip a file and search the contents of the unzipped file and create content with the images it finds. In order to search the unzipped directory tree I need to rely on standard php methods will not work with paths like 'public://..." so I need to use drupal_realpath to massage my paths into something drupal can handle.

When I actually create the image file I do not want to use the drupal realpath because this would obviously be problematic if I migrated to a different server.

Is there a way I can turn the realpath which will look something like this:


back into something like:


If not is there some way I can search a directory structure without using drupal_realpath?

EDIT: So it seems that my problem may really only be with certain PHP lirbaries for example simpleXML.

$shape_xml = 'public://Arcade Projects/ender2012/AgentCubes/Open Arcade/Moonsweeper/version8/Moonsweeper/agents/Tutorial/shapes/Tutorial/shape.xml';

watchdog("file exists normal",file_exists($shape_xml));
watchdog("file exists real path",file_exists(drupal_realpath($shape_xml)));

In the above example, both watchdogs print 1, so it seems that file_exists works fine with the drupal path or the realpath.

But, if I call simplexml_load_file with the drupal_realpath like this:

$xml = simplexml_load_file(drupal_realpath($shape_xml));

everything works fine.

But If I call it like this:

$xml = simplexml_load_file($shape_xml);

I get the following error:

Notice: Trying to get property of non-object in harvest_icons() (line 775 of /Applications/MAMP/htdocs/drupal/sites/all/modules/custom/unzip/unzip.module).
  • It seems your problem is not converting from /Applications/MAMP/htdocs/drupal/sites/default/files/my_file.png to public://my_file.png, but vice versa. /Applications/MAMP/htdocs/drupal/sites/default/files/my_file.png is understood from all the functions handling files, while public://my_file.png is understood from a restricted number of functions.
    – apaderno
    Jun 18, 2012 at 22:22
  • @kiamlaluno: correct, I can get "/Applications/MAMP/htdocs/drupal/sites/default/files/my_file.png" from drupal_realpath but I have no way to get back to "public://my_file.png", sorry if this was not clear in my question.
    – Mike2012
    Jun 18, 2012 at 22:28

3 Answers 3


It's not pretty but this will reverse engineer such a path quite reliably:

$old_path = '/Applications/MAMP/htdocs/drupal/sites/default/files/my_file.png';

$doc_root = $_SERVER['DOCUMENT_ROOT'] . '/';

$public_file_path = variable_get('file_public_path', 'sites/default/files') . '/';

$replace = array($doc_root, $public_file_path);

$new_path = 'public://' . str_replace($replace, '', $old_path);
  • Okay thanks a lot Clive I'll try out your code. That is pretty wicked and seeing code like that makes me think I am doing this all wrong? Is there any other way that wouldn't use the drupal_realpath? Or am I just doing something far outside of the normal drupal use case?
    – Mike2012
    Jun 18, 2012 at 22:47
  • It's tricky to say without seeing the whole code; am I understanding it right that you need to create a file, and that you're finding the need to use an absolute path to do so? If so, what function are you using to create the file? As @Berdir says, stream wrappers are a PHP feature and all file manipulation functions that I can think of should work fine with them
    – Clive
    Jun 18, 2012 at 22:52
  • 1
    @Mike2012 This is the code to convert an absolute local path to a path starting with public://. The problem I see is that normally there isn't any need to make such conversion, as Drupal is able to handle absolute local paths.
    – apaderno
    Jun 18, 2012 at 22:57
  • Yep, what @kiamlaluno said. The above code will work, but it's nasty and I can't think of a reason why you'd need to use it
    – Clive
    Jun 18, 2012 at 23:01
  • @clive I'm not actually creating a file. My module works with a .zip file that has been unzipped and contains nested directories. Inside some of these directories there are .xml file and .png files. I need to create content types that contain fields that will be populated by the xml and png files and I also will need to pull the title of the node I am creating out of the xml file and I am using simpleXMl to parse out attributes from the xml file.
    – Mike2012
    Jun 18, 2012 at 23:06

Stream wrappers are a PHP feature. You can use a path like public:// with normal PHP functions like fopen().

  • Thanks you for your response, it seems that what you said is true for normal PHP functions like fopen and file_exists, but what can be done in other cases like the one mentioned in my edit?
    – Mike2012
    Jun 18, 2012 at 22:19
  • 1
    @Mike2012 Since you know the path is a stream wrapper path you can just grab the code out of drupal_realpath() and use that: if ($wrapper = file_stream_wrapper_get_instance_by_uri($uri)) { return $wrapper->realpath(); }
    – Clive
    Jun 18, 2012 at 22:26
  • @Clive sorry I'm a bit confused by this. How would the code from drupal_realpath help convert it back into the "public://" formatted path?
    – Mike2012
    Jun 18, 2012 at 22:39
  • @Mike2012 Think I'm just getting confused too, I've had a stab at an answer let me know how it works out
    – Clive
    Jun 18, 2012 at 22:43

Here's my code

$purl= drupal_realpath('public://');
$filepath = file_build_uri(str_replace($purl, '', drupal_realpath($image_relative_path . '/' . $file['filename'])));

where $image_relative_path is something like sites/default/files/mydirectory

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