tree: a5d4fac1b539fa70797a3236e5f6c88d5b937100 [path history] [tgz]
  1. BUILD.gn
  2. README.md
  3. blink.natvis
  4. chrome.natvis
tools/win/DebugVisualizers/README.md

This directory contains “natvis” (Native Visualization) files, that provide custom views in the Visual Studio debugger. The official Natvis documentation is located at Create custom views of C++ objects in the debugger using the Natvis framework.

We have not found a good way to automate testing these files. The following process is recommended before updating these files.

Preparations

These files are embedded in .lib, .dll, or .exe so that the debugger can use them without referring to the original .natvis files.

When you edit them, you can run a full build to update all of them, but following steps will help to avoid the full build, and to benefit from Visual Studio's dynamic reloading feature.

  1. Comment out the .natvis you want to edit in BUILD.gn. You can find them by Chromium Code Search.
  2. Create a directory “Visual Studio 2019\Visualizers” in your Documents folder if it does not exist.
  3. Copy the .natvis files you want to edit to the directory.

With these steps done, if you save the .natvis files in your Documents folder while you are debugging, Visual Studio will automatically reload them, run diagnostic and show messages to Output window if any, and update Auto/Local/Watch windows without stopping the current debug session.

Diagnostic

  1. Go to Tools - Options, Debugging, Output Window. Select “Warning” for “Natvis diagnostic messages (C++ only)”.

With this set, Visual Studio shows diagnostic warning and error messages to the Output window when it reads .natvis files.

Testing

It is recommended to do at least following tests before updating these files.

  1. Enable the diagnostic warnings above.
  2. Start the debugger and break somewhere where you can watch variables of the types you're interested.
  3. Check the Output window and verify that there are no errors or warnings for the files you edit.
  4. Check the types you modified are displayed correctly in Auto/Local/Watch windows.
  5. If the type has Condition or IncludeView attributes, they are like “if”-statements. Please make sure that your test function exercises all conditions and views.

If there is not a good test that uses the variables of interest then a test should be created. It can be a test that does nothing except declare the variables of interest (using base::debug::Alias to prevent them from being optimized away). Whether it is a new or existing test it should be listed in the commit message to aid reviewers in doing an actual verification that the changes work. As an example, consider TEST(ValuesTest, TakeList) which is very helpful for testing base::Value visualizers.