Table of Content
In the last month I have published an article
of ASP.NET Application that hosted on IIS server using process attaché. And
I have got a very good response from all the readers, specially
Yankee Imperialist Dog! ,
Manas Bhardwaj and many others . And they have
suggested me for a follow up article on IIS Remote debugging. Thanks to all
of them for their feedback and giving me another opportunity to write an
article. I think this will help you all. Please give your valuable
suggestions and feedback to improve on my article.
Before starting with this article, I will request you to read my previous article
ASP.NET Application that Hosted on IIS : Process Attach and Identify which
process to attach . This article will give you the basic understanding of
Debugging ASP.NET Application that is hosted on Local Server, along with Process
selection among multiple processes. And article was all about if you have IIS
installed in local server, that means you have hosted your site on your local
development environment or your Web server/ production server having visual
studio installed. But this is not the real scenario.
Now coming back to this article, this article is all
about the IIS remote debugging. You are developing your application in you
local system which is hosted on remote web server and now you need to debug it.
How will you do that ? This article will describe all the necessary steps
like how to configure remote debugging, attaching process from remote server,
start debugging etc. This is one of the most challenging task in ASP.NET. Hope I
have explained it clearly.
We can have three different way to debug our
application from Visual Studio. They are:
Visual Studio Internal Debugger
Local IIS Debugging
Remote IIS Debugging
We are all aware of that visual studio is having
its own internal
ASP.NET debug engine which is used to debug our ASP.NET web
application while we are developing it. The process which is used to debug the
application within visual studio is
. ASP.NET Engine uses
debug the application. Now if you want to know more details about it please read
Fig: Block Diagram for Visual
Studio Internal Debugger
This is all about my
. Just brush up the things, I am explaining the whole scenario using following
diagram. [ Though it was not necessary, because I have already explained it in my
last article, still I have used only for the co-relation with the remote
Fig: Block Diagram for Debugging
ASP.NET site from Local IIS Server
In local IIS debugging, IIS should
be installed in the local system where we have visual studio installed. For
debugging the application hosted on IIS from visual studio, we need to
attach the worker process (
w3wp.exe) with in visual studio. After that we will
able to start the debugging of the web application.
This is the main topic which we
should cover in this article. It is one of the best features and it is very much
helpful when we do not have a IIS Server installed in local system or when
we have to store the applications at a centralized location. The scenario comes
when you are having with your application code in your system and the
build which was deployed on different IIS server. Below diagrams shows the
overall diagram for remote debugging.
Fig: Block Diagram for Remote
debugging of ASP.NET Application
Remote debugging with Visual
studio and Remote IIS is very easy to setup. The tool which is used to setup and
configure the process is know as
"msvsmon.exe". I have describe each and every
steps to start, configure the msvsmon tool and debug the application. But
before that just have a look on why should we need remote debugging.
Before going into details, we
need to know when we have to use remote debugging,
Local development server does
not have IIS installed.
Development server and
Build/Released/Hosting Server is different
Application located in
The tool which is used to remote
debugging of the ASP.Net application know as "
The Remote Debugging tool (
Msvsmon.exe) is a small windows based application
that Visual Studio 2005 uses for remote debugging. It has very simple UI
which makes it very simple to setup and configure During remote debugging,
Visual Studio 2005 runs on one computer and the Remote Debugging Tool runs on
the remote computer along with the application you are debugging.
Fig: Block Diagram for Remote
debugging of ASP.NET Application with msvsmon
If we want to debug the
application which is hosted on remote IIS, we have to start the msvsmon.exe to
the remote server, and our development system is the debugger host where we will
debug our code.
Msvsmon.exe is installed to the following paths:
Install path\Microsoft Visual Studio
First of all we need to Run the Application
from the location and we will get following screen,
Fig: Initial startup of msvsmon.exe
At the time of starting of application the
window will show the status message
"Msvsmon started a new server named '. Which means Debugging monitor tool is ready
to connect with some remote server. Now I can connect with this remote server
and get the list of all process that is running on the server.
Waiting for new connection"
Configuration of msvsmon tool is very easy. The
main configuration is involves with the authentication mode. Msvsmon support two types of authentication
Msvsmon provide highlevel security with the windows
authentication mode. The user who want to debug the application remotely he should
be authenticated, means he should have sufficient permission to access the debugging
facility from the remote system. For Setup the Windows authentication mode, We have
"Tool" > "Options" . Following window will appear,
Fig: Setup and configure security settings
Now we have a permission button along with the windows authentication radio button.
Using that, we can give permission to any user who belongs to that windows group.
If we click on the Permission button, following screen will appear
Fig: Add user for windows authentication
By default, Administrator should have the permission for
remote debugging, we can use add button to add new user and can give the Debug access
or Deny the Debug persmission to any user. For example, I have added myself
by just clicking on Add button and take the access control.
Fig: Add user for windows authentication
Now, I have give me the permission for debugging from
remotely (from Debugger Host).
Fig: Debug permission for selected user
Similiarly we can select any user from Active Directory and can deny
the request for remote debugging though the user is Windows authenticated user.
I have discussed about how to debug remotely with windows authentication mode in
the process attache section.
There is no security involved with this authentication
mode. Any one can debug remotely, if the authentication mode is set to
As this debugging mode is not at all secure, so it should be used only on secure
Fig: No-Authentication Mode Configuration
Authentication mode only supports native debugging.
You can also guess the behaviour from the warning message. We have a "
User to Debug" check box. If we checked that one, any user can able to debug.
In the next section I have described, how to attach the process for remote debugging
for both Windows and No Authentication Mode.
Now, Remote Debugger is ready to accept a new connection to start remote debugging.
And we have already gone through how to configure the msvsmon for both windows and
No-Authentication mode. Now we will check how to connect with them and start debugging,
Before what we need to do, we have created a Web application and hosted it IIS where
msvsmon is running, We need to connect it from our local system where we are having
our code. Now lets have a look in the case of windows authentication mode
First of all we need to open the application
from visual studio in our development system. Now we need to attach the
process from remote server. Goto
Fig: Attach Process From Visual Studio
When we will click on the "
Process" we will get the following screen .
Fig: Default Process List
Right now it is showing all the process
that are currently running on the system. Now we need to
connect it the remote system. Now I have already started a msvsmon with
"abhijit.jana" and it is waiting for a new connection.
Fig: msvsmon is running on remote host
Now, I am going to connect with the remote
system from my local visual studio IDE. So, what we need to do. We have
to give the remote server name to the Qualifier section in attach
Fig: Connect with Remote host and get the list of process
Now, in the process list all the
process are listed from remote server along with Worker Process
(w3wp.exe). Now this is the exact worker process which we need to attach
with our code. One more thing, when we are getting the list of process
from it means remote server is connected. Now if we check the msvsmon
window, it will show another message that user is connected. Have
a look into the screenshot
Fig: Debug monitor showing message of connection
Now, our application is ready to debug.
just set a break point in your code and enjoy the debugging. Here
is our web site [
Hosted on Remote IIS Server ] and which having a
server side button, and I want to debug the application on the click of
Fig: Access site from Host URL
Now process is attached in our visual
studio and I have set the breakpoint on the button click method. Here is
Fig: Debugger at breakpoint
So, let enjoy the debugging from remote
server . Now lets have a look how will we remote debug in
Process Attach - No Authentication Mode
This is quite similar to windows
authentication process attach. I have already discussed that, how to
configure the No-Authentication mode in remote debugger. We have to
attach the process similar way that I have discussed. There are some few
changes. Transport mode should be selected to -
Remote (Native only with
no authentication) [ Check the Screen shots] .And we need
to provide the qualifier "
". Have a look into screen
Fig: Process Attach for No-Authentication Mode
So, now we need to attach the worker
process and need to start debugging, on which I have already discussed.
There is slight change in connect while remote debugging going on with
No-Authentication mode. Debugging monitor will display a message on
the window that debugging is running on no authentication mode.
Fig: Status message for No-Authentication Mode
So, this is all about how to debug you
application from remote IIS server in both windows and No-Authentication
This is one of the most fantastic features of
Msvsmon tool. Msvsmon debugging monitor tool allow multiple user to debug
simultaneously. . Each instance of the remote
debugger has a
unique server name. As I have already shown that Server names are configurable, so
give an instance of the remote debugger any server name. Now multiple user can able
to access the same
Fig: General block diagram from Multiple Debugger instance
- Visual Studio 2005 remote debugging components
must be installed on the remote computer
- we must reference the remote computer by
using a computer name instead of an IP address.
- The Web.config file for the ASP.NET
application must not contain any errors, and the compilation element must
have the debug attribute set to True.
- Make sure that a firewall is not blocking
- The security setting for the site must
allow Integrated Windows authentication.
- Make sure that the Remote Debugging
Monitor is running on the remote server. If Msvsmon.exe is not running, you
receive the following error message.
Now to finalize the things, just take a quick
summary. msvsmon is an utility which provides the facility to debug the
application which is hosted on remote IIS server. It provides two kind of
authentication mode, Windows and No-Authentication Mode. In Case of windows
authentication mode the user should need the permission to access the instance
of remote debugger but on the other hand No-Authentication does not required and
Fig: Overall Summary
Hope this article will help you
to learn about remote debugging. Please Don't forget give your suggestion and
Feedback for imporvement.