Handy ASP.NET Debug Extension Method

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Most of the programmers I know (myself included) don’t bother with the built in Visual Studio debugging tools. They are slow and resource intensive. Usually, its more efficient to just do one or more Response.Write calls to see key data at key steps.

That can be a hassle, though. Most objects don’t print very well. You have to create a loop or write some LINQ/String.Join to write items in a collection.

Inspiration struck – couldn’t I write an extension method on object to write out a reasonable representation of pretty much anything? I could write out html tables for lists with columns for properties, etc.

Then I thought – I love the javascript debug console in firebug. I can drill down into individual items without being overwhelmed by all of the data at once. Why not have my debug information spit out javascript to write to the debug console? That also keeps it out of the way of the rest of the interface.

Here’s the code:

public static void Debug(this object value)
        {
            if (HttpContext.Current != null)
            {
                HttpContext.Current.Response.Debug(value);
            }

        }

        public static void Debug(this HttpResponse Response, params object[] args)
        {

            new HttpResponseWrapper(Response).Debug(args);
        }
        public static void Debug(this HttpResponseBase Response, params object[] args)
        {

            ((HttpResponseWrapper)Response).Debug(args);
        }
        public static void Debug(this HttpResponseWrapper Response, params object[] args)
        {

            if (Response != null && Response.ContentType == "text/html")
            {
                Response.Write("<script type='text/javascript'>");
                Response.Write("if(console&&console.debug){");

                Response.Write("console.debug(" +
                              args.SerializeToJSON() +
                               ");");
                Response.Write("}");
                Response.Write("</script>");
            }
        }

The various overloads allow:

myObject.Debug();
new {message="test",obj=myObject}.Debug();
Response.Debug("some message",myObject,myObject2);
//etc

The only other thing you’ll need is the awesome JSON.NET library for the .SerializeToJSON() call to work (which turns the .NET object into the form javascript can deal with). Get it here. FYI, the library does choke serializing some complex objects, so occasionally you’ll need to simplify before calling debug.

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