Debugging made easy

I know that debugging and how it's done is a very personal thing. Still - I'd like to share some of my experiences and tips I've gathered during my years of programming. Here goes...

The situation: I know a specific line that I'd like to debug to in a file. The solution before: navigate to the line, add a breakpoint, press F5. It's pretty simple in essence but still a bit cumbersome. And what if this breakpoint is a one-timer - you'd have to remove it afterwards. Furthermore, if you forget to remove it, the next time the debugger breaks at the line it ever so rudly interupts your already mentally challenging debugging session. It just so happens to be there's a solution for all this - a command called Run to cursor. I've set it under the F8 key so it's close to all the rest of the debugging keys. What it does is runs the code and breaks the debugger at the line where the caret is positioned - no need for temporary breakpoints etc. Cool, huh? :)

Next on the list - the Debugger.Break() method in the System.Diagnostics namespace. This method signals a breakpoint to an attached debugger. One might wonder - what's the point - I could have just as easily defined a breakpoint myself, why the fuss about defining it in code. A very valid point. Now imagine a case when there is no debugger yet attached or there is no simple way to attach one. If this is the case then calling this method asks the user to select a debugger. This method comes in handy when debugging e.g. windows services and processes than cannot be started out of Visual Studio. Awesome - I know.

Last but not least - DebuggerStepThroughAttribute in the System.Diagnostics namespace. This attribute can be used to decorate a class, struct, method and constructor and tells the debugger to ignore the decorated piece of code and not step into it, although a breakpoint can still be set an be breaked to. The step through attribute can also be defined on a property but has to be declared on the setter and getter individually. Common uses would be e.g. .net base class library extension methods, simple field accessor properties on domain objects etc. Here's a nuisance this attribute helps to overcome: some object properties are passed into a method as parameters and you want the debugger to step into the method withouth having to initially step through all the properties. Once the getters on the properties have the step through attribute on them the debugger can step right into the desired method ignoring the properties.

I sincerely hope any of this is helpful to some of the fellow programmers out there and once again - it wouldn't hurt to hear you, the reade's, handy tips about code debugging in Visual Studio in the comments section.

Debug away...