PixelfearWeb Development by Jason Varga

Making Xdebug, Laravel Valet, PHPStorm, and Composer play nice

Laravel, Tips, Workflow

There are a handful of resources out there that explain how to set up Xdebug in PHPStorm, and maybe a couple on how to set it up in Valet. That’s great and all, but I’m sure you’ve also seen this:

You are running composer with xdebug enabled. This has a major impact on runtime performance. See https://getcomposer.org/xdebug

How annoying. But if you disable Xdebug, you can’t use it, obviously. Here’s how you can have the best of both worlds.

Disable Xdebug for the CLI

PHPStorm seems to still need Xdebug enabled when runs in Apache. Version 2016.2 says you can load it on demand, but I couldn’t figure that out. Meh, onwards.

If you’re using a relatively stock configuration, your php will be loading /usr/local/etc/php/7.0/php.ini.

Create a CLI version of php.ini

PHP will load the appropriate ini file suffixed with the SAPI, if it exists. Great, just make a copy of it to reference cli.

cp /usr/local/etc/php/7.0/php.ini /usr/local/etc/php/7.0/php-cli.ini

Ensure it only loads Xdebug from Apache

In addition to loading php.ini, it also loads all ini files in /usr/local/etc/php/7.0/conf.d/. There’s an ext-xdebug.ini in there which is responsible for loading Xdebug. Since we only Xdebug in Apache, copy the contents of that and paste it at the bottom of your /usr/local/etc/php/7.0/php.ini file (that’s the one Apache will use).

It should look something like this:


Then delete ext-xdebug.ini, or rename it to ext-xdebug.ini.bak if you’re a paranoid hoarder.

Enable Xdebug for Valet

Back in php.ini, add these right where you left off above:


By default the Xdebug port is 9000, but that’s what Valet runs on, so you’ll need something different.
How does 9001 sound? Perfect.

Restart PHP

At this point you’re done messing with PHP settings. To make them take effect, its simple:

valet restart

Confirm it worked

You can confirm it worked by running php -v and not see the Xdebug line at the end here:

$ php -v
PHP 7.0.7 (cli) (built: May 27 2016 11:13:44) ( NTS )
Copyright (c) 1997-2016 The PHP Group
Zend Engine v3.0.0, Copyright (c) 1998-2016 Zend Technologies
    with Xdebug v2.4.0, Copyright (c) 2002-2016, by Derick Rethans

For Apache, the easiest way is to drop a phpinfo(); at the top of an index.php in whatever project you can switch to the fastest. Cmd+f and search for xdebug. If you get any results, hooray, it’s still enabled.

Lastly, run any composer command (composer about will do), and now you shouldn’t see the xdebug message.

Configure PHPStorm

  • Open Preferences > Languages & Frameworks > PHP.
  • Next to the Interpreter dropdown, hit the ... button, and add a new one in the dialog that appears.
  • The executable should be /usr/local/bin/php.
  • Hit the little refresh icon and all going well, it should say Debugger: Xdebug.
  • Apply/OK out of there.

Obligatory screenshot of what you just read #1
  • Open to Preferences > Languages & Frameworks > PHP > Debug.
  • In the Xdebug section, Debug Port should be 9001 (like you set in php.ini earlier)
  • Uncheck both Force break ... checkboxes.

Obligatory screenshot #2

If you don’t uncheck those checkboxes, the debugger will stop on Valet’s server.php every time.

Set up the app for debugging

At this point, Xdebug should be good to go. However if you haven’t Xdebugged before, you might be scratching your head about how to use the thing. I was too.

First, create a server that PHPStorm will use to whip open a debug session in the browser:

  • Open Preferences > Languages & Frameworks > PHP > Servers
  • Add a new server. Name it whatever. The name of your project is an idea.
  • The host should be your dev domain, like: myproject.dev
  • Port should be 80

Server settings

Next, create a debug configuration:

  • Open Run > Edit Configurations...
  • Add a new PHP Web Application and name it whatever.
  • In the Server dropdown, select the server you just created.
  • The start URL should be whatever URL you want to run the debugger on.

Debug configuration

Rinse and repeat for every URL you want to debug on. Or, just keep editing that configuration every time.

Run the debugger

Finally! What you can do now is go to Run > Debug... and choose the configuration you just created.

Or, Run > Debug 'Your Configuration', or Run > Debug 'Your Configuration', or the keyboard shortcut for it.
For me it’s ^D to run the latest debug configuration. Knowing PHPStorm, there’s probably 10 more ways to do it.

Remember to Debug instead of Run. Run will just… run the code.

Also, remember to set at least one breakpoint, or your debugging journey will end quite quickly. Just click in the left gutter of the line you want to break at.


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