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Debugging Phoenix Applications

The goal is to drop a line like binding.pry (or byebug) into a phoenix app to inspect state.

Require IEx at the top of the file you want to debug.

require IEx

Place the debugger.


Run your test or server.

iex -S mix test web/controllers/user_controller_test.exs

iex -S mix phoenix.server

When execution hits the debug line, you’ll see a prompt.

Request to pry #PID<0.460.0> at test/controllers/user_controller_test.exs:10

        Enum.each(User, &Repo.insert!(&1))


        response = build_conn

Allow? [Yn]

Running without the iex -S prefix shows a warning when execution hits the debug line.

Cannot pry #PID<0.283.0> at test/controllers/user_controller_test.exs:10. Is anIEx shell running?

Be sure to prefix your mix command with iex -S mix ... to avoid this.

After sitting in the debugger for 15 seconds, I got this error:

20:41:07.390 [error] Postgrex.Protocol (#PID<0.261.0>) disconnected: ** (DBConnection.ConnectionError) owner #PID<0.292.0> timed out because it owned the connection for longer than 15000ms
** (EXIT from #PID<0.292.0>) killed

This page documents the solution.

Postgres connections timeout after 15000 miliseconds by default. Override that configuration by setting the timeout to 10 minutes.


config :my_app, MyApp.Repo,
  ownership_timeout: 1000 * 60 * 10

Sitting at a breakpoint for more than 60 seconds earns a new error.

** (ExUnit.TimeoutError) test timed out after 60000ms. You can change the timeout:

       1. per test by setting "@tag timeout: x"
       2. per case by setting "@moduletag timeout: x"
       3. globally via "ExUnit.start(timeout: x)" configuration
       4. or set it to infinity per run by calling "mix test --trace"
          (useful when using IEx.pry)

     Timeouts are given as integers in milliseconds.

I chose to use the --trace option. Add it to your iex command.

iex -S mix test --trace web/controllers/user_controller_test.exs

Once you’re done at a breakpoint, use the respawn command to continue execution.

phoenix elixir debug pry byebug