C#

C# attributes you should know #2: [DebuggerStepThrough] and [DebuggerHidden]

Last time I wrote about C# attribute DebuggerTypeProxy that helps us customize the way we display our type’s data while debugging. Today I would like to introduce you to the world of attributes that helps you skip some parts of code while debugging. Most of the C# programmers probably know them well, but I realized that only a few can tell the differences between them. So, ladies and gentlemen, let me introduce you the DebuggerStepThrough and DebuggerHidden.

[DebuggerStepThrough]

Like the name of this attribute suggests, code decorated with DebuggerStepThrough will be executed but not debugged. Even when you set a breakpoint inside the code block.
You can apply this attribute on:
– Class
– Struct
– Constructor
– Method
Sooo… Now a little puzzle for you 😊. Which of the breakpoint visible on the below screen will be hit?


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Yep! None of them 😊.

Another riddle – what about the below breakpoints? Which one will not be hit?


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You are right, the one in line 24. I know, that was ridiculously easy :P.

But in fact, ‘non-hitable’ breakpoint are always in debugging mode marked with some ‘exclamation mark’ ico, like in the screen below.


As you can see in the yellow message box (screen above), there is one exception in our never-hit-breakpoint rule.
When JMC  is enabled, the breakpoint will be hit, no matter if method/class etc. has [DebuggerStepThrough] attribute or not.

 

[DebuggerHidden]

The second hero of debugging is very similar to the DebuggerStepThrough. Simply speaking – it holds programmers back from debugging the code.
Below is the list of members we can apply [DebuggerHidden] on:
– Contructor
– Method
– Property

At first glance, you will not see any differences but in the next paragraph I want to show you the two of them 😊.

[DebuggerStepThrough] vs [DebuggerHidden]

First of all – you cannot decorate a class or a struct with DebuggerHidden attribute. So we will use it very preciously, exactly on the method we don’t want to be debugged.
Secondly, code decorated with DebuggerStepThrough will be shown in the Call Stack window as ‘external code’. When we replace DebuggerStepThrough with DebuggerHidden, the same code will not be shown in the Call Stack window at all! Let’s look at the example.

We already know the class Car. So below I create an object of this class and then call its’ method DriveThroughMud(). Inside of the method we call another Car’s method – WashIt().
The aim is to disable debugging DriveThroughMud() method.

Car.cs:

 

Below is the example what the Call Stack window will show us if we apply DebuggerStepThrough on DriveThroughMud() method.

And what happens when we apply DebuggerHidden attribute on the same method? Well, the Call Stack will not show us any information about the the caller.

Summary

I hope I showed you the sweetness of another two c# attributes. Enabling programmer hiding the code from debugging is not something you thought attributes are made for, am I right 😉 ?

At the end of this blog post, let me add a side note – personally, I prefer DebuggerStepThrough :). Mostly because of the info shown in the Call Stack  window but also because sometimes I want to exclude from debugging the whole class, not only particular method. And that’s something that cannot be approached with DebuggerHidden.

 

Featured image by unsplash-logoRoman Kraft

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