Chapter 10. Viewing Data in the IDE

Seeing your application data (the data that the application manipulates as you use it) is possibly the most important aspect of working with the code in your application, yet it's one of the skills that many developers only partially develop. The "good enough" approach to viewing data often holds sway. Unfortunately, the "good enough" data view often leads to errors in code because the developer can't see the data adequately. Subtle problems make the developer think that the data are fine, when they really aren't. Careful viewing would show that the data really aren't as healthy as they should be and that the code needs some additional tweaking to obtain the desired result.

Visual Studio provides two main methods for viewing data: special windows and visualizers. You can use any of the windows that Visual Studio provides to see collections of data. These views provide a drill-down interface that you can use to locate specific data. However, the views only provide textual views of the data, which may not be enough to determine that the data are correct. After all, it's very easy to miss a closing angle bracket in XML data.

Careful viewing is where the second method of data viewing comes into play. Using visualizers helps you to interpret the data—to see it in a completely human-readable form that makes errors a lot easier to see. Instead of simply seeing text, you see the text as a human would see it—XML really looks like XML. Visual Studio comes ...

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