Some general debugging tips

Here are some general ‘tips & tricks’ which proofed to be useful over the last years.

KISS: Keep It Simple and Stupid

Try to reduce the problem by building a sample application. With the new ‘AppWizard’ it does take less
than a minute to build a running MFC application! So whenever you encounter a problem or start programming
in a new area (like ‘OLE automation’ or ‘owner drawed controls’) build a new test appliction. There you
can fool around and the rebuilds are fast!

Use the ‘Debug Windows’

There are 6 Debug Windows in the IDE aside from ‘Variables’ and ‘Watch’ the ‘Call Stack’ and the ‘Memory’
window are the ones I use the most.

If you set your breakpoints smart the ‘Call Stack’ will give you
a exellent view of when and where your methods are called and what paramter are used.

You don’t have to be an assembler wizard to make use of the ‘Memory’ Window. Most time I use
it to watch some values which are not shown completly in the ‘Watch Window’

Try the context menus on the ‘Debug Windows’ (right mouse click) they have some nice features!

Use all available resources

There are tons of useful information available. The one I use the most is the MSDN CD
(Microsoft Developer Network). These 2 CDs are published quarterly by Microsoft and contain a lot of
excellent examples and technical information.

You can search the same knowledge base on the web: But sometimes it takes quite some time to get an search result…so I prefer the CDs!

To get more information about MSDN go to:

There are a lot of other useful sites on the net, check them out. Many have a discussion board and free source!

Chances are good that somebody out there solved the same problem before. Don’t try to reinvent the world!

A good place to start is the ‘Links’ – page on this site.

Read, read, read

There are many magazines and to many books regarding MFC/MSVC/Win32. Some of them are excellent and others
but a lot aren’t worth the paper! Check your local bookstore and those on the web!

(Maybe Zafir will setup a new section on this site with book reviews…)

To get the latest on debugging check John Robbins ‘Bugslayer’- column in the ‘Microsoft System Journal’ at

He is an expert on debugging and he also shares tips in his column some of them you can find in this section.

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