cURL Error 26: Failed to open/read local data from file/application

Last night I started working on Lilly’s 365 and very quickly ran into a few problems. Most were simple quirks of site5 fixed by getting the permissions right. The thing that kept bugging me was Phlickr, and more specifically its use of cURL.

Phlickr is an open source PHP5 based API kit used to access the Flickr API. It uses the REST method which requires that some actions are POSTs. The cURL functions in PHP can happily handle this but for some reason they were failing every time… “Failed to open/read local data from file/application” (Error 26). As soon as I disabled the CURLOPT_POST (making a GET request) cURL made no errors, though the Flickr API didn’t like it.

After much searching later I found the solution was very simple… If you’re not submitting any post fields then set CURLOPT_POSTFIELDS to blank, like this…

$ch = curl_init($url);
// make sure we submit this as a post
curl_setopt($ch, CURLOPT_POST, true);
if (isset($postParams)) {
    curl_setopt($ch, CURLOPT_POSTFIELDS, $postParams);
else {
    curl_setopt($ch, CURLOPT_POSTFIELDS, '');

I can see that this makes sense; a POST is used for submitting data to a server so you need to submit something, even if it’s blank. It would be nice if the error message was a bit more useful or better documented.