Hurry Up! Refer new customers to Codentheme and receive  10%  of their each purchase. Become an affiliate now
PHP Errors And How To PHP Debug

PHP Errors And How To PHP Debug

PHP is a popular web development language. Like any other programming language, PHP can encounter errors while executing code. These errors help developers identify and fix code issues. 

In this article, you will explore effective techniques and tools to debug PHP scripts. It will empower you to become a proficient troubleshooter in your development journey.

What is PHP Error?

PHP errors are notifications or messages that appear when PHP code has problems or issues while it is running. These errors are important for developers as they help them identify and fix bugs or mistakes in their code. 

PHP errors can be classified into different types, including syntax errors, runtime errors, logic errors, warning errors, notice errors, and fatal errors.

These errors provide valuable feedback from the PHP interpreter, indicating the exact line or section where the error occurred. By understanding and addressing these errors, developers can enhance PHP applications’ reliability and performance. It is crucial to pay attention to these error messages to effectively identify and resolve issues in the code.

Dealing with PHP errors is an integral part of the development process. It allows programmers to identify and rectify mistakes, ensuring code functions as intended. By being attentive to error messages, developers can improve PHP programs’ quality and functionality.

Types of PHP Errors

Syntax Errors: 

Syntax errors occur when there are mistakes in the syntax or structure of the PHP code. These errors prevent the code from running altogether. Syntax errors are typically easy to spot as they result in a “parse error” message. As an example, let’s look at the code:

echo "Hello, World!" 

In this code snippet, a semicolon is missing at the end of the echo statement. When executed, PHP will display a syntax error message, indicating the problem and the line where it occurred.

Runtime Errors:

Runtime errors, also known as exceptions, occur during PHP script execution. These errors can be caused by various factors, such as dividing by zero, accessing undefined variables, or calling functions that do not exist. As an example, let’s look at the code:

$number1 = 10; 
$number2 = 0; 
$result = $number1 / $number2; 
echo $result; 

In this code snippet, dividing $number1 by $number2 (which is zero) will trigger a runtime error because dividing by zero is not allowed. PHP will throw an error message indicating the issue and the line where it occurred.

Logic Errors: 

Logic errors occur when the code runs without syntax or runtime errors, but the output does not produce the expected result. These errors are usually caused by mistakes in the code’s logic or algorithm. Since logic errors don’t generate error messages, they can be more challenging to identify and fix. As an example, let’s look at the code.

$number1 = 10;
 $number2 = 5; 
$result = $number1 - $number2; 
echo "The result is: " 

In this code snippet, the intention is to subtract $number2 from $number1. However, a logic error occurs because the subtraction symbol is mistakenly replaced with the addition symbol. The code will run without errors, but the output will be incorrect.

Fatal Errors:

Fatal errors are severe errors that usually occur due to critical issues such as calling undefined functions, including non-existent files, or exceeding memory limits. These errors cause the script to stop immediately, and no further code execution occurs. As an example, let’s look at the code:

require 'nonexistent_file.php'; 
echo "This line will not be executed."; 

In this code snippet, the require statement attempts to include a file that doesn’t exist. PHP will throw a fatal error, and script execution will terminate.

Warning Errors:

Warning errors are non-fatal errors that occur when PHP encounters a problem while executing your code. These errors indicate potential issues that may affect your script’s functionality or output. However, PHP continues to run the code despite these errors. Warning errors are displayed to alert developers about possible problems that need attention. As an example, let’s look at the code:

$number1 = 10;
echo $number2;

In this code, a variable called $number2 is echoed without being defined or assigned a value. PHP will generate a warning error because the variable is undefined. The script will still execute, but you will see a warning message indicating the issue.

Notice Errors:

Notice errors are also non-fatal errors that PHP generates to provide information about potential problems in your code. Similar to warning errors, notice errors do not halt script execution. Instead, they serve as informative messages to assist you in identifying and resolving issues. Notice errors are often related to undefined variables or accessing array elements that don’t exist. As an example, let’s look at the code:

$numbers = array(1, 2, 3);
echo $numbers[3];

In this code, the array $numbers only has elements at indexes 0, 1, and 2. Accessing index 3 will result in a notice error because it doesn’t exist in the array. The script will continue to run, but a notice message will be displayed to notify you about the undefined index.

Parse Error:

Parse errors occur when PHP encounters a syntax error that prevents it from parsing or understanding your code. These errors are typically more critical and can cause the script to fail completely. Parse errors often result from missing semicolons, parentheses, or the incorrect use of PHP syntax elements. As an example, let’s look at the code:

$numbers = array(1, 2, 3);
echo $numbers[3];

In this code, there is a missing semicolon at the end of the echo statement. PHP will generate a parse error because it expects the statement to end with a semicolon. The script will not execute, and you will see a parse error message specifying the problem and the line where it occurred.

Understanding these types of errors is essential for debugging and improving PHP code.

How to debug PHP scripts?

Debugging is essential for PHP developers. It allows you to identify and fix errors, bugs, and issues in your code, ensuring smooth execution and optimal performance.

Common PHP Programming Errors.

When writing hundreds of lines of PHP code, it’s not uncommon to encounter certain errors. Let’s examine some common mistakes made by programmers while programming in PHP:

1. Missing Semicolons and Closing Brackets:

One of the frequent errors is forgetting to include a semicolon “;” to terminate a statement or missing closing brackets “}”. These mistakes can disrupt code flow and cause unexpected behavior. To debug these errors, using a best PHP IDE that provides syntax highlighting and suggestions can be helpful.

2. Misspelled Variable Names:

PHP is a case-sensitive language, so mistyping a variable name can cause errors. It’s crucial to ensure variable names are consistent throughout the code.

For example, $var is different from $Var.

3. Assignment Operator vs. Equal Operator:

Confusing the assignment operator “=” with the equal operator “==” can result in logical errors. If you accidentally use “=” instead of “==”, it assigns the value of the right-hand expression to the left-hand variable, making the condition always evaluate to true.

Carefully review your code to ensure proper operator usage.

4. Missing Quotes in SQL Queries:

When working with SQL queries in PHP, omitting quotes around values can lead to syntax errors. To debug such errors, it’s recommended to use the mysqli_error($con) function along with echo to display the specific SQL error message. It helps identify and rectify any issues with your SQL statements.

5. Displaying PHP Output:

If your PHP script is not producing output, ensure that the “display_errors” directive is set to “on” in the php.ini configuration file. Enabling error display allows you to see PHP error messages, helping you identify the root cause of the issue.

Now, we move forward to PHP Debug-

Effective PHP Debugging Techniques.

Now that we have explored some common PHP programming errors, let’s really get into effective debugging techniques to identify and resolve issues in your PHP scripts:

1. Syntax and Typo Checks:

Before debugging, it’s important to ensure your code is free of syntax errors and typos. Utilize an IDE with syntax highlighting to catch these errors early in the development process.

2. Utilize Error Messages:

When encountering errors, carefully read PHP error messages. These messages often contain valuable information about the nature and location of the error, helping you narrow down the problematic section of code.

3. Temporary Code Modifications:

Temporarily modify your code by adding echo or die statements at strategic points to identify specific code sections that might be causing issues. By strategically placing these statements, you can trace the execution flow and determine which parts of your code are being executed and which are not.

4. Logging and Debugging Statements:

Use functions like error_log(), var_dump(), and print_r() to log custom messages or output variable values for debugging purposes. These statements can help you understand your code flow and identify unexpected values or structures.

5. Step-by-Step Debugging:

Utilize a powerful debugging tool like Xdebug, integrated with popular IDEs such as PHPStorm or Visual Studio Code. Step-by-step debugging allows you to execute your code line by line, set breakpoints, and inspect variables, providing a detailed understanding of the code’s execution flow.

6. Documentation and Online Resources:

Leverage PHP documentation and online resources like Stack Overflow, PHP forums, and developer blogs. These platforms provide insights into common issues, debugging techniques, and best practices shared by experienced developers.

Utilizing PHP Debugging Tools.

PHP provides various debugging tools to enhance your debugging experience.

Briefly, here’s what you need to know:

1. IDE Integration:

IDEs like PHPStorm and Visual Studio Code offer integrated debugging features. By configuring the appropriate PHP extensions, such as Xdebug or ZendDebugger, you can seamlessly debug your PHP code within the IDE. This is done by leveraging breakpoints, variable inspection, and other powerful debugging functionalities.

2. Error Reporting Configuration:

PHP allows you to configure error reporting levels and error logging mechanisms through php.ini or .htaccess files. Adjusting these settings enables you to customize error handling and logging based on your debugging requirements.


Debugging PHP scripts is crucial for developers to ensure smooth and optimal performance. By following the techniques discussed in this article and utilizing the available debugging tools, you can effectively identify and resolve errors in your PHP code.

Point to remember, debugging is an iterative process that requires patience and attention to detail. With practice and the right tools at your disposal, you’ll become proficient at debugging PHP scripts and delivering robust applications.

Related Posts

cURL in PHP: A Comprehensive Tutorial
cURL in PHP: A Comprehensive Tutorial

cURL is a powerful tool that can handle all sorts of data-related tasks in PHP…

Read More
How to Use Try Catch in PHP for Effective Debugging.
How to Use Try Catch in PHP for Effective Debugging.

Programming errors are a part of all software development. PHP is no exception! Handling errors…

Read More