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Apparently PHP is capable of being interactively debugged in an IDE, using only FOSS software. I'm still researching this. Apparently there are a number of front-ends (IDEs) which support the necessary protocol, including KDevelop, and there's at least one plug-in on the back-end.

It may be necessary to run PHP and the IDE on the same machine.

  • phpdbg - function library. There is a page for each function, but not a lot of examples or overall explanation of how to make it work.
  • XDebug: Debugger and Profiler Tool for PHP


  • /VSC: using Visual Studio Code

Language Server Protocol (LSP)

It's not clear whether LSP is any help with interactive debugging; it seems primarily aimed at editing.

  • is "A community-driven source of knowledge for Language Server Protocol implementations", including several for PHP.
    • intelephense ticks the most boxes; not sure how to make it work, though
    • php-language-server seems more thoroughly documented (shows graphically what it can do), and might be easier to install