Thomas Sampson


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Linking Debug Traces to Source Code

Today I discovered a nice little feature involving the Microsoft Visual Studio output window.

When emitting debug trace information from your application (using OutputDebugString), you can format your output string in such a way that when it is double-clicked in the output window, it jumps your code editor to the spot where it originated. The format which supports this feature is as follows:

%ABSOLUTE_FILE_PATH%(%LINE_NUMBER$): %MESSAGE%

So for example:

“C:/TextureManager.cpp(50): [TextureManager] Texture loaded!”

I often find myself copying a line from the output window and using CTRL+SHIFT+F (Find In File) to locate it’s origin. This is a nice way to get around that long winded process and provide a direct link to the file and line. You can of-course use the __FILE__ and __LINE__ pre-processor macros here to automatically format all your debug traces in this way.

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