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Stepping into ASP.NET MVC source code with Visual Studio debugger

Using Visual Studio symbols and source files makes debugging much easier. I am specially happy about ASP.NET MVC 2 source files because I develop on ASP.NET MVC 2 almost every day. You may also find other useful symbols and source files. In this posting I will show you how to get ASP.NET MVC source to your computer and how to use it.

1. Debug options

Open options dialog and make sure you have check boxes set as on following image in red boxes.

debugoptions

2. Download symbols and source

Now we have to allow downloading symbol files. By default the location of symbols is somewhere under application user data folder. I prefer some location on some drive root usually.

debugsymbols

NB! I chose “All modules, unless excluded” to get everything from symbol server. If you need only MVC symbols then choose “Only specified modules” and add System.Web.MVC there (you can also add other modules you need).

After clicking OK you see window like on following image. Make a cup of coffee and wait until symbols are downloaded. It takes a while.

downloadingpublicsymbols

3. Debugging

Open your ASP.NET MVC application, put breakpoint somewhere in code and run it. Wait until code execution hits the breakpoint.

aspnetmvcbreakpoint

When breakpoint is hit click Step-in and Step-over icons to go to some line where some method of ASP.NET MVC is called. On this method click Step-in.

4. Source code download

If ASP.NET MVC source is not there yet then you can see EULA windows like on the following image.

aspnetmvcsourceeula

If you don’t plan to do anything illegal then click Accept button. You may get some warnings about file downloads and UTF-8 encoding. Say Yes and when ASP.NET MVC source is downloaded you can see something like on the following image.

aspnetmvccontrollersource

Well, we are in View() method of controller class. Not bad at all! :)

More symbols

You can find more symbols and source files from Microsoft Reference Source Code Center. For .NET Framework you can find only symbols right now. Hopefully source is also coming soon.

Comments

MisterFantastic said:

Very nice article. Good to know that we can debug the MVC source code.

Thanks,

Thanigainathan.S

# July 14, 2010 7:08 AM