Sunday, 2 January 2011

Debugging php in Netbeans on Ubuntu

I used to be an avid fan of Eclipse. But setting it up to debug php drove me to try Netbeans yet again. And no it is not much easier in that IDE either. What they don't seem to understand is that all the programmer really wants is to do is install the package and it just works. So here are the problems I had getting the debugger to work and how I overcame them.

  1. First, you have to install the xdebug package and apache2 with php etc. This is straightforward using Synaptic or apt-get etc.
  2. Next you can just run a php application you create in Netbeans and it will tell you to add certain lines to your php.ini file. Cool. Do that.
  3. Third, if it still does not work, and inexplicably gives the same error, the reason is probably that you haven't specified the script to debug. Right click on the project and check that the "index file" in the "run configuration" section is set to your root script.
  4. Fourth, if you created a source folder in your project, remember to set the "source folder" in the project properties under "Sources". And no, of course you can't edit it directly in the GUI, Silly, but you can in the "project.properties" file in the nbproject folder (look under the "files" tab on the left of the IDE). Now that's what I call a useful feature.
  5. If it debugs but the line-numbers are wrong, remember that the executing script is the one copied to the server. And the files visible in your debugger are the ones in the project. Cool. To keep them in sync click on "sources" in the project properties and select "Copy sources from Sources folder to another location". And remember to specify the folder on your web server. Of course you'll have to set the creator of that folder to your user name not www-data (if you're using Apache). But you knew that.
  6. So it all works but you don't see any local variables, just global ones and the current object? The problem is with xdebug. You need to upgrade it manually. There are some instructions here.

So now it all should work. Thank heaven for Linux or geeks would be extinct.

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