PHP Tip: Quick and Easy Variable Debug Display

When developing or prototyping code, I find that I need a quick dump of information about the code I’m working on. This is not limited to just variables, but also function returns and other resources. I created this tiny function that can handle multiple variables and if the first parameter is the name of an export function it will use that for display.


function DumpVariables() {
   // Get all of our variables
   $Vars = func_get_args();
   $VarCount = count($Vars);

   // Determine dump function
   switch ($Vars[0]) {
      case 'print_r':
      case 'var_export':
         $DumpFunction = array_shift($Vars);

         $DumpFunction = 'var_dump';

   // Make our divider
   $Line = str_repeat('-', 30);

   foreach ($Vars AS $Sequence=>$Var) {
      // Handle the first pass of the data
      if (!isset($Check)) {
         // Test for a shell to determine a web or shell environment
         if (!isset($_SERVER['SHELL'])) {
            print "<pre>\n";
         // Header
         print "Dumping {$VarCount} variables ".date('Y-m-d H:i:s')."\n";
         $Check = true;
      // Variable Header
      print "\n\n {$Line} Variable {$Sequence} {$Line}\n\n";
      $DumpFunction($Var); // Dump the variable
    print "\n\n {$Line} End of Dump {$Line}\n"; // Footer
    exit(0); // Kill the process because we are debugging

// Examples
DumpVariables('print_r', $myVar, get_class_methods($myClass), New MyClass);
DumpVariables($Session, $PostData, $DatabaseRecord->toArray());