How can I get useful error messages in PHP?

I find programming in PHP quite frustrating. Quite often I will try and run the script and just get a blank screen back. No error message, just empty screen. The cause might have been a simple syntax error (wrong bracket, missing semicolon), or a failed function call, or something else entirely.

It is very difficult to figure out what went wrong. I end up commenting out code, entering “echo” statements everywhere, etc. trying to narrow down the problem. But there surely must be a better way, right?.

So, is there a way to get PHP to produce a useful error message as Java does? Can anyone recommend good PHP debugging tips and techniques?