During PHP development I like to echo out the values of variables/functions to make sure they're what I expect or to find out what's in them. PHP's print_r() function works fine mostly but I decided I wanted the output formatted clearer and each variable type shown as well as the value. A big problem too is that if there's any HTML in the value you pass to print_r() then it gets printed to the page without being escaped so you get in a right mess.
I decided to write my own function which tells you everything you could possibly want to know about whatever you throw at it. Usage is stupidly easy:
will print out whatever is in $variable. If it's a string or a number it'll just tell you what it is and its value. If it's an array or an object it'll iteratively loop over it and output each element or property (handling an infinite depth of multidimensional arrays), telling you the type and value of each element as it goes. Example:
Something more complicated like this:
The function takes two optional parameters. The second parameter ($name) can be used to override the displayed name which preceeds the output. The third parameter ($echo) can be set to false to just return the value and not echo it.
So this function can be used in any of my PHP files, I've got it inside a file called _auto_prepend.php and this file gets automatically prepended to every PHP file with the auto_prepend PHP directive. On my local XAMPP installation I've got an .htaccess file in my DocumentRoot folder to do it. On my remote web server I've had to change the value in my php.ini file as it wouldn't let me override the auto_prepend value using .htaccess. See the downloads section an example .htaccess. If it doesn't work then the php.ini version is there too.
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