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Handling PHP errors with "Class"

Daniel Gheorghe Difficulty: 35 / 50 Tweet

This article is old. Be careful! It might contain outdated information.

upset urangutan

Debugging a PHP application by relying exclusively on the internal error reporting mechanism that PHP provides is literally like searching for a needle in a haystack. While PHP extensions like Xdebug can help a lot when it comes to killing all those pesky bugs. For those of you who don't want or can't use Xdebug, I wrote a class that enhances the standard error reporting in PHP.

What we want to achieve

By default, when an error occurs, PHP outputs something like "ERROR_TYPE: error message at line X in file.php" and nothing else. What we want is to make that more relevant by adding a back-trace of the entire call stack that eventually led to the error. Also we want to be able to see function or class names that have been called and other details like function arguments or properties of objects.

How to do it

The "set_error_handler" function is used to modify error reporting for E_NOTICE, E_WARNING and all the other non fatal error types, while the "register_shutdown_function" can be used to manage fatal errors by executing a callback when the script execution finishes. Using a combination of these two we can then call "debug_backtrace" and provide much more relevant info when errors happen.

Below is the full source code which you can use and extend as you please. Make sure you instantiate the errors class before doing anything else inside your code by calling "new Error();". You can also get the code from this GitHub repository.

    1. Used to output a debug_backtrace when an error occurs
    2. It registers a shutdown function that is meant to output fatal errors nicely
    3. Parse errors are NOT handled.
  class Error
    private $startTime = 0;

    function __construct()
      $this->startTime = microtime(true);
        ini_set("display_errors", "on");
        set_error_handler(array($this, 'scriptError'));
        register_shutdown_function(array($this, 'shutdown'));

    function scriptError($errno, $errstr, $errfile, $errline)
        header("HTTP/1.1 500 Internal Server Error");
      if(ob_get_contents() !== false)

        case E_ERROR:               $errseverity = "Error";             break;
        case E_WARNING:             $errseverity = "Warning";           break;
        case E_NOTICE:              $errseverity = "Notice";            break;
        case E_CORE_ERROR:          $errseverity = "Core Error";        break;
        case E_CORE_WARNING:        $errseverity = "Core Warning";      break;
        case E_COMPILE_ERROR:       $errseverity = "Compile Error";     break;
        case E_COMPILE_WARNING:     $errseverity = "Compile Warning";   break;
        case E_USER_ERROR:          $errseverity = "User Error";        break;
        case E_USER_WARNING:        $errseverity = "User Warning";      break;
        case E_USER_NOTICE:         $errseverity = "User Notice";       break;
        case E_STRICT:              $errseverity = "Strict Standards";  break;
        case E_RECOVERABLE_ERROR:   $errseverity = "Recoverable Error"; break;
        case E_DEPRECATED:          $errseverity = "Deprecated";        break;
        case E_USER_DEPRECATED:     $errseverity = "User Deprecated";   break;
        default:                    $errseverity = "Error";             break;

      $v = debug_backtrace();
      $Date = date("Y M d H:i:s");
      $out = '
      <pre style="border-bottom:1px solid #eee;">
        <span style="color:red;">'.$errseverity.':</font> '.$errstr.'
          <span style="color:#3D9700;">Line '.$errline.': '.$errfile.'</span>
        <strong>BACKTRACE:</strong>' . PHP_EOL;
      for ($i = 1; $i<count($v); $i++)
        $out .= "\tLine ".(isset($v[$i]["line"]) ? $v[$i]["line"] : "unknown").": ".(isset($v[$i]["file"]) ? $v[$i]["file"] : "unknown"). PHP_EOL;
        $out .= "\t\tMore: " . PHP_EOL;
        $out .= empty($v[$i]["function"]) ? "" : "\t\t\t" . "Function:"  .   $v[$i]["function"];
        $out .= empty($v[$i]["class"])    ? "" : "\t\t\t" . "Class:"     .   $v[$i]["class"];
        $out .= empty($v[$i]["class"])    ? "" : "\t\t\t" . "Object:"    .   json_encode($v[$i]["object"]);
      echo $out;

    function shutdown()
      $isError = false;
      if ($error = error_get_last())
          case E_ERROR:
          case E_CORE_ERROR:
          case E_COMPILE_ERROR:
          case E_USER_ERROR:
          case E_RECOVERABLE_ERROR:
          case E_CORE_WARNING:
          case E_COMPILE_WARNING:
            $isError = true;
            $this->scriptError($error['type'], $error['message'], $error['file'], $error['line']);
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