Running an application in the Debugger

As discussed earlier, there are several ways to start your application. Starting the application launches a series of events. First, Visual Studio looks for any modified files and saves those files automatically. It then verifies the build status of your solution and rebuilds any project that does not have an updated binary, including dependencies. Finally, it initiates a separate process space and starts your application with the Visual Studio debugger attached to that process.

When your application is running, the look and feel of Visual Studio's IDE changes, with different windows and button bars becoming visible (see Figure 1-26). While your code remains visible, the IDE displays additional windows — by default, the Immediate Window appears in the same location as the Output Window as a new tabbed window. Others, such as the Call Stack, Locals, and Watch windows, may also be displayed over time as you work with the debugger. (Not all of these windows are available to users of Visual Studio Express Edition.) These windows are used by the debugger for reviewing the current value of variables within your code.

FiGURE 1-26

The true power of the Visual Studio debugger is its interactive debugging. To demonstrate this, with your application running, select Visual Studio as the active window. Change your display to the Forml.vb Code view (not Design view) and click in the border alongside the line of code you added to increment the count when the button is clicked. Doing this creates a breakpoint on the selected line (refer to Figure 1-26). Return to your application and then click the "Hello World" button. Visual Studio takes the active focus, returning you to the code window, and the line with your breakpoint is now selected.

Visual Studio 2010 introduces a new window that is located in the same set of tabs as the Solution Explorer. As shown in Figure 1-26, the IntelliTrace window tracks your actions as you work with the application in Debug mode. Figure 1-27 focuses on this new feature available to the Ultimate edition of Visual Studio. Sometimes referred to as historical debugging, the IntelliTrace window provides a history of how you got to a given state.

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