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Debugging PHP in Archipelago

This document describes how to enable Xdebug for local PHP development using the PHPStorm IDE and a docker container running the Archipelago esmero-php:development image. It involves interacting with the esmero/archipelago-docker-images repo and the esmero/archipelago-deployment repo.

Part 1: Docker

  1. Run the following commands from your /archipelago-deployment directory:

    docker-compose down \ docker-compose -f docker-compose.yml -f up -d

    This version of docker-compose up uses an override file to modify our services. we now have an extra PHP container called esmero-php-debug.

    To stop the containers in the future, run docker-compose -f docker-compose.yml -f down.

    (To make these commands easier to remember, consider making bash aliases in your .bashrc file.)
    (If you are running your development on a Linux system, you may need to make a modification to your xdebug configuration file on the esmero-php-dev container. See appendix at the bottom of this page.)

    So we have reloaded the containers and now you are ready for Part 2.

Part 2: PHPStorm

  1. In PHPStorm, open your archipelago-deployment project.

  2. Go to Preferences > Languages & Frameworks > PHP > Debug or Settings > PHP > Servers. In this window there is an Xdebug section. Use these settings:

    • Debug port: 9003. (do NOT use the default, 9000)
    • Can accept external connections: yes, select checkbox
    • (optional) Break at first line in PHP scripts: uncheck. If you leave this selected, you will have to manually step through a breakpoint from Drupal's main index.php file on every request, which is quite annoying. However, leaving this box checked can be useful for making sure the connection is working at first, before you have set any internal breakpoints.

    Your settings should look like this. Hit APPLY and OK. Debug

  3. Go to Preferences > Languages & Frameworks > PHP > Servers. We will create a new server here. Use these settings:

    • Name: docker-debug-server
    • Host: localhost
    • Port: 8001
    • Use path mappings: yes, select the checkbox
    • Under project files, select the top-level archipelago-deployment directory in the File/Directory column.
    • In the Absolute path on the server add /var/www/html

    Hit APPLY and OK and close the window.


  4. Go to Run > Edit Configurations. Hit the + Button to create a new PHP Remote Debug. Name whatever you want, I called mine Archipelago. Use these settings:

    • Filter debug connection by IDE Key: yes, select the checkbox
    • Server: select docker-debug-server from dropdown (we created this in step 3)
    • IDE Key: archipelago (this matches the key set in our container)


  5. Note: If you try to validate your connection, it will fail. But that's ok.

  6. Validate your connection. With Run > Edit Configurations still open, you can hit the link that says "Validate". Use these settings in the following validation window:

    • Path to create validation script <your local path>/archipelago-deployment/web
    • Url to validation script: http://localhost:8001

    Hit VALIDATE. You should get a series of green check marks. If you get a warning about missing php.ini file, that is OK, our file has a different name in the container (xdebug.ini) and is still being read correctly. Debug

Set up Browser Integration

  1. We have had success using the XDebug Helper extension in Chrome. Once you have the extension installed, right-click on the bug icon in the top right of your chrome browser window and select "Options" to configure the IDE key. Under "IDE", select "Other", and in the text box, enter "archipelago"

    Debug Debug

Actually Debugging!

  1. Hit the button (top right bar of PHPStorm) that looks like a telephone, for Start Listening for PHP Debug Connections.


  2. Now, you can use Run > Debug and select the Archipelago named configuration that we created in the previous steps. The debugging console will appear. It will say it is waiting for incoming connection from 'archipelago' .

    Debug Debug Debug

  3. Right now the debugging session is not enabled. Browse to localhost:8001. Click on the gray XDebug Helper icon at the top right of your window and select the green "Debug" button. This will tell chrome to set the xdebug session key when you reload the page.

  4. Now set a breakpoint in your code, and refresh the page. If you have breakpoints set, either manually, or from leaving "Break at first line in PHP scripts" checked, you should have output now in the debugger.

  5. If you are done actively debugging, it is best to click the green XDebug Helper icon and select "Disable". This will greatly improve speed and performance for your app in development. When you need to debug, just turn on debugging using the XDebug Helper button again.

  6. If you would like to see the output of your xdebug logs, run the following script: docker exec -ti esmero-php bash -c 'tail -f /tmp/xdebug.log > /proc/1/fd/2'

Then, you can use the typical docker logs command on the esmero-php container, and you will see the xdebug output: docker logs esmero-php -f

Xdebug makes accessing variables in Drupal kind of great. Many possibilities, including debugging for Twig templates. Happy debugging!

Appendix: XDebug on a linux host

If you are developing on a linux machine, you may need to make a change to the xdebug configuration file.

  1. Create a new file in the /archipelago-deployment/xdebug folder called xdebug.ini and enter the following text:
    xdebug.discover_client_host = 1
  2. Make a bind mount to this file in your file:
      - ${PWD}:/var/www/html:cached
        # Bind mount custom xdebug configuration file...
      - ${PWD}/xdebug/xdebug.ini:/usr/local/etc/php/conf.d/docker-php-ext-xdebug.ini
  3. Restart your docker containers using the method described at the top of this page.

Thank you for reading! Please contact us on our Archipelago Commons Google Group with any questions or feedback.

Return to the Archipelago Documentation main page.

Last update: October 5, 2021
Created: January 3, 2020