Dumping variables to stdout

  • var_dump ($var) dumps the variable type and value to stdout.
  • print_r ($var) prints the variable value in human-readable form to stdout.
  • get_defined_vars() gets all the defined variables including built-ins and custom variables (print_r to view them).
  • debug_zval_dump ($var) dumps the variable with its reference counts. This is useful when there are multiple paths to update a single reference.
  • debug_print_backtrace() prints a backtrace that shows the current function call-chain.
  • debug_backtrace() gets the backtrace. You can print_r, log it to a file, or send it to a logging endpoint asynchronously.


$myVar = "hello world!";


$allVars = get_defined_vars();

function sayHello($hello) {
echo $hello;


Test PHP online

Switching error reporting level

PHP has a few ways to configure error reporting. You can use the php.ini file, if you have access to it. Otherwise, you might use the htaccess configuration. If you can’t use configuration files, you have the option of changing the values via a script.

  • error_reporting sets the level of logging. E_NOTICE is useful during development since it will tell you about defects such as unassigned variables.
  • display_errors tells PHP if and where to display error messages.
  • display_startup_errors should only be used when debugging.
  • log_errors and error_log work together to send errors to a log file. Do this in production rather than displaying them to end users.

PHP debugging tools

You can debug PHP using one of many debugging tools to attach a debugger client. PhpStorm works with debug utilities like Xdebug and ZendDebugger.

Being a polyglot, I need an IDE that supports multiple languages, so I’m opting for VS Code these days.

1) Install XDebug

I highly recommend you make a simple test.php file, put a phpinfo(); statement in there, then copy the output and paste it into the XDebug installation wizard. It will analyze it and give you tailored installation instructions for your environment.

2) Configure PHP to use XDebug

Configure PHP to use XDebug by adding zend_extension=path/to/xdebug to your php.ini. The path of your php.ini is shown in your phpinfo() output under “Loaded Configuration File”.

3) Enable remote debugging in your php.ini:

; allow remote debugging
xdebug.remote_enable = 1
xdebug.remote_autostart = 1

4) If you are doing web development, don’t forget to restart your webserver to reload the settings.

5) Verify your installation by checking your phpinfo() output for an XDebug section.

VScode Error

1) setting php.validate.executablePath

Go to File> Preferences > Settings …

输入框中输入php,修改 PHP › Validate: Executable PathEidit in settings.json

"php.validate.executablePath": "C:\\xampp\\php\\php.exe",
"php.executablePath": "C:\\php7.1\\php.exe"


A Detailed Guide to PHP Debugging

  1. 1. Dumping variables to stdout
  2. 2. Switching error reporting level
  3. 3. PHP debugging tools
  4. 4. VScode Error