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Table of Contents

Description

The XSLT-Debugger plugin allows to debug XSLT stylesheets in IntelliJ IDEA with various useful features a debugger should have, including breakpoints, watch expressions, variables display, etc. It is tightly integrated with IDEA which allows it to be effectively efficiently used without much need to familiarize first.

Note
titleRequirement

The plugin requires at least version 3 of the "XPathView + XSLT-Support" plugin. UnfortunatelyIf this isn't installed yet, IDEA doesn't will automatically download and install it , so this has to be done when installing the XSLT-Debugger plugin. If an earlier version is already installed, please upgrade the plugin manually.

Features

Here's The following sections contain a list of the major features that are provided by the XSLT-Debugger which are designed to greatly ease debugging that help to develop and debug XSLT stylesheets in IntelliJ IDEA : Develop with Pleasurepleasure.


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breakpoints
breakpoints

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Properties of XSLT breakpoints can be configured by either right-clicking the breakpoint-icon in the left editor gutter or by opening the breakpoints dialog via Run | View Breakpoints from the main menu. This allows to manage the following properties.

Breakpoint Conditions

Breakpoints can have a condition expression which is evaluated each time the breakpoint is hit. The result of this evaluation determines whether the breakpoint's action is executed, i.e. for a "simple" breakpoint, this would be simply to suspend the execution.

For more advanced debugging, it is also possible to specify either a log- or trace expression that is evaluated when the breakpoint is hit (and the condition, if present, evaluates to true).

Log Breakpoints

The result of a log-breakpoint will simply be written into the output console of the debugged process. This can be useful to output the value of a certain variable or maybe the name of the current context node without having to stop the debugger each time the breakpoint is visited.

If no expression is entered, a standard message like "[text.xsl:12]: <no message>" will be displayed which includes the name of the XSLT file and the line number in brackets.

Trace Breakpoints

An even more advanced debugging tool are trace-breakpoint. They are evaluated just like log-breakpoints, but their result isn't printed into the console. Instead, for each evaluated trace-expression, a special node in the "Structure" tree will be inserted. The contains the evaluation result and indicates the position during the execution of the stylesheet when the breakpoint was triggered.

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titleXPath Expressions

Each expression can use any XPath function that is supported by the XSLT processor and any variable that is visible at the breakpoint's location. You'll note that you don't have to type everything yourself: There's code completion and validation for functions and variables.

Info
titleSuspend Policy

For both log- and trace-expressions it is possible to specify the "Suspend Policy" (as it is called by IDEA's Java Debugger): If the "Suspend" checkbox is checked, the execution of the stylesheet will also be paused when the breakpoint triggered.

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When paused, the XSLT-Debugger displays the complete call-stack for the current location. The "Frames" tab shows the stack of XSLT-instructions, while the "Source" tab shows the positions in the transformed source document, i.e. the stack of the context nodes.

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When selecting a different frame in the "Frames" tab, the debugger will open the corresponding XSLT file and highlight the selected frame's position in that file. It will also update the "Variables" tab to show the visible variables and their values. Any expressions in the "Watches" tab will be recomputed for the changed context.

The source frames are displayed as a unique XPath location path together with the containing file's name and the line number. Navigating to these frames is possible as well, either by double-clicking an element or by pressing the "Navigate to Source" keyboard shortcut (usually F4). The debugger will then open the corresponding XML file and position the cursor at the selected node's position.

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execution_control

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When the debugged process is suspended at a breakpoint, the "Variables" tab will show all variables visible in the current scope. Global variables, local variables and parameters are distinguished by different icons.

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It's also possible to navigate to a variable's declaration, either from the variable node's context menu or by the keyboard shortcut for "Navigate to source". The same is possible for each node in a nodeset which navigates to the source of the selected node in the containing XML file. If for some reason the location of a node cannot be determined, the Navigate to Source action is disabled.

To copy the string-value of a variable or node into the clipboard, press Ctrl-C or invoke the "Copy Value" action from the context menu.

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watches

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Expression Evaluation

On the toolbar of the "Variables" tab there's an action that opens a dialog which allows to evaluate arbitrary expression. The evaluation works just like the evaluation of a watch expression.

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The tree is updated each time the debugger is paused. Nodes that have been generated since the last time the debugger was suspended are marked with a blue "*" to indicate that it's a new node. Element nodes that aren't closed yet contain a node at the end with the text "..." to indicate that more content is expected.

To find out which XSLT instruction generated a specific node, right click the node and select "Navigate to source". This will open the XSLT file at the position that produced the node.

The toolbar of the "Structure" tab contains the following actions: The "Hide Whitespace Nodes" action will make the tree hide all text-nodes that only consist of whitespace. This can be useful to see only the really relevant nodes. The actions "Expand All" and "Collapse All" allow quickly expand and collapse the whole tree.

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Next, set one or more breakpoints, either with your regular keyboard shortcut or by clicking on the left editor gutter. A breakpoint icon with a little gear will appear.

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Optionally specify any properties of the breakpoint, such as an XPath-condition on which it should trigger.

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Now the debugger can be started in the usual way by clicking the "Debug"-icon in the main toolbar or by invoking the action "Run | RunDebug" from the main menu.

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If the stylesheet is valid and can be loaded by the XSLT processor, the view in the "Debug" toolwindow will switch from the regular output console to the "XSLT Debugger" tab.

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Now it's possible to examine the values of parameters and variables, check watch expressions or evaluate custom XPath expressions in the context of the current execution-frame. See the chapters Variables and Watches more information. To inspect the output that has been generated by the stylesheet, please see the chapter XSLT Output.

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When you're done with inspecting the current position, you can either resume the execution continue debugging in single-stepping mode with the "Step Over" or "Step Into" actions. See the chapter Execution Control for more information.

Availability

The plugin is available for IntelliJ IDEA 7.0 and 8.1 via the built-in plugin manager and at the IntelliJ Plugin Repository.

Info
titleInstallation

Please ensure that The XSLT-Debugger requires version 3 or later of the XPathView + XSLT-Support plugin is installed before or together with the XSLT-Debugger, otherwise IDEA will complain that it is missing and disable the XSLT-Debugger. If this happened, it is required to explicitly enable the XSLT-Debugger plugin again when XPathView + XSLT-Support has been installed. If it's not installed yet, IDEA will usually automatically download and install it. If an older version is already installed, please upgrade the plugin manually.

Known Issues

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titleMute Breakpoints

The "Mute Breakpoints" action currently doesn't work for XSLT-breakpoints. This action does not affect XSLT BreakpointBreakpoints, i.e. they will stay active.

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titleXSLT Processor

The debugger engine currently uses the SAXON 6.5.5 XSLT processor, which might cause the debugged stylesheets to work different or even incorrectly when they're designed for a another processor (e.g. Xalan), especially when extension functions are involved.

Debugging with Xalan is possible as well if either a compatible version of Xalan is found in the classpath or the VM argument "-Dxslt.transformer.type=xalan" is added. Note that the Xalan-support is considered beta-quality.

To switch back to SAXON even if Xalan is present, use "-Dxslt.transformer.type=saxon" to override the auto-detection.

Info
titlePlatform Issues

The plugin has so far only been tested on Windows. Although there's nothing that generally prevents using it on other platforms, the breakpoint matching logic depends on file-URLs which may look differently on Linux/Mac. If you experience problems on these platforms, please let me know. I'd also appreciate if someone would just confirm that it works fine.Even though some effort has been put into normalizing the URLs, I don't know if it actually works everywhere.

Please let me know if there are any problems - on any platform.

Version History

Version 1.0-beta (2007-12-03)

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  • Bugfixes, internal refactorings, stability improvements

Version 1.1.1 (2007-12-18)

  • Online Help added

Version 1.1.2 (2007-12-21)

  • Documentation updated

Version 1.1.6 (2009-01-16)

  • Support for IDEA 8

Version 1.2.1 (2009-02-27)

  • Beta-support for debugging with Xalan

Version 1.2.2 (2009-03-06)

  • Bugfixes