Sunday, June 18, 2006

VS 2003 Property Expansion in Debugger Windows Bug

I found a solution on the web to an obscure bug in VS 2003, and since the solution was many Google pages deep I thought I'd post it here.

People working with VS 2003 solutions with multiple projects sometimes encounter a bug where the property expansion of objects viewed in the debugger windows no longer works. The object may or may not have a plus sign when viewed in the Watches, QuickWatch, or Locals window, but if you click the plus sign, it merely disappears. The properties of the object are not displayed and there is no easy way to inspect them. This seriously impairs the debugger's usefulness as a tool.

The root cause of this is having a project in your solution that doesn't have any classes. Build projects and catchall projects with non-code items often fit the bill. Adding a dummy class -- just a skeletal declaration -- makes the problem go away.

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