IntelliJ IDEA 2023.1 Help

Debug a PHP HTTP request

Besides debugging the entire application, you can debug separate HTTP Requests. This is helpful when you are actually interested in a specific page that is accessed in a number of steps, but for this or that reason you cannot specify this page as the start page for debugging, for example, because you need to "come" to this page with certain data.

To debug PHP HTTP requests in IntelliJ IDEA, you can use the following methods:

Install the PHP plugin

This functionality relies on the PHP plugin, which you need to install and enable.

  1. Press Ctrl+Alt+S to open the IDE settings and select Plugins.

  2. Open the Marketplace tab, find the PHP plugin, and click Install (restart the IDE if prompted).

Prepare the debugging engine

  • Before you start debugging, make sure that you have a debugging engine installed and configured properly. IntelliJ IDEA supports debugging with two most popular tools: Xdebug and Zend Debugger. These tools cannot be used simultaneously because they block each other. To avoid this problem, you need to update the corresponding sections in the php.ini file as described in Configure Xdebug and Configure Zend Debugger.

    Open the active php.ini file in the editor:

    1. In the Settings dialog (Ctrl+Alt+S), click PHP under Languages & Frameworks.

    2. On the PHP reference page that opens, click the Browse button next to the CLI Interpreter field.

    3. In the CLI Interpreters dialog that opens, the Configuration file read-only field shows the path to the active php.ini file. Click Open in Editor.

Set the breakpoints

Breakpoints are source code markers used to trigger actions during a debugging session. Typically, the purpose behind setting a breakpoint is to suspend program execution to allow you to examine program data. However, IntelliJ IDEA can use breakpoints as triggers for a variety of different actions. Breakpoints can be set at any time during the debugging process. Your breakpoints don't affect your source files directly, but the breakpoints and their settings are saved with your IntelliJ IDEA project so you can reuse them across debugging sessions.

  1. Place the caret at the desired line of the source code.

    Breakpoints can be set in the PHP context inside php, html, and files of other types. Line breakpoints can be set only on executable lines, but not on comments, declarations, or empty lines.

  2. Do one of the following:

    • Click the gutter area at a line where you want to toggle a breakpoint.

    • From the main menu, choose Run | Toggle Line Breakpoint.

    • Press Ctrl+F8.

Debug the request via the HTTP client in the code editor

Using the built-in HTTP Client, you can compose, execute, and debug HTTP requests directly from the IntelliJ IDEA code editor.

  1. Open an existing HTTP request file, or create a new one: in the File menu, point to New, and then click HTTP Request.

  2. Compose an HTTP request for the query that you need to debug.

  3. Position the caret at the request and press Alt+Enter or click The Run button in the editor gutter. From the popup menu, select PHP Debug <host>.

    PHP Debug intention action with  in an HTTP request file

    If you have environments defined, select PHP Debug with ... and choose the environment in the popup menu. The selected environment will be used as the default one when executing or debugging the request later.

    PHP Debug intention action with environment in an HTTP request file

    IntelliJ IDEA will automatically add the XDEBUG_SESSION cookie to the request, execute it, and stop at the specified breakpoint.

When a request is executed, IntelliJ IDEA automatically creates a dedicated temporary HTTP Request run/debug configuration for it. You can save it as a permanent run/debug configuration if necessary.

Create a debug configuration of the type PHP HTTP Request

IntelliJ IDEA comprises the settings specified in this configuration into a PHP HTTP request. Note that using HTTP Client in editor for debugging HTTP requests is a more convenient and recommended approach.

  1. Open the Run/Debug Configuration dialog by doing one of the following:

    • From the main menu, choose Run | Edit Configurations.

    • Press Alt+Shift+F10, then press 0 to display the Edit Configuration dialog or select the configuration from the popup and press F4.

  2. Click the Add button on the toolbar or press Insert. From the list, select the PHP HTTP Request configuration type. The PHP HTTP Request dialog opens.

  3. Specify the configuration name.

  4. In the Server list, specify the debug server configuration to interact with the Web server where the application is executed. Select one of the existing configurations or click Browse the Browse button and define a debug server configuration in the Servers dialog that opens as described in Create a PHP debug server configuration.

  5. In the URL field, complete the host element of the request to debug. Type the path relative to the host specified in the debug server configuration. As you type, IntelliJ IDEA composes the URL address on-the-fly and displays it below the field.

  6. Specify whether you want to bring any data to the target page. From the Request method list, choose the relevant request type:

    • To access the page without bringing any data, choose GET.

    • To access the page with some data saved in variables, choose POST and type the relevant variables in the Request body field.

      By default, the Project Encoding is used in requests' encoding if it is not specified explicitly, for example:

      header('Content-type: text/html;charset=utf-8');

      The Project Encoding is specified on the File Encodings page of the Settings dialog (Ctrl+Alt+S).

  7. In the Query field, type the query string of the request. This string will be appended to the request after the ? symbol.

  8. Click OK, when ready.

Initiate a debugging session and examine the suspended program

  1. To start debugging, click the Debug button the Debug button on the toolbar.

  2. As soon as the debugger suspends on reaching the first breakpoint, examine the application by analyzing frames. A frame corresponds to an active method or function call and stores the local variables of the called method or function, the arguments to it, and the code context that enables expression evaluation. All currently active frames are displayed on the Frames pane of the Debug tool window, where you can switch between them and analyze the information stored therein in the Variables and Watches panes. For more details, see the section Examine suspended program.

  3. Continue running the program and examine its frames as soon as it is suspended again.

    • To control the program execution manually, step through the code using the commands under the Run menu or toolbar buttons: Step Into F7, Step Out Shift+F8, Step Over F8, and others. For more details, see Step through the program.

    • To have the program run automatically up to the next breakpoint, resume the session by choosing Run | Debugging Actions | Resume Program or pressing F9.

Last modified: 21 April 2023