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As per Esri's recommendation I began the process of converting my existing VBA customization into VB .Net Express edition. I was surprised to realize that debugging a DLL is not an option in the express edition.

"If you are using the Visual C# Express Edition or Visual Basic Express Edition, you cannot debug DLLs because these versions do not have the option to start an external application for debugging."


Any workaround other than purchasing VS Pro?

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This isn't a direct answer to the question, but depending on your situation, you might be able to use SysInternal's DebugView for Windows if you just need to monitor debug output. – Jay Cummins Aug 23 '10 at 17:37
up vote 5 down vote accepted

You can use the start external program option by editing the VS project user file, which will be named {yourproject}.vbproj.user in the projects directory.

Open the file using your favourite xml editor and look for the following line:

<PropertyGroup Condition=" '$(Configuration)|$(Platform)' == 'Debug|AnyCPU' "/>

replace it with something like this:

     <PropertyGroup Condition=" '$(Configuration)|$(Platform)' == 'Debug|AnyCPU' ">

where {programToAttach} is the application the you want to debug with, in this case it would be ArcGIS or whatever you are using.

I used to use this when testing MapInfo plugins before I had the full version of Visual Studio.

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Good stuff. Thanks – Jakub Aug 24 '10 at 15:30

Never actually tested this solution, but some claim that it's possible by manually modifying the project file. See Debugging in VS Express.

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I suggest testing it. The reason I say that is because I'm using Vb express to convert my VBA tools to, and when I debug ArcMap opens with no problem.

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Thanks for the replies. Have not tested it yet but will. I am currently in the process of updating my system (W7 64bit and ArcGis 10) and i will test the solution as soon as i am done. – Jakub Aug 23 '10 at 21:05
Yes the solution works flawlessly – Jakub Sep 11 '10 at 0:04
Good, glad that you found a solution to your issue. – Zachary Sep 12 '10 at 23:47

Besides modifying the project file to starting an external program (Nathan W's answer), you can also use the standalone CLR debugger, which comes as part of the .NET SDK:

This will let you attach to an already-running process, which can be super helpful. I've used it for debugging ArcGIS Desktop extensions quite a bit.

It looks and feels like debugging from within Visual Studio, although it is somewhat more limited. (For example, you can't set breakpoints from within the visual studio editor since it is a standalone debugger.)

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