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IntelliTrace historical debugging in Visual Studio Ultimate

From: Visual Studio 2010 Essential Training

Video: IntelliTrace historical debugging in Visual Studio Ultimate

Visual Studio has an amazing new debugging feature called IntelliTrace. This feature is only available in the Ultimate edition of Visual Studio. So if you don't have that version, you will not be able to follow along with this demonstration. Now normally, I wouldn't show you features from the Ultimate edition as we are targeting the Premium edition for this series, but this feature is very interesting from a developer's perspective, and I thought it was worth a look. Also, let me add that testers within your organization can use this feature if they have the Microsoft Test and Lab Manager tool.

IntelliTrace historical debugging in Visual Studio Ultimate

Visual Studio has an amazing new debugging feature called IntelliTrace. This feature is only available in the Ultimate edition of Visual Studio. So if you don't have that version, you will not be able to follow along with this demonstration. Now normally, I wouldn't show you features from the Ultimate edition as we are targeting the Premium edition for this series, but this feature is very interesting from a developer's perspective, and I thought it was worth a look. Also, let me add that testers within your organization can use this feature if they have the Microsoft Test and Lab Manager tool.

So, what is IntelliTrace? IntelliTrace acts like a debugging recorder. While you are in a debugging session, it is saving information about the debugger state as you go. Later, you can look back at this historical data and replay the previous debugging session. To demonstrate this, I'm going to use this program called DebuggingWithIntellitrace. And I need to set up a couple of settings inside Visual Studio before I continue. They are over here in Tools > Options, and then in the IntelliTrace section.

First, let's look in the General area. In Visual Studio, by default, IntelliTrace is enabled. Normally, it is set to this IntelliTrace events only. I've changed it to this second option down here. If you change to the second option, you're going to have to restart Visual Studio. If you choose the first option, that means tracing when you enter break mode and storing individual steps while you're debugging. If you choose the second option, you will store information about each function call, including the parameter information and values returned from the call.

The second option we want to look at is in Advanced. This is the location where my recordings are stored. I'm going to copy this information, and then I'm going to click OK. I'm going to go over to my Windows Explorer, and I'm going to navigate to that location. You need to be cautious about storing files here because they are often deleted when you close Visual Studio. You can see there's already one trace in here. I'm going to come back here and copy this trace in a few minutes. Now, let's go do some debugging.

I'm going to switch to Visual Studio, I'm going to open this Program.cs file, and you see I have a normal Visual Studio breakpoint in there. I'm going to press F5 to debug my application, I hit my breakpoint, and immediately you see there's something new happening inside Visual Studio. Over here is a IntelliTrace replay toolbar. So, what I can do is press F11 or F10 to step through a few lines of code, and then I can click on this Go To Previous Call and look at where I was a few seconds ago in my debugging session.

And then I can return to the Live mode by clicking here. Now it's recording these steps in that IntelliTrace file. So let's record a few more steps. I'm going to spawn another worker thread to do some work. I'm going to ask for your name, and we're going to read the line. It's going to prompt me for the name, I'm going to type in "Joe", and I'll come down here and decide that I want to rerun that code. So I'm going to grab this yellow marker and drag it up and rerun those lines of code. Again, I'm pressing F10 to rerun those lines of code. And then I'm going to press F5 to finish the application.

So, at this point, I have a recording in that folder. I'll go back and look in the folder. Here is the file I just created, and I'm going to copy this and paste it to my Desktop. As you can see, I have a few copies here. Now, here's where it becomes powerful. Imagine for a second that you've gone home, had a nice three-day weekend, you come back to work, and there is a bug that you need to look at. It's in this application we've been working on, this debugging with IntelliTrace. So you load that in, and then you go out to your hard drive and you take this recording file and you load it into Visual Studio.

I can just double-click on this iTrace file to do that. What you see is a summary of all the things that were happening inside that application. It shows that I had several threads running, and then I can also get information about the system that was under test. Here is the system information about this computer. I can see I'm on a quad-core machine. And then down here, I can find that information about what was loaded into the memory at the moment. So there's two files down here: mscorlib.dll and DebuggingWithIntellitrace.exe.

Now, let me show you where the power really happens. I can go into this Thread List and pick my Main Thread and then choose Start Debugging. Now realize, I haven't started a debugger yet. I've just been sitting inside Visual Studio. I'm going to click Start Debugging, and it pulls my historical data out of that file and shows what happened, the last step in that debugging session. Now, I'm going to load a new window over here from the Debug menu. It's called IntelliTrace > IntelliTrace Events.

This shows every step that was recorded during that process. So what I can do is double-click on one of these steps to take me back to that location, just a single click. I can look at the Call Stack, the Local variables, a lot of information about what was happening as the tester or the developer is walking through the code. And you remember what I did earlier? I repeated my steps. I went here, and then I went back up to a line of code and re-ran that line of code again. So you can see that rewind happening there. I can also hover over these variables and see the data that was stored in there historically, remember.

So, if I go back here, it's null. I'll run this line of code and then hover over this, and there is the previous version of that variable. This is really an amazing feature. Can you imagine your testers filing a bug and attaching the IntelliTrace file to that report? Now you can run their trace on your computer and see the state of every thread running on their computer at the time of failure. This has to be my favorite debugging feature, and I think its well worth the investment.

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This video is part of

Image for Visual Studio 2010 Essential Training
Visual Studio 2010 Essential Training

86 video lessons · 31861 viewers

Walt Ritscher
Author

 
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  1. 2m 3s
    1. Welcome
      1m 2s
    2. Using the exercise files
      1m 1s
  2. 7m 19s
    1. Understanding the Visual Studio versions
      3m 51s
    2. Setting up your developer computer
      3m 28s
  3. 58m 2s
    1. Creating a Visual Studio project
      4m 58s
    2. Working with Solution Explorer
      6m 32s
    3. Working with big projects
      3m 53s
    4. Taking a tour of the Integrated Developer Environment (IDE)
      8m 36s
    5. Introducing drag-and-drop UI design
      7m 38s
    6. Working with the Properties window
      6m 44s
    7. Looking at Server Explorer
      7m 4s
    8. Exploring the new Help engine
      6m 41s
    9. Setting options for the IDE
      5m 56s
  4. 39m 25s
    1. Creating a simple WPF application
      1m 32s
    2. Building the UI with the editors
      9m 14s
    3. Working with the application code
      3m 37s
    4. Communicating with the web site
      7m 15s
    5. Connecting your data
      8m 4s
    6. Binding to an RSS feed
      5m 4s
    7. Packaging and deploying the application
      4m 39s
  5. 39m 46s
    1. What languages are supported in Visual Studio 2010?
      1m 17s
    2. Exploring basic settings for the Code Editor
      5m 35s
    3. Writing a C# program
      6m 48s
    4. Writing a VB program
      6m 29s
    5. Working with C++
      6m 38s
    6. Working with F Sharp
      6m 9s
    7. Font and color options
      6m 50s
  6. 1h 5m
    1. Formatting your code
      6m 43s
    2. Navigating your code
      7m 44s
    3. Using the Task List
      2m 26s
    4. Commenting your code
      2m 45s
    5. Documenting your code
      8m 26s
    6. Using IntelliSense effectively
      7m 0s
    7. Working with code snippets
      6m 25s
    8. Refactoring your code
      5m 15s
    9. Understanding code generation
      2m 10s
    10. Generating code with T4
      6m 29s
    11. Using the Class View, Class Designer, and Class Diagram tools
      5m 51s
    12. Refactoring VB with CodeRush Xpress
      4m 33s
  7. 1h 11m
    1. Working with project and item templates
      8m 38s
    2. Creating a console application
      7m 5s
    3. Creating a class library
      6m 26s
    4. Creating a web site with ASP.NET
      7m 37s
    5. Creating a rich internet application with Silverlight
      6m 57s
    6. Creating a classic Windows application with Windows Forms
      10m 31s
    7. Creating a dramatic Windows application with Windows Presentation Foundation (WPF)
      4m 41s
    8. Creating a WCF service
      9m 1s
    9. Using an existing WCF service
      6m 38s
    10. Navigation UI designs with the Document Outline view
      3m 41s
  8. 33m 18s
    1. Creating a data project with SQL Project
      6m 24s
    2. Clarifying the confusion on .NET Data
      3m 31s
    3. Using ADO.NET in your application
      6m 50s
    4. Creating typed datasets
      7m 55s
    5. Using the data binding tools
      8m 38s
  9. 30m 13s
    1. Debugging code
      9m 32s
    2. Working with the Watch and other debug windows
      7m 46s
    3. Other debugging techniques
      6m 50s
    4. IntelliTrace historical debugging in Visual Studio Ultimate
      6m 5s
  10. 17m 56s
    1. Understanding Visual Studio editions and test tools
      2m 22s
    2. Verifying your code with unit tests
      8m 58s
    3. Running performance and load tests
      6m 36s
  11. 34m 5s
    1. Building your application
      4m 19s
    2. Customizing the build process with MSBuild
      6m 36s
    3. Setting assembly information
      2m 12s
    4. Deploying a basic Windows application
      2m 19s
    5. Creating an installer with Visual Studio
      7m 39s
    6. Creating a ClickOnce application
      5m 13s
    7. Setting up IIS for deploy
      2m 9s
    8. Deploying a Silverlight or ASP.NET application
      3m 38s
  12. 14m 0s
    1. Understanding source control
      2m 9s
    2. Setting up Team Foundation Server source control
      3m 5s
    3. Using Team Foundation Server source control
      8m 46s
  13. 17m 31s
    1. Understanding the .NET Office integration
      4m 16s
    2. Making a Word 2010 application
      7m 54s
    3. Making an Excel 2010 add-in
      5m 21s
  14. 31m 34s
    1. Understanding the extensibility model in Visual Studio
      2m 17s
    2. Adding external tools to the Tools menu
      4m 42s
    3. Creating macros
      7m 16s
    4. Using the Extension Manager
      5m 1s
    5. Creating an MEF add-in
      7m 9s
    6. Deploying and installing an add-in with VSIX
      5m 9s
  15. 25m 34s
    1. Working with configuration files
      5m 37s
    2. Using the Settings Editor
      7m 30s
    3. Using the Resources Editor
      6m 59s
    4. Localizing your resources
      5m 28s
  16. 1m 17s
    1. Goodbye
      1m 17s

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