Phil Sturgeon's Blog: Power dump() on your PHP applications
Phil Sturgeon has a quick new post with a code snippet that could make your debugging life a bit simpler - a "dump" function that can give you a bit more information about your error than a standard var_dump.
When trying to work out what the hell is going wrong in your PHP application the first thing most of us start doing is madly start var_dump()'ing everything possible to work out where the problem is. var_dump() is fine, but by default it comes out in one line. So then we need to echo tags. Then we can't always see whats going on, especially if the background is black and bla bla bla so it goes on.
He mentions an alternative like XDebug, but that also requires access to install it on the server. His alternative, the "dump" function, catches the error, pulls out a backtrace of the path your script took to get there and echoes it out with the line number of the error and filename.