Multi-language DBGP debugger client (PHP, Python, Perl, Ruby, etc.)
Python Vim script
Clone or download
joonty and vim-scripts Version 1.5.1
Bug fixes:
 * Fix buffers not being wiped out after ending a session (thanks @BlackIkeEagle, #226)

 * Add :VdebugEval! command, which remembers the eval expression when stepping
 through, as an alternative to :VdebugTrace (thanks @benjifisher, #193)
Latest commit c06b4c8 Sep 7, 2015
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doc Version 1.5.1 Sep 9, 2015
plugin Version 1.5.1 Sep 9, 2015
syntax Version 1.5.0 Aug 28, 2015
tests Version 1.5.0 Aug 28, 2015
CHANGELOG Version 1.5.1 Sep 9, 2015
LICENCE Version 1.0: Initial upload Aug 16, 2012
README Version 1.3.0 Jan 5, 2013 Version 1.5.1 Sep 9, 2015
VERSION Version 1.5.1 Sep 9, 2015 Version 1.3.1 Jan 5, 2013


Build Status


Vdebug is a new, fast, powerful debugger client for Vim. It's multi-language, and has been tested with PHP, Python, Ruby, Perl, Tcl and NodeJS. It interfaces with any debugger that faithfully uses the DBGP protocol, such as Xdebug for PHP.
There are step-by-step instructions for setting up debugging with all of the aforementioned languages in the Vim help file that comes with Vdebug.

It builds on the experience gained through the legacy of the Xdebug Vim script originally created by Seung Woo Shin and extended by so many others, but it's a total rebuild to allow for a nicer interface and support of new features.

It's written in Python, and has an object-oriented interface that is easy to extend and can even be used from the command-line. It even has unit tests covering some of the more critical parts of the code.

Getting help

If you're having trouble with Vdebug in any way, here are the steps you can take to get help (in the right order):

  1. Check the issues to see whether it's already come up.
  2. Visit the #vdebug irc channel on freenode, someone is normally there.
  3. Open a new issue.


Follow me on Twitter, @joonty, for Vdebug updates and release news.

  • 07/09/2015: Version 1.5.1 released. This adds a :VdebugEval! command and fixes issues with buffers not being wiped out. See below for more information.
  • 26/08/2015: Version 1.5.0 released. This has a whole series of fixes and even a couple of new features.
  • 15/05/2014: Version 1.4.2 released. This fixes major problems with the latest version of Vim, which has stricter rules around function naming. See this pull request for more details
  • 12/04/2014: My son was born! Hence no contact or work on Vdebug for the following month.

Recent version (version 1.5.1)

Bug fixes:

  • Fix buffers not being wiped out after ending a session (thanks @BlackIkeEagle, #226)


  • Add :VdebugEval! command, which remembers the eval expression when stepping through, as an alternative to :VdebugTrace (thanks @benjifisher, #193)

See the CHANGELOG for the full history of changes.

How to use

First of all, scoot down to the quick guide below.

There is extensive help provided in the form of a Vim help file. This goes through absolutely everything, from installation to configuration, setting up debuggers for various languages, explanation of the interface, options, remote server debugging and more.

To get this help, type:

:help Vdebug

after installing the plugin. If this doesn't work, you will need to generate the help tags.

Generating help tags

Some package managers, such as Vundle, will automatically generate help tags. Others, such as Pathogen, won't by default, so you have to do it yourself. Also, if you have installed Vdebug manually then you will also have to do this step.

For pathogen users, you can add this to your vimrc file to automatically generate helptags for your plugins:

call pathogen#helptags()

To manually generate the tags, run this in vim:

:helptags /path/to/vdebug/doc

where the path supplied is vdebug's doc directory. This should enable vdebug's help to be accessed.



  • Vim compiled with Python 2.4+ support, tabs and signs (for Debian/Ubuntu this is provided in the vim-nox package)
  • A programming language that has a DBGP debugger, e.g. PHP, Python, Ruby, Perl, NodeJS, Tcl...


Clone or download a tarball of the plugin and move its content in your ~/.vim/ directory.

Your ~/.vim/plugin/ directory should now contain vdebug.vim and a directory called "python".

Using git and Pathogen

Clone this repository in your ~/.vim/bundle directory

Using vundle

Add this to your ~/.vimrc file:

Bundle 'joonty/vdebug.git'

Then, from the command line, run:

vim +BundleInstall +qall

Quick guide

Set up any DBGP protocol debugger, e.g. Xdebug. (See :help VdebugSetUp). Start Vdebug with <F5>, which will make it wait for an incoming connection. Run the script you want to debug, with the debugging engine enabled. A new tab will open with the debugging interface.

Once in debugging mode, the following default mappings are available:

  • <F5>: start/run (to next breakpoint/end of script)
  • <F2>: step over
  • <F3>: step into
  • <F4>: step out
  • <F6>: stop debugging (kills script)
  • <F7>: detach script from debugger
  • <F9>: run to cursor
  • <F10>: toggle line breakpoint
  • <F11>: show context variables (e.g. after "eval")
  • <F12>: evaluate variable under cursor
  • :Breakpoint <type> <args>: set a breakpoint of any type (see :help VdebugBreakpoints)
  • :VdebugEval <code>: evaluate some code and display the result
  • <Leader>e: evaluate the expression under visual highlight and display the result

To stop debugging, press <F6>. Press it again to close the debugger interface.

If you can't get a connection, then chances are you need to spend a bit of time setting up your environment. Type :help Vdebug for more information.


If you have a problem, and would like to see what's going on under the hood or raise an issue, it's best to create a log file. You can do this by setting these options before you start debugging:

:VdebugOpt debug_file ~/vdebug.log
:VdebugOpt debug_file_level 2

Then start debugging, and you can follow what's added to the log file as you go. It shows the communication between the debugging engine and Vdebug.

If you're creating an issue then it's probably best to upload a log as a Gist, as it can be pretty large.


I gladly accept contributions to the code. Just fork the repository, make your changes and open a pull request with detail about your changes. There are a couple of conditions:


  • The tests use unittest2 and mock, so make sure they're installed
pip install unittest2
pip install mock
  • To run the tests, run python in the top directory of the plugin


This plugin is released under the MIT License.