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maandag 7 juli 2014

Use the tools Luke! PHPStorm's conditional breakpoints.

Debugging PHP can be hell because of it's hilarious variable-variables that seem to be very attractive to programmers who want to prevent repeating themselves by creating template-code and using said variable-variables instead of the regular names.

Regular debugging by printing rude words at lines of code that seem important just yields endless lists because the routine is repeated over and over and over, doing the same task dozens of times, evaporating the rainforest to save the programmer a few keystrokes.

PHPStorm to the rescue!

Every PHP developer knows about xDebug (if you don't: google it NOW, and don't come back until you know what it is and have decided to use it from now on) but regular breakpoints are not much more useful than the print statements, because your script just keeps stopping at the same breakpoint over and over.
In PHPStorm you can modify the breakpoint to observe the current context. You can tell PHPStorm/xDebug to only break at a particular breakpoint if a certain variable in the context meets a requirement. For example; you can make one of those idiotic variable-variable routines break only when the offending variable variable contains a particular value. Or you can disable the breakpoint inside a loop when the loop has iterated more than two times.

Even more interesting; you can make the breaking of a breakpoint dependant on whether another breakpoint has been visited yet. This means that you can put a breakpoint in a dispatcher and only make it break when it is called after some variable-variable-fart has executed one particular variable.

These two simple features mean that you can really make your script stop where you need it to, and you don't have to press F7 a million times, before accidently pressing F8 and skipping the one bit you actually wanted to see.