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Why isn't Visual Studio's QuickWatch smarter?

May 13

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Wednesday, May 13, 2009 9:21 PM  RssIcon

Have you ever noticed QuickWatch is dumb?  Please read on for my rant on why QuickWatch needs just one little, itty, bitty tweak to make PERFECT!

Hopefully you know VS can debug your applications?!  Riiiiiiiiight?  haha  Ok, next, you know you can hit F5 to "debug into" your app right?  Well, when you hit F9 to setup a breakpoint, I hope you also know you can "interrogate" your variable values using a feature called QuickWatch (highlight the variable/method you want to peek into and hit SHIFT+F9).  You'll see something like this, when I highlight the whole age.ToString() then hit SHIFT+F9, I can see the value.

Quick watch showing value of age.ToString()

And that's fantastic!  But my complaint is, why can't VS just figure out when I put my cursor in the middle of the ToString() method call, THAT'S what I want to see in the QuickWatch?!

What do I mean?  When I try it, I place my cursor in the middle of the "To" and "String()" without selecting anything.  To me, it's pretty self-evident I want to see the value of the ToString() method call.  BUUUUUUUT to VS, it seems to be pretty ambiguous.

Quick watch doesn't auto select anything let alone the method I want to see the value for

But it's not ambiguous, AND EVEN IF IT IS AMBIGUOUS!!!!!!!!!!  Just give me something!!!!  I can see the Expression field and the Name column, and if VS automagicaly picks something incorrect, I can quickly see what its picked and either go change the expression here, or go back and highlight what I want. 

I want VS to work this way 95% of the time, I just put my cursor in the middle of the variable/method call/property I want to see and VS just figures it out!  It can do all the other intellisense, reformatting, background compiling, SURELY it can automagically figure out what I want to debug!

Now that my rants over, it's time to grab a coffee and get back to coding!

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2 comment(s) so far...


Re: Why isn't Visual Studio's QuickWatch smarter?

Hi there.

I definitely share your frustration about this problem in the way QuickWatch works! I created a commercial extension to Visual Studio called "BugAid" that replaces the original QuickWatch with one that is more easy to work with, and one of the things that are different when you use BugAid's QuickWatch, is that the problem you were ranting about in this blog post goes away :).

If you'd like, please try the beta version and let me know what you think!

By Omer Raviv on   Friday, October 07, 2011 1:27 PM

Re: Why isn't Visual Studio's QuickWatch smarter?

Hi Omer, very cool that you found my blog about this exact problem you fixed! Sweet! I would love to check it out, unfortunately I'm swamped with work at the moment. Both good (I'm lucky to be working, I know that, but not so good cause there's little extra bandwidth for extra stuff, including blogging as of late :( ). I will certainly let you know though when I come up for air! Thank you again for your comment and good luck with your debugging tool! PS If you're interested in sharing it to a wider audience, I would highly recommend Microsoft user community groups (like the ODNC which I help out with). They are full of people chomping at the bit for new stuff to play with. Try it out!

By Peter Henry on   Monday, October 10, 2011 9:08 AM

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