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How to debug php in Aptana Studio — Part 1

This basic tuto­r­ial explain about how we can debug php scripts using the Aptana Stu­dio IDE. The Aptana Stu­dio IDE is dis­trib­uted by Aptana. It can be down­loaded from Aptana Down­load Page. The IDE is open source and very much help­ful in devel­op­ing and debug­ging php appli­ca­tions. It assumes that php is already installed. In the next tuto­r­ial we will dis­cuss how we can use Aptana to do remote debug­ging for an web app installed on apache.

Once we down­load and install Aptana, we can fol­low the below men­tioned steps to cre­ate a php project and debug it using XDe­bug. To start debug­ging php using Aptana Stu­dio, start the IDE and select a work­space location.

Step 1: To cre­ate a project in Aptana, click on File -> New -> PHP Project as shown in below men­tioned image.

Create PHP Project using Aptana Studio








Step 2: Enter the project name as Test­De­bug­ger or any other name of your choice on the project cre­ation wiz­ard and click on Fin­ish to cre­ate the Project.

Step 3: Cre­ate a new php file for our project Test­De­bug­ger. To cre­ate a php file, right click on the project explorer area and select New -> New From Tem­plate -> PHP -> PHP Template.

Create PHP file Aptana Studio











Step 4: It will dis­play the file cre­ation wiz­ard. Enter the file­name as hello_aptana.php and make sure that the par­ent folder is selected as Test­De­bug­ger. By default the PHP tem­plate file con­sist of pre-written code within the php code tags as shown below:


Step 5: Now let’s remove the default tem­plate code and write code to print hello world 5 times on con­sole using for loop. We are going to debug the for loop using XDebug.

    for( $i = 0 ; $i < 5; $i++ ){
    	echo "Hello Aptana Studio";

Step 6: Now add a debug point to stop the debug­ger. To add a debug point, we can dou­ble click on the space before the line num­ber where we want to add our debug point. It’s also called as adding line break­point. It’s shown in below men­tioned image:

Aptana Studio - Add line breakpoint


Step 7: Now we will con­fig­ure Aptana Stu­dio for PHP exe­cutable and XDe­bug. Go to Win­dows -> Pref­er­ences -> Aptana Stu­dio -> Edi­tors -> PHP -> PHP Inter­preters and click on Add But­ton and fill the form for PHP Inter­preter as shown below.The wiz­ard for PHP inter­preter ask the loca­tion where we have installed PHP for php.exe and php.ini files.  Make sure that you have selected XDe­bug as your default debugger.

Aptana Studio configure php interpreter


Step 8: Click on Fin­ish and than click on ok button.

Step 9: To exe­cute the php file, right click on the hello_aptana.php file and select Run As -> PHP Script. This step will sim­ply exe­cute the php file with­out stop­ping at our line break we have inserted in pre­vi­ous steps. It will print “Hello Aptana Stu­dio” 5 times on console.

Step 10: To debug the php file, right click on the hello_aptana.php file and select Debug As -> PHP Script. If the debug per­spec­tive is not enabled, the Aptana Stu­dio will ask to switch the cur­rent web per­spec­tive to debug per­spec­tive as shown below:

Aptana Studio debug perspective







Now click on yes but­ton. You can see that your debug­ger is stopped at the begin­ning of for loop as shown below:

aptana studio - line breakpoint 2











Step 11: To exe­cute the code line by line, we can press F5 or Step Into. The same is avail­able at the top bar of debug per­spec­tive as shown below. If we keep press­ing F5 it will exe­cute the for loop for each iter­a­tion and print the echo mes­sage one by one on the Con­sole View. This is how we can debug line by line in Aptana Studio.

aptana studio debug step into


aptana studio debug console





Step 12: To view all the vari­ables ini­tial­ized and their value, we can check the Vari­ables view as shown below. If we scroll down, we can see the cur­rent value of $i vari­able of for loop. It will incre­ment for each iter­a­tion of for loop.

aptana studio debug variables






Sim­i­lar to Step Into, we can per­form var­i­ous debug­ging actions. We can press F8 or Resume to skip a par­tic­u­lar line break­point. In this exam­ple, if we press Resume(F8) the next line break is same till for loop gets over and it will pause the exe­cu­tion at same break­point. It will take us to next line break­point or exe­cute and fin­ish our pro­gram if there is no fur­ther breakpoint.

To remove line break­point, we can again dou­ble click on the breakpoint.

To stop the debug­ger, we can press the red but­ton ( Ter­mi­nate or Ctrl + F2).

This is how we can debug a php pro­gram using Aptana Stu­dio and XDe­bug debugger.

Notes: As the­laten­i­te­owl pointed out, our php ini file should enable XDEBUG Exten­sion else the debug­ger won’t work.

The next part remote debug php explains how we can remote debug php scripts installed on Apache Web Server.

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25 Responses

  1. Colin Goldberg says:

    Is there any way to activate/display the “Debug Out­put” tab/view — next to Con­sole, Tasks, and “Browser Out­put”? I used to have this avail­able in Eclipse PDT before I moved over to Aptana. I does not seem to be avail­able, but it is, in my opin­ion, essen­tial to the debug­ging process (for php at least). Browser Out­put does not sat­isfy this need, as it processes any out­put as html and loses valu­able infor­ma­tion. Con­sole has a dif­fer­ent pur­pose — it does not sat­isfy this need either.

    Any sug­ges­tions?

    • Bhagwat Chouhan says:

      In eclipse we have this option for PDT : Win­dow -> Show View -> Other -> PHP Tools -> Debug Output.

      The Aptana Stu­dio 3 do not have this option with the default install.

  2. ben says:


    Does any­one know why step over, step into and step return are disabled?


  3. Sarah says:

    Thanks a lot!! For months I was try­ing to do this.

  4. What about debugging PHP web page? says:

    Thanks, this is a good start. Do you have any guides on how to debug a web appli­ca­tion? Specif­i­cally, PHP 5.x run­ning a codeIgniter frame­work with mySQL, etc.

  5. Michael says:

    Can you elab­o­rate a lit­tle bit fur­ther, on how one goes about debug­ging a PHP Web application?

  6. David Griffiths says:

    Just what I needed. Just the right level of detail. Many thanks.

    Part two on debug­ging a script that is being accessed by a web browser would be useful. 🙂

  7. Thiyagesh says:

    Thankyou. This arti­cle is great and sim­ple to understand!!!!!

  8. Bhagwat Chouhan says:

    Thanks to all for your valu­able feed­back. I will resume writ­ing on tuto­r­ial hori­zon as soon as possible.

  9. Carlos says:


    thanks for tuto­r­ial. Do you know how to com­pletly stop debug process? CTRL F2 is not work­ing for me.
    If I added some break­points on my file, every time I acces that page, the code will stop at break­points. I want to do this only when debug process was start or enabled.

    At this time, I use Skip all break­points / remove all break­points func­tion. There is a way to keep break­points on file?

    • Bhagwat Chouhan says:

      Hi Car­los,

      Instead of stop­ping the debug process, we can run our script with­out debug. This will help us in keep­ing our break­points safe. When we run in nor­mal mode, the script won’t stop and run as usual.

      Though there is no way I found to stop debug in between and pass all the break­points with­out stopping.

  10. caianhua says:

    Thanks very much! I’m look for this two days, this is very help­ful for me.

  11. thelateniteowl says:

    I fol­low all the instruc­tions here, but when I run debug­ger it blows right past the break­points as if I clicked RUN instead. [F5] doesn’t work either. Any ideas ?

    • thelateniteowl says:

      Did some detec­tive work and found that the [XDe­bug] sec­tion of my php.ini file was com­pletely com­mented out (which is how it “shipped”, because I never changed it). So I uncom­mented the entire [XDe­bug] sec­tion (hap­pens to be 10 lines in my instal­la­tion) and all is now well. FYI: I have XAMPP loaded on a Win­dows PC so the php.ini file is located in C:\xampp\php. I also dis­cov­ered the way to get the Debug­ger view mode in Aptana v3.4.2: Win­dows -> Open Per­spec­tive -> Debug.

  12. Igor says:

    When i try to exe­cute the php file (step 9) I get error:
    “An inter­nal error occurred dur­ing: “Launch­ing hello_aptana”.
    Mal­formed \uxxxx encod­ing.“
    Some­body can help me?

    • Bhagwat Chouhan says:

      Hi Igor,

      I think it’s just con­fig­u­ra­tion issue. The path for PHP exe­cutable and ini file should be correct.

      Exe­cutable Path: /usr/bin/php5/php.exe
      PHP ini file: /usr/bin/php5/php.ini

  13. howard says:

    Hi, thank you so much for this excel­lent step-by-step tuto­r­ial. So many, tuto­ri­als leave the odd step out and it takes a long time/forever to work out was has been omit­ted. Bril­liant effort

  14. John says:

    when I debug my php file, I get ‘Invalid thread access’ error.
    I use xampp ver­sion 1..8.3.3
    how can I fix the prob­lem?
    Thanks in advanced

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