I thought I’d written up an entry on Xdebug for PHP a while ago,  but apparently not. (Or, if I did, it’s not coming up when I search for “xdebug” for some reason.) Anyway, Xdebug is a debugging tool for PHP. It’s definitely worth enabling, if you’re doing anything with PHP that’s in any way non-trivial.

It’s a bit hard to figure out the best way to get started with it under Windows. It turns out to be pretty easy, though, given a few pointers. First,  go to the wizard page, and paste in the contents of a phpinfo() call, run on the machine you’re installing to. This will then tell you exactly which file to download, where to put it, and what to add to your php.ini. Much easier than trying to figure that stuff out yourself!

A few other pointers:
– Depending on how you download & copy the DLL over, you may need to unblock it. (Blocked files really annoy me, by the way. I don’t know whose idea that “feature” was, but it was not a *good* idea. See here for some ways to unblock multiple files easily.)
– Xdebug can add color to your var_dump() calls. Add “set html_errors = On” to your php.ini to enable this. I’ve found it to be very helpful when looking at a complex object. (Of course, there’s always krumo for that too.)
– To get debugging working under Komodo IDE, take a look at this document. One thing that was confusing to me was that debugging locally is still considered “remote debugging”.

Also, on a related note, I’m not sure I ever mentioned that, after looking at a few options, I settled on Komodo as my PHP IDE of choice. It’s reasonably fast and easy to use, and the debugger works pretty well. There are a few things about it that I’m not too fond of, but overall, it’s really good.

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