Chrome Native Debugger For Visual Studio
Written by Mike James   
Thursday, 18 October 2012

NaCl is one of the many things that makes Chrome stand out amongst browsers. Now Google has released a debugger addin for Visual Studio in an effort to make it even easier to create native applications.

NaCl, or Native Client, allows you to run C or C++ code under Chrome. This means that you can achieve much higher speeds than are attainable with just JavaScript. However, running code in Chrome isn't quite the same as running under Linux or Windows and so you can expect to spend some time rewriting.




Until now debugging NaCl apps has required manual setup of a suitable tool. Google has taken the open source GNU Debugger GDB and customized it for operation with NaCL You can install it manually for use with IDEs such as Eclipse, but Google has made it available as a Visual Studio plugin. The plugin also offers some additional advantages:

  • Iteratively write and test the application more easily. Visual Studio handles the details of launching a web server to serve your module and run the module in Chrome with a debugger attached.
  • Compile a module into a DLL and run it as a Pepper plugin. This allows you to develop code incrementally, coding and/or porting one feature at a time into the Pepper APIs while continuing to use native Windows APIs that would otherwise be unavailable in an actual Native Client module.
  • Use Visual Studio's built-in debugger to debug your code while it’s running as a Pepper plugin.
  • Compile your module into a .nexe file using the Native Client SDK tools and run it as a Native Client module.
  • Use the Native Client debugger, nacl-gdb, to test your code when it’s running as a Native Client object.


Click to enlarge



Overall this puts Visual Studio way ahead as an IDE in which to develop NaCl code. Given that Visual Studio is considered to be a standard implementation of C++ this leads to a surprising situation - Microsoft's IDE being the best for creating Google Chrome NaCL code.

Does this increase the chance that Microsoft might support NaCl? No way.


More Information

Native Client



Visual Studio add-in

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Last Updated ( Thursday, 18 October 2012 )