Debug-Developing a CSharp Console Application

One of my old computer science professors, back in the days, used to say, if you use a debugger while you are writing your code, you are a bad programmer. My, oh my. What an idiot. It makes perfect sense to utilize a debugger as you proceed in completing your program. It’s a simple variant of divide and conquer. Let’s make sure one part does work, before we move on to the next. So, you see, I really value my debugger.

Many small tools I write are simple console applications. I do like graphical user interfaces a lot. And I prefer a graphical user interface over a command line interface any time. But for some small tools, especially ones which do not even require any interaction, setting up a graphical user interface is just too much work. So, even so it really is very old-school, console applications are often the right choice.

This brings us to developing console applications and utilizing the debugger. Visual Studio has a very nice feature for this scenario, when working with c++: it keeps the console window open and reuses it. At first this might seem useless. I know a lot of people which just close the window every time their application stops. But there is a clear and huge benefit from this function: since the console window stays open, you can inspect you application’s output for as long as you like without having to keep the debugger attached or starting your application in a separate console. This actually is really handy.

For csharp console applications, however, this feature does not exist. I really do not know why. And, I hope the Microsoft will deliver this feature soon for csharp applications as well. But for now, csharp has this horrible behavior that the console window closes as soon as the application exits. And this brings us back into the past, where we need some mechanism to keep the window open. One possibility is to utilize the debugger, which is attached anyway, to pause the application. I don’t want to do this using “normal” break points, as I use break points to do actual debugging. Meaning, I often delete all break points, and then only set those I need. Having to take care for some “special” break points would be a pain in the … well, you know.

Luckily, we can break the debugger by code. Whipping up some utility class, I got this here:

static class DebugHelper
{
  [Conditional("DEBUG"), MethodImpl(MethodImplOptions.AggressiveInlining), DebuggerHidden]
  static public void Break()
  {
    bool launch;
    var env = Environment.GetEnvironmentVariable("LAUNCH_DEBUGGER_IF_NOT_ATTACHED");
    if (!bool.TryParse(env, out launch))
      launch = false;
    if (launch || Debugger.IsAttached)
    {
      if (Debugger.IsAttached || Debugger.Launch())
        Debugger.Break();
    }
  }
}

Now, I can just call DebugHelper.Break(); anywhere I like.

They are removed in release builds. And the aggressive optimization removes the helper function from the stack, so that the debugger always breaks at the call of my helper function, and not within.

For now, this is handy. And, I really hope, that in the near future this will be obsolete.

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NuGet Packages for unstable, in-development Libraries – cont. (III)

Previously, I wrote about using one global msbuild xml file to override nuget package content for local development. While this does work, it comes with a warning if multiple packages use this mechanism:

***Test\packages\***.0.7.1-prerelease-\build\native\***.targets(7,5):
warning MSB4011: "***Test\packagesoverride.xml.user" cannot be imported again. It was already imported at "***Test\packages\***.0.7.1-prerelease-\build\native\***.targets (6,3)".
This is most likely a build authoring error. This subsequent import will be ignored. [***Test\***Test.vcxproj]

While this is not realy a problem, it is a warning. And I don’t like warning. I like my projects to build entirly without warnings.

A soltion for this comes from classic c++ programming: use an include guard. These are the changes required:

The packagesoverride.xml.user must define a default variable. I named it HAS_packagesoverride:

<?xml version="1.0" encoding="utf-8"?>
<Project ToolsVersion="15.0" xmlns="http://schemas.microsoft.com/developer/msbuild/2003">
  <PropertyGroup>
    <HAS_packagesoverride>True</HAS_packagesoverride>
    <NugetDevPackageTest_testLib_DevDir>C:\Dev\SomeProject\Dir</NugetDevPackageTest_testLib_DevDir>
  </PropertyGroup>
</Project>

And now importing this xml in the nuget packages’ target files can this for this variable to avoid multiple import:

<?xml version="1.0" encoding="utf-8"?>
<Project ToolsVersion="4.0" xmlns="http://schemas.microsoft.com/developer/msbuild/2003" InitialTargets="FaroMorfCopySymbols">

  <!-- Import override settings, if they exist -->
  <ImportGroup>
    <Import
      Condition="Exists('$(SolutionDir)packagesoverride.xml.user') and '$(HAS_packagesoverride)' != 'True'"
      Project="$(SolutionDir)packagesoverride.xml.user" />
  </ImportGroup>

<!-- ... -->

 

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NuGet Packages for unstable, in-development Libraries – cont. (II)

Previously, I wrote about using NuGet for software components, which are still in active development. One of the most important factors was the capability to override the nuget package’s content with content fetched from a directory, e.g., a working copy clone. The key element for this was a MSBuild variable NugetDevPackageTest_testLib_DevDir.

The original plan was to edit this variable using a project property page. While having a UI is nice, this has proven not to work on larger projects. The reason is simple: in larger projects, we talk about a vs solution with multiple vc projects, and many of these projects might reference our NuGet package. If we now need to switch to our local directory, we need to adjust the project properties for every project consuming the package. This is tiring and error prone. Forget to adjust just one project and you might end up with inconsistent builds. Therefore, I was seeking a more centralized configuration.

Update 2019-03-02

I updated the code examples to reflect the updates I recently came up with.

Dev. Override – II

The principle idea of having a variable to control the override remains valid. The targets in your nuget might look like this:

<?xml version="1.0" encoding="utf-8"?>
<Project ToolsVersion="4.0" xmlns="http://schemas.microsoft.com/developer/msbuild/2003">

  <!-- ... -->

  <!-- Compiler settings: defines and includes -->
  <ItemDefinitionGroup Condition="'$(NugetDevPackageTest_testLib_DevDir)' == ''">
    <ClCompile>
      <PreprocessorDefinitions>HAS_NUGETDEVPACKAGETEST_TESTLIB;%(PreprocessorDefinitions)</PreprocessorDefinitions>
      <AdditionalIncludeDirectories>$(MSBuildThisFileDirectory)include\;%(AdditionalIncludeDirectories)</AdditionalIncludeDirectories>
    </ClCompile>
  </ItemDefinitionGroup>
  <ItemDefinitionGroup Condition="'$(NugetDevPackageTest_testLib_DevDir)' != ''">
    <ClCompile>
      <PreprocessorDefinitions>HAS_NUGETDEVPACKAGETEST_TESTLIB;HAS_NUGETDEVPACKAGETEST_TESTLIB_DEVDIR;%(PreprocessorDefinitions)</PreprocessorDefinitions>
      <AdditionalIncludeDirectories>$(NugetDevPackageTest_testLib_DevDir)\Project\include\;%(AdditionalIncludeDirectories)</AdditionalIncludeDirectories>
    </ClCompile>
  </ItemDefinitionGroup>

  <!-- ... -->

</Project>

The obvious question is the definition of our DevDir variable.

For this is propose a central msbuild xml at the level of the vs solution!

We include it in our targets file, right after the root Project tag starts:

<ImportGroup>
  <Import Project="$(SolutionDir)packagesoverride.xml.user" Condition="Exists('$(SolutionDir)packagesoverride.xml.user') and '$(HAS_packagesoverride)' != 'True'" />
</ImportGroup>

This line imports the msbuild xml file, if it exists. Notice, how the file name is generic and not related to our specific package. This is because multiple nuget packages can share this file!

The content of this central configuration is very simple:

<?xml version="1.0" encoding="utf-8"?>
<Project ToolsVersion="15.0" xmlns="http://schemas.microsoft.com/developer/msbuild/2003">
  <PropertyGroup>
    <HAS_packagesoverride>True</HAS_packagesoverride>
    <NugetDevPackageTest_testLib_DevDir>C:\Dev\SomeProject\Dir</NugetDevPackageTest_testLib_DevDir>
  </PropertyGroup>
</Project>

Now if you need to override a nuget package for your whole solution, just create this file!

Drawback 1: If the file did not exist previously, an you create it, then you need to rebuild all projects with nugets referencing this package. Because they might be affected by this file.

However, once the file does exist, changes to the file are currectly and automatically detected by visual studio, and build operations are correctly triggered in the affected projects. So, it might be a nice idea to keep a file with an empty property group in place, just in case.

If you need to override multiple nugets at once, just add multiple entries into this one property group.

Drawback 2: There is no UI. So you need to edit it in your favorite text editor, meaning, you are prone to all typing errors you can come up with.

All in all, I believe this central file for the nuget override configuration is an improvement.

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I like Shields.io

I am a visual guy. That means I like all kinds of visual representations of abstract data. And so, of course, I also like all those fancy little badges available all over the internet. It is only a logical conclusion that I use those as well.

Shields.io provides nice badges for source code related stuff. And so, without further ado, visual summary of all nuget packages I maintain:

 glfw
 glm
 lua
AntTweakBar
voro++
 teamcity-gtest-streamer

Sticking to Legacy?

Time to reblog another of my all-time-favorites from xkcd: tar

I don’t know what’s worse–the fact that after 15 years of using tar I still can’t keep the flags straight, or that after 15 years of technological advancement I’m still mucking with tar flags that were 15 years old when I started.

There are plent of tools, which are still used today, athough they were crap from the start. I know, this example here is mocking Nix. But there are plenty of similar examples in the MS Windows ecosystem as well.

I am not mocking those tools. I am mocking the people who advertise to use those tools!

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Serverumzug

Ich habe meinen alten Webhoster hinter mir gelassen und meine Webseite umgezogen.

Das war jetzt dringend nötig.

Ich hab auch das WordPress aktualisiert. Nun scheint das Plugin für mehrsprachige Posts nicht mehr richtig mit dem Editor zu funktionieren. Naja. Das ist ein Problem für ein anderes Mal.

SpringerJagd Discontinued

I will not continue with my game idea project “SpringerJagd”.

That project simply got the short end as I was prioritizing all my projects. A pitty, but it is better that way. Now I have more time I can direct to my other projects. And, I will write about those here soon. With “soon”, I mean within a few months or so.

Beautify HtmlAgilityPack

HtmlAgilityPackAs can be read on the internet: HtmlAgilityPack is not for beautiful, aka human readable, html files.

“[…] it’s a ‘by design’ choice.” [https://stackoverflow.com/a/5969074]

So everyone redirects you to some other library.

Now, I am a bit stubborn. I want to use HtmlAgilityPack and I want to have indented, human-readable html files. The magic is within text nodes in the DOM. So, I wrote two utility functions to help me out.

First, to get rid of all unwanted whitespaces. This one might be a bit aggressiv, but it was ok for me:

static private void removeWhitespace(HtmlNode node) {
  foreach (HtmlNode n in node.ChildNodes.ToArray()) {
    if (n.NodeType == HtmlNodeType.Text) {
      if (string.IsNullOrWhiteSpace(n.InnerHtml)) {
        node.RemoveChild(n);
      }
    } else removeWhitespace(n);
  }
}

And, second, to create white spaces for line breaks and indentions:

internal static void beautify(HtmlDocument doc) {
  foreach (var topNode in doc.DocumentNode.ChildNodes.ToArray()) {
    switch (topNode.NodeType) {
      case HtmlNodeType.Comment: {
          HtmlCommentNode cn = (HtmlCommentNode)topNode;
          if (string.IsNullOrEmpty(cn.Comment)) continue;
          if (!cn.Comment.EndsWith("\n")) cn.Comment += "\n";
        } break;
      case HtmlNodeType.Element: {
          beautify(topNode, 0);
          topNode.AppendChild(doc.CreateTextNode("\n"));
          //doc.DocumentNode.InsertAfter(doc.CreateTextNode("\n"), topNode);
        } break;
      case HtmlNodeType.Text:
        break;
      default:
        break;
    }
  }
}

private static bool beautify(HtmlNode node, int level) {
  if (!node.HasChildNodes) return false;

  var children = node.ChildNodes.ToArray();
  bool onlyText = true;
  foreach (var c in children) {
    if (c.NodeType != HtmlNodeType.Text) onlyText = false;
  }
  if (onlyText) return false;

  string nli = "\n" + new string('\t', level);

  foreach (var c in children) {
    node.InsertBefore(node.OwnerDocument.CreateTextNode(nli), c);
    if (c.NodeType == HtmlNodeType.Element) {
      if (c.HasChildNodes) {
        if (beautify(c, level + 1)) {
          c.AppendChild(c.OwnerDocument.CreateTextNode(nli));
        }
      }
    }
  }
  return true;
}

As you might see, the code is pretty hacky. But, it works for me. Maybe, it also works for you, or it can be a starting point.

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Another Nuget: TeamCity GoogleTest Streamer

And here is another Nuget package:

https://bitbucket.org/sgrottel_nuget/teamcity-gtest-streamer

https://www.nuget.org/packages/teamcity-gtest-streamer

A small library for better integration of GoogleTest into TeamCity. It’s actually a single header-only file library. But it still has a nuget for easy integration and update.

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GLM 0.9.9 NuGet

GLM is a nice, lean, good math library for OpenGL. It’s header-only. Does a NuGet package make sense anyway? I say “Yes”. The simple usage and the clean versioning make up for the minimal additional overhead.

I am now also helping in maintaining the GLM Nuget package. And I updated the package to version 0.9.9.

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