Figure A: Enabling script debugging in Internet Explorer
Breakpoints are set/cleared by clicking to the left of the code within the IDE; by using the Debug menu or by using the Breakpoint Context menu available by right-clicking on the code. In addition, you may create conditional breakpoints to allow you to define conditions for the breakpoint, as well as set up a macro to run or a message to print when the breakpoint is triggered.
Breakpoints are viewable in the Watch window located by default in the lower left of Visual Studio 2008.
- Call Stack: The Call Stack tab in the lower right of Visual Studio 2008 allows you to view what is being called when the ASP.NET page is loaded/running.
- Locals: The Locals tab in the lower left of Visual Studio 2008 allows you to view the values of variables and objects during script execution. Also, you may change the contents of one of the local variables while the page is running.
The Debug drop-down menu within Visual Studio 2008 provides a Windows submenu that allows you to define what windows to display while debugging. The examples in this article use Locals, Watch, Call Stack, and Immediate Window.
The most used feature during debugging is often breakpoints because you can use them to stop code execution and examine the state of variables and objects at that point in the script. Breakpoints provide a number of features (which are available via the Debug drop-down menu during a debugging session) for their use.
Code execution stops at each breakpoint — unless it is a conditional breakpoint whose condition has not been met. Once the code is halted, you may choose to continue one line at a time or until the next breakpoint is encountered.
The debugger is actually enabled via the Debug menu in Visual Studio 2008. You go to Debug | Start to begin a debugging session or press [F5]. A picture is worth a thousand words, so let’s take a closer look at actually using the debugger.
Figure B shows this page running in debug mode. A breakpoint has been set on the line that populates a local variable with the contents of a DIV tag on the page. The red circle to the left of the line lets you know that it is a breakpoint. The line of code waiting to run is highlighted in yellow.
Figure B: Sample page opened for debugging in Visual Studio 2008
Also, a watch has been set on the divText variable, so the many properties associated with it are displayed in the Watch window at the bottom of the screen. Watches have been greatly enhanced in Visual Studio 2008 to include much more detail. You can now view runtime object’s methods and events, as well as property and property type information.
The Script Documents feature of Visual Studio 2008 allows you to easily keep an eye on what is loaded and where it originated. While debugging, the Script Documents node will appear within the Solution Explorer pane. It will include the URL of each resource loaded into the page. It is visible in the upper right of Figure B.
Take a peek
Tony Patton began his professional career as an application developer earning Java, VB, Lotus, and XML certifications to bolster his knowledge.
Get weekly development tips in your inbox
Keep your developer skills sharp by signing up for TechRepublic’s free Web Developer newsletter, delivered each Tuesday. Automatically subscribe today!