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Published: Friday, August 17, 2001

Tracing in ASP

By Scott Mitchell

In a previous article, Tracing in ASP.NET, I examined a neat, cool new feature of ASP.NET - Tracing. In the article I mentioned classic ASP's lack of inherent tracing support, requiring the developer to have to do with sloppy Response.Write statements to output the contents of various variables throughout the page. In my article I pointed out a couple of disadvantages of relying on the sloppy Response.Write statements, the most profound ones being:

    - continued -

  1. Before shipping an application, a developer must go through each ASP page and ensure that she's removed all debugging Response.Write statements.
  2. Using Response.Write statements for debugging on a live Web site can lead to messy Response.Write statements displayed on live Web pages, which is highly undersirable.

Over the course of the past two days I've gotten a number of feedback responses from various 4Guys visitors who all acknowledged that, yes, tracing in ASP.NET is cool, but tracing in classic ASP doesn't have to be as bad as I made it out. In this short article, I'm going to present some of the more clever feedback responses I got from users who shared their techniques for making tracing in classic ASP that much easier!

Turning Resposne.Write Tracing On and Off in One Location
I just read the Tracing in ASP.NET article posted to your WebWeekly newsletter. I've used a similar technique in classic ASP for quite a while now. I typically create a GLOBAL.INC include file for each application. One of the code snippets that I add to this file is a boolean variable called blnDebug. Anytime I use a Response.Write throughout the app to print debug information I preface it with If blnDebug Then Response.Write.... This way I can turn debugging on/off throughout the app simply by toggling the single boolean variable. Of course, the include file must be set on each page. :-)

Displaying Response.Write Tracing Statements only for the Site's Developers
Hello! I have been enjoying and benefitting from the WebWeekly newsletter, and wanted to offer some feedback/comments on this week's article Tracing in ASP.NET...

You mention that debugging in Classic ASP is usually handled via Response.Writes scattered about the page, and that shortcomings with this method are (a)you must remember to go through and remove them when finished; and (b) on a live production server your visitors will see your debugging comments.

While Tracing in ASP.NET seems like a nice feature, I have been using a very simple solution in my Classic ASP pages that works quite well and avoids the shortcomings you mentioned. I'm writing to share this with you as your websites and articles have been invaluable to me in my development. Instead of using Response.Write to output debugging information, I wrote a simple function that only outputs debugging comments to me and only to me (or to whomever I allow, determined by REMOTE_ADDR or even a session variable that can be set on a special admin page.)

I call this function debug, and it's pretty straightforward, and has been working like a charm for me...

Function debug(str)
   If Request.ServerVariables("REMOTE_ADDR") = "" or _
                                  Session("developer") = True Then
      Response.Write str & "<br>" & vbCrLf
   End If
End Function

There you have it, a couple of ways to ease using tracing in classic ASP. While these workarounds are great, I think most will still agree that ASP.NET's tracing is easier to use than in classic ASP. In any case, many thanks to all of those who sent in feedback!

Happy Programming!

  • By Scott Mitchell

    Related Links:

  • Read Tracing in ASP.NET
  • Visit the ASP.NET Article Index

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