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Microsoft Continues to Improve Java Debugger for VS Code Editor

Microsoft continues to improve its Java debugger for the Visual Studio Code editor, issuing the fifth update in just the past three months.

The company on Monday announced version 0.5.0 of the Debugger for Java extension, featuring improved expression evaluation and a step filter capability for bypassing certain types or classes when stepping through code.

"The debugger now enables you to evaluate expressions in variable watch window as well as debug console at runtime," Microsoft said. "So now you can see the value of both the simple variables, single-line expressions, as well as short code fragments within the running context. You can then monitor and validate the change of the value when your code is being executed."

The step filter functionality, meanwhile, lets developers indicate code they want to skip in the debugging step-through process. For example, in the launch.json file, developers can indicate types of code they want to skip, plugging in values such as "java.*", "com.sun.*" and so on.

Less significant updates include:

  • Publishing the binaries to the maven central repository
  • Adopting new Visual Studio Code 1.19.0 debug activation events
  • Improving searching performance by looking up the stack frame’s associated source file from source containers directly instead of leveraging the original jdt search engine
  • Bug fixes

The extension, still in preview, builds on the Language Support for Java by Red Hat extension (downloaded more than 2 million times) to provide debugging functionality for Java jockeys who work with VS Code.

"For Java developers on Visual Studio Code, the Language Support for Java by Red Hat extension has been great for providing language features such as IntelliSense and project support," Microsoft's Xiaokai He said when the tool was announced. "At the same time, we've also heard feedback that users would also like Java debugging."

The debugger extension provides the following features:

  • Launch/Attach
  • Breakpoints
  • Exceptions
  • Pause & Continue
  • Step In/Out/Over
  • Variables
  • Callstacks
  • Threads
  • Debug console

Available in the Visual Studio Code Marketplace, the Debugger for Java extension has been installed nearly 444,000 times, earning a perfect 5.0 rating from 11 reviewers. Microsoft open sourced the tool last year.

About the Author

David Ramel is the editor of Visual Studio Magazine.

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