Making development in PHP less painful with logging

I've been looking for a nicer way to handle logging when developing with php than simply hitting F5 all the time and this approach here, if you're spending more than 30 mins writing something is a silly approach to debugging.

  $value = do_somestuff_with_code();

For a start, it assumes that we'll only ever access this code directly through a browser, and also, it means we can't see what was happening up to and around any kind of important event (like an silly error bringing down a your site) has occured, once it's left your machine.

These seem to be the options available that I've found:

Klogger - the lightest option

KLogger is refreshingly simple - it's a tiny PHP class, that simply logs to a file, in a straightforward fashion. No browser integration, or logging to remote servers, (which we don't really need most of the time).

Here's what the code looks like:

    $log = new KLogger ( "log.txt" , KLogger::INFO );
    $log->LogInfo("Returned a million search results");	//Prints to the log file
    $log->LogFATAL("Oh dear.");				//Prints to the log file
    $log->LogDebug("x = 5");					//Prints nothing due to priority setting

This will log the first two mesages to a file, but because we created the logging class using KLogger::INFO as our second param, we've set the logging level to be slightly less verbose than if we had set up using the KLogger::DEBUG.

PHPConsole - chrome output of errors instead of a file.

If you don't want to log to files, you may want to try out PHPConsole, a plugin for chrome that lets you output messages to the chrome console, instead of clogging up your displayed page with debug code.


    // test
    debug('test message');
    debug('SELECT * FROM users', 'sql');

This doesn't log to a file, so if you want anything more persistent, so you may want to look at the companion class for PHPConsole, Lagger.

The PHP console also works with Lagger, another logging library that sounds very powerful, but left like way more code than I actually need.

For example, look at how much setup code we have here in the example - I'm sure load of it is useful, but before I've even started, I'm having to understand what an EVENTSPACE is, and start configuring it all:

    define('LAGGER_BASE_DIR', '../library/');
    function autoloadLaggerClasses($class) {
            if(strpos($class, 'Lagger_') === 0) {
                    require_once (LAGGER_BASE_DIR . str_replace('_', '/', $class) . '.php');
    $laggerES = new Lagger_Eventspace();
    $debug = new Lagger_Handler_Debug($laggerES);
    $errors = new Lagger_Handler_Errors($laggerES);
    $exceptions = new Lagger_Handler_Exceptions($laggerES);

    $chromeConsole = new Lagger_Action_ChromeConsole();

    function debug($message, $tags = null) {
            $GLOBALS['debug']->handle($message, $tags);

    // test
    debug('debug message', 'some,test,tags');
    echo $unkownVar;

If I'm writing this much setup code, I might as well go the whole way and start using the logging tools provided by PEAR, the closest thing in PHP that I can find to Rubygems. Which brings me to...


Once you've got past the hassle of installing PEAR on your system properly (it felt like way more faff than I expected the first time when setting up PHPUnit), using PEAR Logger seems nice enough, and refreshingly, it feels like it's been written with a decent knowledge of concepts like the Singleton and Factory Patterns. The examples and documentation are fantastic, and out of the box it can also log to firebug. I haven't looked into logging to chrome yet, but [this post here suggests it can][wppearlog].

Here's some sample code for Pear Log, taken from [Irakli Nadareishvili's][] blog post about using it with Drupal.

    require_once 'Log.php';
    // use a lenient permission mask, and format entries accordingly
    $logconf = array('mode' => 0775, 'timeFormat' => '%X %x');

    // make sure only single log instance can ever exist, and output it
    // to '/tmp/pear.log', passing in the log configuration object
    $logger = &Log::singleton('file', '/tmp/pear.log', 'ident', $logconf);

    global $logger; //once per scope e.g. once per function body.

    $logger->log ( "LOREM IPSUM TESTS. DO NOT TOUCH");

    // print_r equivalent, to pretty print an object
    $drw = new Drawing();
    $logger->log ( var_export ($drw,true) );

Interestingly, you can also create custom handlers for Pear Log, which would allow talking to a centralised error monitoring service like Hoptoad.


I'd definitely recommend using a logging library over just dumping stuff onto a screen if you can help it - if you're new to logging, try out Klogger.

If you find yourself needing something larger, and you're prepared to spend a few minutes setting up PEAR (which you'd need for PHPUnit anyway), I'd recommand using PEAR Log - it's got a nice API, lots of other libraries are setup to use it already, and the documentation makes it easy to get started with.

[[Irakli Nadareishvili's]: [wppearlog]:

Copyright © 2020 Chris Adams
Powered by Cryogen
Theme by KingMob