Viewing the Structure of Code

You can examine the objects and members in Visual Studio projects, and the objects and members in .NET Framework components, COM components, dynamic-link libraries (DLL), and type libraries (TLB).

The following sections of this document describe the different code structure windows.

Class View (Visual Basic, C#, C++)

Call Hierarchy (Visual Basic, C#, C++)

Object Browser

Code Definition Window (C#, C++)

You can also use Solution Explorer to browse the types and members in your projects, search for symbols, view a method’s Call Hierarchy, find symbol references, and more without having to switch between the multiple tool windows listed previously.

Note Note

The Visual Studio edition and the settings you are using may affect the features in the IDE. They might differ from those described in this topic.

Class View is shown as part of Solution Explorer as well as in a separate window. The Class View window displays the elements of an application. The upper pane displays namespaces, types, interfaces, enumerations, and classes, and the lower pane displays the members that belong to the type selected in the upper pane. By using this window, you can move to member definitions in the source code (or in the Object Browser if the element is defined outside your solution).

You do not have to compile a project to view its elements in Class View. The window is refreshed as you modify the code in your project.

You can add code to your project by selecting the project node and choosing the Add button to open the Add New Item dialog box. The code is added in a separate file.

If your project is checked in to source code control, every Class View element displays an icon that indicates the source code status of the file. Common source code control commands such as Check Out, Check In, and Get Latest Version are also available on the shortcut menu for the element.

The Class View toolbar contains the following commands.

New Folder

Creates a virtual folder or subfolder in which you can organize frequently-used elements. They are saved in the active solution (.suo) file. After you rename or delete an element in your code, it might appear in a virtual folder as an error node. To correct this problem, delete the error node. If you renamed an element, you can move it from the project hierarchy into the folder again.

Back

Navigates to the previously selected item.

Forward

Navigates to the next selected item.

View Class Diagram (managed code projects only)

Becomes available when you select a namespace or type in Class View. When a namespace is selected, the class diagram shows all the types in it. When a type is selected, the class diagram shows only that type.

The Class View Settings button on the toolbar has the following settings.

Show Base Types

Base types are displayed.

Show Derived Types

Derived types are displayed.

Show Hidden Types and Members

Hidden types and members (not intended for use by clients) are displayed in light gray text.

Show Public Members

Public members are displayed.

Show Protected Members

Protected members are displayed.

Show Private Members

Private members are displayed.

Show Other Members

Other kinds of members are displayed, including internal (or Friend in Visual Basic) members.

Show Inherited Members

Inherited members are displayed.

Show Extension Methods

Extension methods are displayed.

The shortcut menu in Class View may contain the following commands, depending on the kind of project selected.

Go To Definition

Finds the definition of the element in the source code, or in the Object Browser, if the element is not defined in the open project.

Browse Definition

Displays the selected item in the Object Browser.

Find All References

Finds the currently selected object item and displays the results in a Find Results window.

Filter To Type (managed code only)

Displays only the selected type or namespace. You can remove the filter by choosing the Clear Find (X) button next to the Find box.

Copy

Copies the fully qualified name of the item.

Sort Alphabetically

Lists types and members alphabetically by name.

Sort by Member Type

Lists types and members in order by type (such that classes precede interfaces, interfaces precede delegates, and methods precede properties).

Sort by Member Access

Lists types and members in order by access type, such as public or private.

Group by Member Type

Sorts types and members into groups by object type.

Go To Declaration (C++ code only)

Displays the declaration of the type or member in the source code, if available.

Go To Definition

Displays the definition of the type or member in the source code, if available.

Go To Reference

Displays a reference to the type or member in the source code, if available.

View Call Hierarchy

Displays the selected method in the Call Hierarchy window.

The Call Hierarchy window shows where a given method (or property or constructor) is called, and lists the methods that are called from that method. You can view multiple levels of the call graph, which shows the caller/callee relationships among the methods in a specified scope.

You can display the Call Hierarchy window by selecting a method (or property or constructor) and then choosing View Class Hierarchy on the shortcut menu. The display should resemble the following picture.

Call Hierarchy window

Call Hierarchy Multiple Nodes Open

By using the drop-down list on the toolbar, you can specify the scope of the hierarchy: the solution, the current project, or the current document.

The main pane displays the calls to and from the method, and the Call Sites pane displays the location of the selected call. For members that are virtual or abstract, an Overrides method name node appears. For interface members, an Implements method name node appears.

The Call Hierarchy window does not find method group references, which include places where a method is added as an event handler or is assigned to a delegate. To find these references, use the Find All References command.

The shortcut menu in the Call Hierarchy window contains the following commands.

Add as New Root

Adds the selected node as a new root node.

Remove Root

Removes the selected root node from the tree view pane.

Go to Definition

Navigates to the original definition of a method.

Find All References

Finds in the project all the references to the selected method.

Copy

Copies the selected node (but not its sub-nodes).

Refresh

Refreshes the information.

The Object Browser displays descriptions of the code in your projects.

You can filter what you want to view in the Object Browser. By using the drop-down list at the top of the window, you can choose among the following options:

  • Any .NET Framework

  • Silverlight

  • The active solution

  • A custom set of components

Custom components can include managed code executables, library assemblies, type libraries, and .ocx files. It is not possible to add C++ custom components. Custom settings are saved in the Visual Studio user application directory, %APPDATA%\Roaming\Microsoft\VisualStudio\11.0\ObjBrowEX.dat.

The left pane of the Object Browser shows physical containers such as .NET Framework and COM components. You can expand the container nodes to display the namespaces they contain, and then expand the namespaces to display the types they contain. When you select a type, its members (such as properties and methods) are listed in the right pane. The lower right pane displays detailed information about the selected item.

You can search for a specific item by using the Search box at the top of the window. Searches are case-insensitive. Search results are displayed in the left pane. To clear a search, choose the Clear Search (X) button next to the Search box.

The Object Browser keeps track of the selections you have made, and you can navigate among your selections by using the Forward and Back buttons on the toolbar.

You can use the Object Browser to add an assembly reference to an open solution by selecting an item (assembly, namespace, type, or member) and choosing the Add Reference button on the toolbar.

By using the Object Browser Settings button on the toolbar, you can specify one of the following views.

View Namespaces

Displays namespaces rather than physical containers, in the left pane. Namespaces stored in multiple physical containers are merged.

View Containers

Displays physical containers rather than namespaces, in the left pane. View Namespaces and View Containers are mutually exclusive settings.

Show Base Types

Displays base types.

Show Derived Types

Displays derived types.

Show Hidden Types and Members

Displays hidden types and members (not intended for use by clients), in light gray text.

Show Public Members

Displays public members.

Show Protected Members

Displays protected members.

Show Private Members

Displays private members.

Show Other Members

Displays other types of members, including internal (or Friend in Visual Basic) members.

Show Inherited Members

Displays inherited members.

Show Extension Methods

Displays extension methods.

The shortcut menu in the Object Browser may contain the following commands, depending on the kind of item selected.

Browse Definition

Shows the primary node for the selected item.

Find All References

Finds the currently selected object item and displays the results in a Find Results window.

Filter To Type

Displays only the selected type or namespace. You can remove the filter by choosing the Clear Search button.

Copy

Copies the fully qualified name of the item.

Remove

If the scope is a custom component set, removes the selected component from the scope.

Sort Alphabetically

Lists types and members alphabetically by name.

Sort by Object Type

Lists types and members in order by type (such that classes precede interfaces, interfaces precede delegates, and methods precede properties).

Sort by Object Access

Lists types and members in order by access type, such as public or private.

Group by Object Type

Sorts types and members into groups by object type.

Go To Declaration (C++ projects only)

Displays the declaration of the type or member in the source code, if available.

Go To Definition

Displays the definition of the type or member in the source code, if available.

Go To Reference

Displays a reference to the type or member in the source code, if available.

View Call Hierarchy

Displays the selected method in the Call Hierarchy window.

The Code Definition window displays the definition of a selected type or member in the active project. The type or member can be selected in the code editor or in a code view window.

Although this window is read-only, you can set breakpoints or bookmarks in it. To modify the displayed definition, choose Edit Definition on the shortcut menu. This opens the source file in the code editor and moves the insertion point to the line where the definition begins.

The shortcut menu in the Code Definition window may contain the following commands, depending on the programming language.

Create Unit Tests

Creates unit tests for the selected element.

Generate Sequence Diagram

When a method is selected, generates a sequence diagram.

Create Private Accessor

If a unit test is present in the solution, generates a method that the test uses to access the code.

Go To Definition

Finds the definition (or definitions, for partial classes) and displays them in a Find Results window.

Find All References

Finds the references to the type or member in the solution.

View Call Hierarchy

Displays the method in the Call Hierarchy window.

Show Calling Tests

If there are unit tests in the project, shows the tests that call the selected code.

Run Calling Tests

If there are unit tests in the project, runs the tests for the selected code.

Breakpoint

Inserts a breakpoint (or a tracepoint).

Run to Cursor

Runs the program in debug mode to the location of the cursor.

Copy

Copies the selected line.

Outlining

Standard outlining commands.

Edit Definition

Moves the insertion point to the definition in the code window.

Choose Encoding

Opens the Encoding window so that you can set an encoding for the file.

You can use the Document Outline window in conjunction with designer views, such as the designer for a XAML page or a Windows Form designer, or with HTML pages. This window displays the elements in a tree view so that you can view the logical structure of the form or page and find controls that are deeply embedded or hidden.

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