Graphical Debugging Aid for Chromium Views


A simple debugging tool exists to help visualize the views tree during debugging. It consists of 4 components:

  1. The function View::PrintViewGraph() (already in the file if you‘ve sync’d recently),
  2. a gdb script file viewg.gdb (see below),
  3. the graphViz package ( - downloadable for Linux, Windows and Mac), and
  4. an SVG viewer (e.g. Chrome).


To use the tool,

  1. Make sure you have ‘dot’ installed (part of graphViz),
  2. define TOUCH_DEBUG and compile chrome with Views enabled,
  3. run gdb on your build and
  4. source viewg.gdb (this can be done automatically in .gdbinit),
  5. stop at any breakpoint inside class View (or any derived class), and
  6. type viewg at the gdb prompt.

This will cause the current view, and any descendants, to be described in a graph which is stored as ~/state.svg (Windows users may need to modify the script slightly to run under CygWin). If state.svg is kept open in a browser window and refreshed each time viewg is run, then it provides a graphical representation of the state of the views hierarchy that is always up to date.

It is easy to modify the gdb script to generate PDF in case viewing with evince (or other PDF viewer) is preferred.

If you don't use gdb, you may be able to adapt the script to work with your favorite debugger. The gdb script invokes


on the current object, returning std::string, whose contents must then be saved to a file in order to be processed by dot.


define viewg
  if $argc != 0
    echo Usage: viewg
    set pagination off
    set print elements 0
    set logging off
    set logging file ~/
    set logging overwrite on
    set logging redirect on
    set logging on
    printf "%s\n", this->PrintViewGraph(true).c_str()
    set logging off
    shell dot -Tsvg -o ~/state.svg ~/
    set pagination on