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A great clash of symbols

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Slides from a presentation on managing Windows debugging symbols files.

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A great clash of symbols

  1. 1. A Great Clash of Symbols Managing and Using Symbol Files for .NET Applications Presented by Gregory M. Sohl
  2. 2. Agenda Symbols Visual Studio Symbol Usage Other Tools Symbol Usage Places to Store Symbols Keeping Symbols with NuGet Packages
  3. 3. Symbols Produced by .NET compilers Stored in PDB files Contain – much less than for native  Source file names  Line # references  Local variable names  Only the info that is not already contained in managed assemblies
  4. 4. Symbol File Creation Created at compile time A unique GUID is embedded with each compile  In the assembly  In the PDB Mismatched assembly + PDB
  5. 5. Kinds of Symbol Files Private / Debug  Debug Info = full  Full debugging experience Public  Debug Info = pdb-only  Examine stack traces, dumps, Intellitrace Generally, don’t do “full” for release builds due to performance hit
  6. 6. Keeping Symbol Files Symbols are as important as source!  Use with dumps from QA/production  Use with Intellitrace from QA/production Without matching Symbols files, working with either much more difficult
  7. 7. What to Keep Local developer builds? Builds released to QA? Builds released to production? Builds released to customers?
  8. 8. How VS Finds Symbols It uses a search path  Folder relative to the binary c:MyDirsymbolsdll c:MyDirdll c:MyDir Configured paths, cache and Symbol Server  Environment Variable: _NT_SYMBOL_PATH  Tools / Options / Debugging / Symbols List of Search Paths
  9. 9. Supported Search Paths Local drives Network drives Symbol server  Ex. srv*http://msdl.microsoft.com/download/symbols Local cache (highly recommended)  Ex. cache*c:MySymbols;
  10. 10. Simple Search Path Setup in VS
  11. 11. DEMO VS DEBUGGING
  12. 12. Other Tools Symbol Usage WinDbg / SOS – Low level debugger Intellitrace – Runtime event recorder
  13. 13. Keeping Your Symbols Application & Library Symbols  Store them with your release on a file share  Copy them back into place as needed for debugging
  14. 14. Keeping Your Symbols Put them on a Symbol Server  symstore – part of the Windows SDK Reference stored symbols via file path  SymbolSource.Server.Basic http interface to symstore Stores NuGet packages & symbols bit.ly/SymbolSourceServerBasic  NuPeek Stores NuGet packages & symbols https://bitbucket.org/thinkbeforecoding/nupeek
  15. 15. Keeping Your Symbols TFS Build System  Can store source, binaries and symbols  Good blog post: http://bit.ly/TFSSourceSymbols
  16. 16. My Goal Move from CruiseControl.NET to TFS Builds Use TFS Build Management  For Binaries Symbols  On All QA Builds with retention for 2-3 months All Release Builds with retention as long as they are in use.

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