Debugging a PHP application if often more difficult than debugging an application in some other programming language. There are two reasons for this.
Second, a PHP Web application does not have a continuous, linear flow of execution. Its execution is a series of HTTP request/response transactions. Each transaction is independent of all other preceding and following request/response pairs. While it is true that, from a user’s perspective, the application gives the impression of a monolithic unity, that effect is maintained by artifacts such as cookies or hidden fields. The presence of such artifacts does not inform the debugger of a transaction-spanning Web session.
The upshot is that, if you start a debug session on file X.PHP, when X.PHP sends its HTTP response, that PHP code is completed. A subsequent HTTP request in the same user session might trigger the execution of file Y.PHP. Consequently, a single user session effectively passes through multiple debug sessions.
Developers can deal with the “multiple languages” issue using a collection of debug tools, each outfitted for its particular domain. A PHP debugger “extension” handles debugging PHP code. One of the most popular extensions is the Xdebug, a free PHP debugger, which is installed as a dynamic link library on Windows or as a shared library on Linux. Xdebug can be used with virtually any Web server, because it is attached to the PHP runtime and not the Web server.
Xdebug provides all the basic debugging capabilities: breakpoints, stack traces, variable watches, and so on. It also makes special functions available to the executing program. For example, you can display the amount of memory a PHP application is using.
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