Installing PHP with PHP Tools for Visual Studio

PHP is required to run your PHP project locally. Besides, the PHP's Xdebug extension is required as well, in order to get the debugging functionality working.

There are several ways of getting the project ready to run. You can choose depending on the case:

Select or Install PHP Version

If you don't have PHP installed yet, open or create a PHP Project and go to the project's Properties. Choose your desired PHP version as depicted below.

Installing PHP Automatically

Save the properties and proceed to the automatic PHP installation either by running the project (F5) or by clicking on the warning message Issues found. Click for details and fix.

Installing PHP Automatically

You'll be asked for administrator rights. Then, Microsoft's Web Platform Installer will proceed with the installation of PHP already configured with the Xdebug extension, which enables the debugging functionality.

Existing PHP Installation

If you have PHP already installed, but it´s not listed in the project properties (as shown in the first dialog image above), you can configure it to be used by Visual Studio. Go to menu Tools | Options and navigate to PHP Tools / Interpreter as depicted below.

PHP Interpreter option

In the dialog, you can choose a custom directory with php.exe program and optionally fix any of its configuration issues.

Issues dialog

Note 1: this option may not be able to configure Xdebug for you properly.

Then, in order to use the specified PHP version by your actual PHP project, go to project properties and choose your configured PHP directory.

Note 2: PHP Tools will check and analyze the PHP configuration file php.ini. The location of php.ini is determined in several steps, according to the PHP behavior. If the location is not correct, please check the following:

  • The system environment variable PHPRC forces PHP to use php.ini in a specified location. Removing this environment variable is recommended.
  • PHP looks for php.ini in its directory. Ensure the php.ini file exists.
  • PHP specifies several other locations, such as system registry. Follow for more information.

Using a Remote PHP Server

It is possible to run your projects on a remote machine or a virtualized environment, such as a docker container.

Setup your remote machine with your PHP and Xdebug configurations, go to the PHP project properties and choose the custom server as depicted below. Enter the remote machine URL and start your project.

Issues dialog

Note: make sure your PHP project gets deployed onto the remote machine upon starting the project, or the project directory is mapped to the remote machine's directory.

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