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Object Browser Elements

Visual Studio .NET 2003

The Object Browser allows you to view the contents of various components that you are interested in browsing. A component can be a project in your solution, a component referenced within the project, or an external component. You can choose the browsing scope using the Browse list and customize it in the Selected Components dialog box. For information about the browsing scope and how to change it, see Viewing and Altering the Browsing Scope.

The Object Browser is composed of three panes: the Objects pane, the Members pane, and the Description pane. By default, the Objects pane displays in the left side of the Object Browser, the Members pane displays on the right side, and the Description pane displays at the bottom. If you resize the Object Browser to a columnar orientation, however, then the Objects pane will move to the top and the Members pane underneath it.

The Objects pane

The Objects pane displays all container objects in the current browsing scope. A component typically contains symbols — namespaces, classes, structures, interfaces, types, and enums — that contain other symbols. They are collectively referred to as objects in the Object Browser and displayed in the Objects pane.

The contents of the Objects pane display in a tree view. When you expand a component by double-clicking it or by clicking the plus sign (+) next to its name, the namespaces defined within it appear. Expanding a namespace lists all of the classes defined within it. However, nested namespaces or objects are flattened and display as peers within the tree view. For example, if class CNestedClass is defined within CMyClass, they would display as sibling nodes in the tree view with the labels CMyClass and CMyClass::CNestedClass.

For each component, the hierarchy of objects displays as:



Selecting an object in the Objects pane displays its contents in the Members pane and detailed information about it in the Description pane. Expanding the object generally gives you additional information about it such as base classes and interfaces, implemented interfaces, available overrides, and so forth.

The Members pane

Each object can contain items such as properties, methods, events, variables, constants, and enum values. In the Object Browser, these are known collectively as members.

Selecting an object in the Objects pane displays its members in the Members pane. Selecting one of the members updates the Description pane to display detailed information about it.

The Description pane

The Description pane displays detailed information about the currently selected object or member, such as:

  • Name and parent object.
  • Syntax, based on the current programming language.
  • Links to related objects and members.
  • Description, comments, or Help text.
  • Attributes.
Note   Not every object or member will have all of this information.

You can copy text from the Description pane to the editor window.


The Object Browser toolbar allows you to specify and customize the browsing scope, sort and group the contents of the Object Browser, navigate within it, and search for symbols through the Find Symbol dialog box.

For more information about the various toolbar buttons, see Object Browser. For information about searching for symbols, see Searching for Symbols: Objects, Definitions and References.

Context menu

Right-clicking a symbol displays the Object Browser context menu. In addition to sorting and grouping commands, the following commands may be available on the menu:

Go To Definition
Takes you to the definition of the symbol in the code if available. The shortcut key is F12.
Go To Declaration
Takes you to the declaration of the symbol in the code, if available. This is available only for symbols in Visual C++ projects. The shortcut key is CTRL+F12.
Browse Definition
Takes you to the primary node (typically top level) for that symbol in the Object Browser.
Quick Find Symbol
Performs a search on the currently selected symbol using the options specified in the Find Symbol dialog box. The shortcut key is SHIFT+ALT+F12.
Allows you to copy the selected symbol to the clipboard. You can paste this as text to an editor window.
Show Hidden Members
Toggles display of hidden symbols in the Object Browser.
Allows you to remove an external component from the current browsing scope. External components are added through the Selected Components dialog box.

Symbol Help

You can press F1 on any symbol to view a Help topic about it, if available. This applies to many third-party components in addition to Visual Studio .NET components.

See Also

Object Browser | Viewing and Altering the Browsing Scope | Navigating in the Object Browser | Searching for Symbols: Objects, Definitions and References