PHP Debugging & FileMaker Custom Functions Do Exist

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May 25, 2011

I have just read Anders Monsen’s post A Simple Debug Function for PHP at the Mightydata’s blog. My first thought was this is similar to what I have been doing since I learned PHP a few years ago. But then I discovered something very bad about myself…

The lack of debugging abilities in server-side web scripts of any kind (including PHP) has always been a nightmare for web app developers. It reminds me how I was debugging Assembly language routines on Apple //e about 20 years ago…

It seems that most PHP developers use the same old techniques to debug their PHP code. This link is a nice proof of that:

http://php.net/manual/en/debugger.php

But when I consider for how long PHP has been available and how smart people are out there, I conclude there must be a better way to debug server-side PHP. So I type “php debugger” in the Google search field, hit Enter, and explore…

Hey, try it our yourself to know what I mean. Click here!

Sometimes we cause headaches to ourselves only because we’re too lazy or too doubtful to simply try to search for an existing solution to our problem.¬†Well, I write “sometimes” but mean “often”.

Another example is how we write the same custom functions again and again. There are at least two good web repositories of custom functions for FileMaker Pro Advanced (yes, you need the Advanced version to be able to define custom function but this is a single sufficient reason to get Advanced). The two websites are BrianDunning.com and fmfunctions.com. Brian Dunning even has a nice Dashboard Widget (download here) for Mac users.

Google’s TV campaign says that life is searching…

So let’s go and live…

and let’s stop wasting our time by reinventing the wheel.

{ 4 comments… read them below or add one }

Matt Petrowsky May 27, 2011 at 1:55 pm

There is a debugger for PHP. It’s called Xdebug. It’s an extension you need to compile with PHP and it may come already compiled if you’re using MAMP or XAMP. It will allow you to do any type of normal debugging using breakpoints, etc.

You’ll want to use an IDE like Komodo or NetBeans or even Eclipse in order to use it, but it does exists and works just like the FileMaker debugger.

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HOnza May 29, 2011 at 11:12 pm

Yes, that’s #4 in the Google’s search results for “php debugger” .
There are other options available as well. What’s alarming is how much time we can easily waste by being too lazy to look for tools like that.
Matt, your you’re definitely not in that category… ;-)

Andries Heylen July 14, 2011 at 2:17 am

It depends on your age I guess. I think you two became good developers because you reinvented the wheel several times…

I like reinventing the wheel. Really… it makes me appreciate how much work it takes to develop a custom function (or a PHP debugger :) ) And more, I learn from it… a lot… But just to be clear: that is when I have time.

So indeed those two resources for custom functions should be indeed a bookmark in each developers browser :)

But in my opinion there is nothing wrong with reinventing the wheel from time to time.

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HOnza July 14, 2011 at 2:32 pm

Yeah, I like it as well.
And I also like it for another reason. Things we invent these days tend to be so complicated that reinventing something as simple as the wheel is refreshing ;-)

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