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Beginner Debugging: For Your Eyes Only

By John Starkey
on October 30, 2002

When debugging a site that’s live, viewing the progression of your script can save quite a bit of time,
resulting in considerably less complaints. However, it’s absolutely essential that you avoid throwing
your variables to the screen while visitors are viewing your pages. One way to avoid exposing your
sensitive data, while also giving yourself a live printout of your variables is by making them visible
to only you and/or your team.
The technique I will show you here requires that you have a static IP, or that you are willing to monitor
your dynamic IP and change values as it changes. Also, everything that is echoed to the screen will be
visible to anyone on your IP. So, if you are sharing IPs with someone you don’t want viewing your data,
this is not the technique you should use. This should also not be used for extremely sensitive data. If you
think that it’s worth someone’s time spoofing your address, then avoid this at all costs. However, if your
code is strictly for handling your grocery list, and you don’t mind coming home with 100 extra cans of Minestrone,
only to find that your wife didn’t enter them, this might be optimal for you.
Another very important thing to remember: never leave debugging on any longer than you have to. Once you’ve
completed your mission, be sure to turn it off. This will help to minimize the chances of someone grabbing your
data while you aren’t looking.