OzCode - my favourite Visual Studio tool

If you've never seen OzCode in action, then brace yourselves for the most awesome tool in Visual Studio. Yes, even more awesome than Resharper and everything else you have to throw at me.

What is OzCode?

OzCode is a debugging tool that you install as an extension and it can totally transform the way you debug and work with your code within Visual Studio. It overtakes from the built-in debugger to give you so many more features to simplify your work and allow you to focus on what really matters, fixing the problem.

As developers, we spend most of our time debugging our code, or even worse, someone else's code. Having the right tools in your arsenal can really help. And this is exactly the whole promise of OzCode, the right tool for the right job -> debugging.

I met some of the OzCode developers at //.Net/Fringe last year and I sat through their workshop. I had already been an OzCode user but seeing the actual developers use the tool in practice was a revelation. And these guys are really gifted

Why OzCode?

I wrote a post recently about my effort to decouple my development process as much as possible from 3rd party tools and extensions. This is still the case and I stand by what I wrote. However, I would be full to turn my back on OzCode. From all the plugins and tools I used over the years, this is the most impressive one. It run perfect even in low memory environments. Where Resharper choked, OzCode battled on. Yes, I know. They do different things, but they are both plugins, so in that respect OzCode is at the top. and then, there are the features. Probably too many to add here and I would urge you to visit the official OzCode site and have a look for yourselves. However, I will list my 3 favorite features just to get you warmed up:

1. Magic Glance

How many times did you have to hover over a local variable/object in order to drill into its properties? With OzCode's "Magic Glance" you get an immediate view of the actual values straight in the IDE as you step through your code. No need to hover or to drill in for simple variables (strings, int, booleans etc). This is a simple example:

2. Reveal

When dealing with complex objects or lists of complex objects. you can now pin pin the most important properties to reveal their value. This feature makes the values visible without the need to drill down to each object/property and then expand it. It speeds debugging dramatically. It also resolves LINQ queries! Check the following example for a taste of how amazing this is:

3. Searching

You know what else is freaking amazing? Lets say you have a List which consists of 30 items. You know one of them has a null value for the "Name" which causes an exception later on in the code. You can now use the OzCode window to search through the collection and find the offending item. No need to for conditional breaking any more!

4. Predictive results

As you step through the code, if OzCode comes across an operation that performs complex calculations, it will run it ahead of time for you and give you a predictive result. This can also be seen on the first picture I attached eariler where apart from the Magic Glance, which shows the value straight in the IDE, we can see the result of the string.Join() before it's executed! You see the future, now!

Many more

I'll stop here, but there are so many more features that I like about this product. You can have an in-depth read and check the videos for each feature here. My hat's off to the whole team and I look forward to see what they have to offer next.

Pricing

I got you hooked? Now what the price? First of all, before you even go looking for prices then know this: if you're an MVP or an Open Source contributor (and you can prove it) then this product is FREE! OzCode has excellent community support and I admire that! Nonetheless, if you still need to buy a license, then the personal license is very reasonable priced, if not cheap (only $79) for what the software has to offer in terms of productivity gains.

If you've ever felt frustrated with debugging code, then do yourself a favour and get this tool. Your future self will thank you and me (I expect a beer next time you see me...).

If you already use OzCode or any other tool that it's worth mentioning here, then make yourself and your opinion known in the comments below.

P.S. This post was not sponsored by OzCode. I've been using this product for a long time and I felt it was the right time to write about my favorite VS extension.


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