End-to-end: Setup PHP Debugging for Visual Studio Code on Windows

This is a quick tutorial of minimum installation and configurations of development environment for PHP programming, including Apache, PHP, and Visual Studio Code (VSCode) on 64 bit Windows.


Check if Visual C++ 2015 Redistributable (x64) or higher version is installed for Windows.


If not, install it from Microsoft https://www.visualstudio.com/downloads/:


Setup Apache

Go to Apache website: https://httpd.apache.org/docs/current/platform/windows.html#down, and download the Windows version, for example, httpd-2.4.25-win64-VC14.zip.

Extract the files to a folder, for example, D:\Software\Apache.

Then go to the Apache installation directory, under conf directory, open httpd.conf file, replace all “c:/Apache24” strings with relative path “..”.

Setup PHP

Go to PHP website: http://windows.php.net/download, download the Windows version, for example, VC14 x64 Thread Safe.

Extract the files to a folder, for example, D:\Software\Php.

Go to the PHP directory, copy the php.ini-development file, and paste as php.ini.

Open the file,

  • Uncomment ; extension_dir = "ext", and replace with relative path extension_dir = "..\..\Php\ext"
  • Enable the extensions, like curl, gd2, mbstring, sockets, etc., by comment the configurations, like extension=php_curl.dll, etc.
  • Replace the temporary directory “..\tmp” with the correct path, for example “..\..\Temp\Php

Go back to Apache’s conf/httpd.conf file,

  • add LoadModule php7_module "../Php/php7apache2_4.dll",
  • add AddType application/x-httpd-php .php,
  • add PHPIniDir ../php

Setup XDebug

Go to XDebug website: https://xdebug.org/download.php, download the Windows version, for example, PHP 7.1 VC14 TS (64 bit) in this case.

Extract the single file to PHP extensions directory, for example, D:\Software\Php\ext\php_xdebug-2.5.4-7.1-vc14-x86_64.dll in this case.

Go to php.ini, add relative path of XDebug, for example, zend_extension = ..\..\Php\ext\php_xdebug-2.5.4-7.1-vc14-x86_64.dll.

Setup Visual Studio Code

Go to Visual Studio Code website: https://code.visualstudio.com, install Visual Studio Code.

Launch Visual Studio Code, install the PHP Debug extension: https://marketplace.visualstudio.com/items?itemName=felixfbecker.php-debug.

Go to the settings, change the "php.validate.executablePath" item to PHP binary path, for example, "D:\\Software\\Php\\php.exe".

Setup Website

Go to Apache’s conf/httpd.conf,

  • Set the port, for example, change Listen 80 to Listen 81.
  • Uncomment server name, for example ServerName localhost:81
  • Set document root to website directory, for example, change DocumentRoot "c:/Apache24/htdocs" to DocumentRoot "../../../Code/Website"
  • Change <Directory "c:/Apache24/htdocs"> to the website directory too <Directory "../../../Code/Website">
  • Inside <Directory />, change Require all denied to Require all granted
  • Add index.php as directory index, by changing DirectoryIndex index.html to DirectoryIndex index.php index.html

In command line, run D:\Software\Apache\bin\httpd.exe.

Open the website directory with Visual Studio Code, create a file index.php with one line of code: <?php phpinfo(); ?>, add a break point. Press F5 to start debugging.

Open the website in browser: http://localhost:81, the index.php is executed, and the break point is triggered in Visual Studio Code.



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