Tim Deschryver

.NET Debugging Tips

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A collection of tips for debugging .NET applications.

Debug Tip #1: Conditional Breakpoints

What: a breakpoint that's only hit when a condition is satisfied
How: right-click a breakpoint, select Conditions, then write your expressions (with IntelliSense support)
Why: when you want to debug a specific case in an iteration
Docs: https://docs.microsoft.com/en-us/visualstudio/debugger/using-breakpoints?view=vs-2022

Debug Tip #2: Data Breakpoints

What: a breakpoint that's only hit every time the value of a variable changes
How: right-click a variable, click on the "Set Data Breakpoint" menu item
Why: when you don't know when/how a value is changed
Docs: https://docs.microsoft.com/en-us/visualstudio/debugger/using-breakpoints

Debug Tip #3: Moving the debug pointer

What: move the debug pointer to another location
How: drag and drag the debug pointer
Why: when you want to re-execute a code block, or when you want to step into a different execution path
Docs: https://docs.microsoft.com/en-us/visualstudio/debugger/navigating-through-code-with-the-debugger

Debug Tip #4: Break on handled exceptions

What: pause the application when there's a (handled) exception (all exception types, or specific)
How: enable all "Common Language Runtime" (CLR) Exceptions (check the checkbox)
Why: to easily find the root cause of an issue
Docs: https://docs.microsoft.com/en-us/visualstudio/debugger/managing-exceptions-with-the-debugger

Debug Tip #5: The immediate window

What: A console where you can quickly jot down code to execute
How: Visual Studio: Debug > Windows > Immediate (ctrl+alt+i). Rider: Open by default (alt+i to give it focus)
Why: Execute code to try things out without a restart
Docs: https://docs.microsoft.com/en-us/visualstudio/ide/reference/immediate-window

Debug Debug Tip #6: The Debugger Display Attribute

What: Configure how an object is represented in a debug window
How: Add the DebuggerDisplay attribute to your class
Why: Make it easy to see the important information while debugging
Docs: https://docs.microsoft.com/en-us/visualstudio/debugger/using-the-debuggerdisplay-attribute

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