Microsoft Research Connections Blog

The Microsoft Research Connections blog shares stories of collaborations with computer scientists at academic and scientific institutions to advance technical innovations in computing, as well as related events, scholarships, and fellowships.

Debugger Canvas released on Devlabs

Debugger Canvas released on Devlabs

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In June 2011, Microsoft released Debugger Canvas on DevLabs, the result of a year-long collaboration between Microsoft Research, the Microsoft Visual Studio product team, and Brown University. Debugger Canvas transforms how software developers use and experience their programming environments.

In a traditional programming environment, a developer views code like most people view the web: by hopping from document to document, following link after link, with many documents opened in tabs across the top of the screen. Just like hyperactive web surfers, developers often get “lost in the tabs,” struggling to find (and re-find!) information that is relevant to their tasks. Debugger Canvas replaces these tabbed documents with a pan-and-zoom presentation of the specific source code that is relevant to the task. This keeps all of the necessary pieces together in one place, eliminating a lot of disorienting navigation steps.

Debugger Canvas is the result of a bit of serendipity. At last summer’s International Conference on Software Engineering, two separate teams—one from Microsoft Research and one from Brown University—each presented a paper about redesigning programming environments. The two teams quickly discovered each other, found many points of overlap between their designs, and decided to join forces and combine the best of both designs. With support from Microsoft Research Connections, we pulled together a team from Microsoft Research, Brown University, and the Visual Studio product team. The goal was to create a “power tool” (that is, an experimental extension) for Visual Studio that enables professional developers across the world to try out these new ideas. The result: Debugger Canvas.

The initial public reaction to Debugger Canvas has been overwhelmingly positive both on Twitter and in the comments area of blog posts that are discussing the tool. (One of my favorite tweets: “Thank you Debugger Canvas http://bit.ly/ls7zgn I found the error in secs after I installed you.”)

Up next: the collaborative team is currently adding enhancements based on user feedback, as well as scheduling interviews with active users to learn how they are using the tool. That feedback, plus other input and personal observations, will inform our next release of the tool.

Arjmand Samuel, Research Program Manager, Microsoft Research Connections, and Rob Deline, Principal Researcher, Microsoft Research

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  • Please specific that it is only the Ulimate edition can use it.  It is such a let down to see this.. wait for it... only to discover that I cannot use it because I'm using the Pro. edition.

  • Interesting Finds: July 8, 2011

  • Thank you for submitting this cool story - Trackback from progg.ru

  • Hi Bydia,

    Thank you for contacting us with your concerns.

    Please note that the first sentence in the intro paragraph on the download page (msdn.microsoft.com/.../debuggercanvas) does state that Debugger Canvas is specifically for Visual Studio Ultimate. Debugger Canvas is built on top of Visual Studio Ultimate so that we could re-use the underlying technology for the Dependency Diagrams to identify and display the right fragments on the canvas.

    I'm happy to hear that you'd like to see this more widely available. Your feedback helps us determine what changes to make in future versions.

    Regards,

    Arjmand

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