BugAid, a Visual Studio debugger add-on. A quick review.

 

bugaid

 

I spend a lot of development time in Visual Studio (VS) and I am a fan of using any product which increases my productivity and makes my work more fun. That's why I use products like Resharper, Tabs Studio & Mole 2010. These are commercial products I purchased. I also use some free add-ons like RightHand Dataset Visualizer which is the best dataset visualizer around. (Even though it's 35M! The author uses third party components which are packaged into a single dll)

 

Recently I came across a new add-on called BugAid from bugaidsoftware.com. It's an add-on for Visual Studio's debugger inline watch and adds some nice features to it. It's still in beta and this review is based on version 0.5.1206.6134_456.

 

Some of the features which BugAid adds:

  • Star important members. Show properties you're interested in at the top of the watch window including properties from base classes.
  • Create Custom Expressions.
  • Compare variable snapshots. Compare the same variable in two instances of time and see what has changed. This is one of the best features.
  • Quickly attach to processes. I haven't tried this feature yet. I assume this can work when you want to, for example, attach to a certain instance of the internal web server.
  • Search text in all the properties of a variable including its base hierarchy. The search depth in configurable. It adds the search feature to Visual Studio's QuickWatch. The QuickWatch window seems to BugAid's which is made to resemble VS's built-in one. This is useful if you know a certain value exists but you're unsure which property has it.

 

See full descriptions with snapshots of features at their website.

 

PROS:

  • Makes your debugging sessions easier and more productive. Saves you time.
  • Some options are configurable such the search depth and snapshot saving depth.

 

CONS:

  • The other visualizers, like the dataset visualizer, are not visible anymore in the hover watch window. You either have to add the variable to the VS's watch window and access the associated visualizer from there or disable BugAid and revert to VS's window.
  • The hover watch window is not resizable. The columns in the window are not resizable. Because of this, the full text of some property names and their values are not visible.
  • Settings such as custom expressions are lost when Visual Studio closes. I would like to see per-project settings be saved during VS sessions.
  • Some minor bugs.

This is a beta version and the product looks promising. If you do a lot of variable inspections during debugging, this tool might save you quite a bit of time.

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