PHP Error Handling Logging Debugging Information - Supercoders | Web Development and Design | Tutorial for Java, PHP, HTML, Javascript PHP Error Handling Logging Debugging Information - Supercoders | Web Development and Design | Tutorial for Java, PHP, HTML, Javascript


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Tuesday, July 2, 2019

PHP Error Handling Logging Debugging Information

PHP Error Handling

Logging Debugging Information


You want to make debugging easier by adding statements to print out variables. But you want to be able to switch back and forth easily between production and debug modes.


Put a function that conditionally prints out messages based on a defined constant in a page included using the auto_prepend_file configuration setting. Save the following code to debug.php:

       // turn debugging on

       // generic debugging function
       function pc_debug($message) {
            if (defined('DEBUG') && DEBUG) {

Set the auto_prepend_file directive in php.ini or your site .htaccess file:


Now call pc_debug() from your code to print out debugging information:

       $sql = 'SELECT color, shape, smell FROM vegetables';
       pc_debug("[sql: $sql]"); // only printed if DEBUG is true
       $r = mysql_query($sql);


Debugging code is a necessary side effect of writing code. There are a variety of techniques to help you quickly locate and squash your bugs. Many of these involve including scaffolding that helps ensure the correctness of your code. The more complicated the program, the more scaffolding needed.

Fred Brooks, in The Mythical Man-Month (Addison-Wesley), guesses that there’s “half as much code in scaffolding as there is in product.” Proper planning ahead of time allows you to integrate the scaffolding into your programming logic in a clean and efficient fashion. This requires you to think out beforehand what you want to measure and record and how you plan on sorting through the data gathered by your scaffolding.

One technique for sifting through the information is to assign different priority levels to different types of debugging comments. Then the debug function prints information only if it’s higher than the current priority level:


       function pc_debug($message, $level = 0) {
            if (defined('DEBUG') && ($level > DEBUG)) {

       $sql = 'SELECT color, shape, smell FROM vegetables';
       pc_debug("[sql: $sql]", 1); // not printed, since 1 < 2
       pc_debug("[sql: $sql]", 3); // printed, since 3 > 2

Another technique is to write wrapper functions to include additional information to help with performance tuning, such as the time it takes to execute a database query:

       function db_query($sql) {
            if (defined('DEBUG') && DEBUG) {
                   // start timing the query if DEBUG is on
                   $DEBUG_STRING = "[sql: $sql]<br>\n";
                   $starttime = microtime(true);

            $r = mysql_query($sql);
            if (! $r) {
                   $error = mysql_error();
                   error_log('[DB: query @'.$_SERVER['REQUEST_URI']."][$sql]: $error");
            } elseif (defined(DEBUG) && DEBUG) {
                    // the query didn't fail and DEBUG is turned on, so finish timing it
                    $endtime = microtime(true);
                    $elapsedtime = $endtime - $starttime;
                    $DEBUG_STRING .= "[time: $elapsedtime]<br>\n";

            return $r;

Here, instead of just printing out the SQL to the error log, you also record the number of seconds it takes MySQL to perform the request. This lets you see if certain queries are taking too long. More discussion of timing code execution.

Finally, you may also want to integrate PEAR’s Log package, which provides an efficient framework for an abstracted logging system. PEAR Log predefines eight log levels: PEAR_LOG_EMERG, PEAR_LOG_ALERT, PEAR_LOG_CRIT, PEAR_LOG_ERR, PEAR_LOG_WARNING, PEAR_LOG_NOTICE, PEAR_LOG_INFO, and PEAR_LOG_DEBUG. The Log package provides a robust assortment of options for customizing error logging, including logging errors to SQLite and/or to a pop-up browser window.

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