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Dude, where’s my Script Explorer?

A while back, Joel and I were discussing something, and the topic of the Visual Studio Script Explorer came up.

“The what?” I asked.

You know, the thing that lets you debug client-side script.  You just open this little window when your ASP.NET application is in debug mode.  It’s on the Debug / Windows menu.

“Hey – that’s pretty neat.  I’ll have to try that.” I said gleefully.  So, I bounded back to my desk (ok, so maybe I didn’t “bound”), and loaded up a web application in Visual Studio.  I hit F5, and went to Debug / Windows, and selected the Script Expl… hey, it’s not there.  Maybe it’s under View / Other Windows?  No dice.  Huh, how do you like them apples?  Apparently I wasn’t special enough to warrant this menu item.

That’s pretty much where the issue ended for a while.  Then it came up again last week in a conversation, and Joel asked me if I had ever figured out why I couldn’t see it.  I hadn’t it, but the question spurred me to dig into it further.  Here’s what I found.

The Script Explorer has an OOTB keyboard shortcut assigned to it of CTRL-ALT-N (this shows in the Debug/Windows menu, and I happened to notice it on Joel’s machine last week).  Of course, this only works if you happen to be debugging an ASP.NET application from within Visual Studio at the time.

Next (at Joel’s suggestion) I right-clicked on the main menu bar in Visual Studio and selected “Customize”.  I wanted to see if I could possibly add the item to my menu bar manually.  I selected the “Commands” tab, found the Script Explorer in the list, and dragged it onto my Debug/Windows menu.  After this, it worked as expected (enabled while I was debugging an application, and disabled otherwise).

I considered this a hack, though.  Why should this NOT be available on my menu bar right from the start?  I found a lot of references online to this window, especially in AJAX circles, but only a handful of people recognized that you may not see it initially:

None of them explained WHY it wouldn’t appear.


Dave Britton’s post made an interesting connection though.  In previous version(s) of Visual Studio the Script Explorer was called “Running Documents”.  This makes the keyboard combination of CTRL-ALT-N make more sense (“Script Explorer” – no N’s; “Running Documents” – 3 N’s).


So, it seems that I’m left with the terribly satisfying answer of “it’s just that way ‘cuz”.

March 12, 2007 - Posted by | Visual Studio/.NET

1 Comment

  1. The reason why some don’t see it and others do is the choice you made when you started Visual Studio the very first time, after installing. You are asked to choose a default collection of settings from this list (or similar):

    – Business Inteligence Settings
    – General Development Settings
    – Visual Basic Development Settings
    – Visual C# Development Settings
    – Web Development Settings

    This choice determines, among other things, the layout and content of toolbars and menus.

    You can always go back into Tools/Import and Export Settings and reset your settings to a different choice.

    Comment by Nick | October 28, 2008

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