PDB and ClickOnce
December 10, 2009
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Bit of history first. PDB – Program Debug Database is essential sometimes during debugging. By default, stack trace points to the function where problem lies and don’t include line numbers at which errors are thrown. Sometime this becomes quite critical for a serious production issue. Best practice seems to build PDBs during your build process (both Debug / Release), exclude them while creating your installers, and ship them to production when you need to diagnose your code. Another related thing you might want to keep in mind while debugging some critical issue – you can create a debug build by turning off code optimization (project properties -> Build Tab -> Optimize Code (uncheck)). This helps you to get an accurate stack trace devoid of any code optimizations like inline functions. Let’s get back to PDBs, the topic of this post. Enabling PDB effect normally is done by turning them on (Project Properties -> Build -> Advanced -> Debug Info = pdb-only) and copying generated PDBs to deployment directory. But when you are using ClickOnce things are different. In ClickOnce, the assemblies are downloaded the client’s local machine and then executed (deriving the benefit of auto update). So how do you ensure that the client download PDBs with assemblies? Fortunately VS.NET simplifies this for us. Steps are below:
1) Go the publish tab of your project file and click on “Application Files” button.
2) By default PDB files are not bundled for publish. You need to check “Show All Files” check box and then you would get to see PDB. PDB again is excluded by default, so include them. And you are all set to get line numbers and file names with your stack trace.
Hope this helps🙂 .