Code Sample - StackTrace with manual Symbol lookup

// Sample to demonstrate creating a stack trace with source location information while controlling
// how PDB files are located.
// Written by Rick Byers -
// 6/21/2007 - Initial version

using System;
using System.Collections.Generic;
using System.Diagnostics;
using System.Diagnostics.SymbolStore;
using System.Runtime.InteropServices;
using System.Reflection;

// Use MDbg's managed wrappers over the corysm.idl (diasymreader.dll) COM APIs
// Must reference MDbgCore.dll from the .NET SDK or corapi.dll from the MDbg sample:
using Microsoft.Samples.Debugging.CorSymbolStore;

namespace ManualSymbolStackTrace
/// <summary>
/// A class for producing stack traces with file and line number information using custom PDB
/// lookup logic.
/// </summary>
/// <remarks>
/// The CLR's StackTrace class will only load PDBs that are next to their corresponding module (or
/// in a few other standard locations like the _NT_SYMBOL_PATH environment variable and system directory).
/// PDBs are considered a development-time-only scenario (not intended for use in production), and so usually
/// are directly next to the image. However, this is sometimes too restrictive for some development/testing
/// scenarios. Use this class to get stack traces with full source info when you want to find PDBs elsewhere,
/// such as in specific paths or on a symbol server.
/// An alternate (often superior) approach that could be taken using the same basic code would be to
/// save the stack traces in a computer readable form (XML perhaps) with module names, method tokens
/// and IL offsets. Then build a tool that takes this as input and after-the-fact loads PDBs to
/// create a full stack trace with source information. The main benefit of this is that it avoids
/// having to make your PDBs available to all the test machines running your code.
/// For error-reporting and diagnosis scenarios in production, Microsoft suggests the use of Windows
/// Error Reporting (
/// Note that some of this code is adapted from
/// </remarks>
public class StackTraceSymbolProvider
/// <summary>
/// Create a new instance with a specified policy for finding symbols
/// </summary>
/// <param name="searchPath">A semi-colon separated list of additional paths to check</param>
/// <param name="searchPolicy">A set of flags saying how symbols can be located:
/// AllowRegistryAccess - allow lookup in paths specified in the registry (not sure where exactly)
/// AllowSymbolServerAccess - allow paths starting with "srv*" to load PDBs from a symbol server
/// AllowOriginalPathAccess - will look in the original directory the PDB was built into
/// AllowReferencePathAccess - will look in the directory next to the exe/dll
/// </param>
public StackTraceSymbolProvider(string searchPath, SymSearchPolicies searchPolicy)
m_searchPath = searchPath;
m_searchPolicy = searchPolicy;

// Create a COM Metadata dispenser to use for all modules
Guid dispenserClassID = new Guid(0xe5cb7a31, 0x7512, 0x11d2, 0x89, 0xce, 0x00, 0x80, 0xc7, 0x92, 0xe5, 0xd8); // CLSID_CorMetaDataDispenser
Guid dispenserIID = new Guid(0x809c652e, 0x7396, 0x11d2, 0x97, 0x71, 0x00, 0xa0, 0xc9, 0xb4, 0xd5, 0x0c); // IID_IMetaDataDispenser
object objDispenser;
CoCreateInstance(ref dispenserClassID, null, 1, ref dispenserIID, out objDispenser);
m_metadataDispenser = (IMetaDataDispenser)objDispenser;

// Create a binder from MDbg's wrappers over ISymUnmanagedBinder2
m_symBinder = new SymbolBinder();

/// <summary>
/// Create a symbol reader object corresponding to the specified module (DLL/EXE)
/// </summary>
/// <param name="modulePath">Full path to the module of interest</param>
/// <returns>A symbol reader object, or null if no matching PDB symbols can located</returns>
private ISymbolReader CreateSymbolReaderForFile(string modulePath)
// First we need to get a metadata importer for the module to provide to the symbol reader
// This is basically the same as MDbg's SymbolAccess.GetReaderForFile method, except that it
// unfortunately does not have an overload that allows us to provide the searchPolicies
Guid importerIID = new Guid(0x7dac8207, 0xd3ae, 0x4c75, 0x9b, 0x67, 0x92, 0x80, 0x1a, 0x49, 0x7d, 0x44); // IID_IMetaDataImport

// Open an Importer on the given filename. We'll end up passing this importer straight
// through to the Binder.
object objImporter;
m_metadataDispenser.OpenScope(modulePath, 0, ref importerIID, out objImporter);

// Call ISymUnmanagedBinder2.GetReaderForFile2 to load the PDB file (if any)
// Note that ultimately how this PDB file is located is determined by
// IDiaDataSource::loadDataForExe. See the DIA SDK documentation for details.
ISymbolReader reader = m_symBinder.GetReaderForFile(objImporter, modulePath, m_searchPath, m_searchPolicy);
return reader;

/// <summary>
/// Get or create a symbol reader for the specified module (caching the result)
/// </summary>
/// <param name="modulePath">Full path to the module of interest</param>
/// <returns>A symbol reader for the specified module or null if none could be found</returns>
private ISymbolReader GetSymbolReaderForFile(string modulePath)
ISymbolReader reader;
if (!m_symReaders.TryGetValue(modulePath, out reader))
reader = CreateSymbolReaderForFile(modulePath);
m_symReaders.Add(modulePath, reader);
return reader;

/// <summary>
/// Get a texual representing of the supplied stack trace including source file names
/// and line numbers, using the PDB lookup options supplied at construction.
/// </summary>
/// <param name="stackTrace">The stack trace to convert to text</param>
/// <returns>A string in a format similar to StackTrace.ToString but whith file names and
/// line numbers even when they're not available to the built-in StackTrace class.</returns>
public string StackTraceToStringWithSourceInfo(StackTrace stackTrace)
System.Text.StringBuilder sb = new System.Text.StringBuilder();

foreach(StackFrame stackFrame in stackTrace.GetFrames())
MethodBase method = stackFrame.GetMethod();

// Format the stack trace line similarily to how the built-in StackTrace class does.
// Some differences (simplifications here): generics, nested types, argument names
string methodString = method.ToString(); // this is "RetType FuncName(args)
string sig = String.Format(" at {0}.{1}",
methodString.Substring(methodString.IndexOf(' ')+1));

// Append source location information if we can find PDBs
string sourceLoc = GetSourceLoc(method, stackFrame.GetILOffset());
if (sourceLoc != null)
sig += " in " + sourceLoc;

return sb.ToString();

/// <summary>
/// Get a string representing the source location for the given IL offset and method
/// </summary>
/// <param name="method">The method of interest</param>
/// <param name="ilOffset">The offset into the IL</param>
/// <returns>A string of the format [filepath]:[line] (eg. "C:\temp\foo.cs:123"), or null
/// if a matching PDB couldn't be found</returns>
private string GetSourceLoc(MethodBase method, int ilOffset)
// Get the symbol reader corresponding to the module of the supplied method
string modulePath = method.Module.FullyQualifiedName;
ISymbolReader symReader = GetSymbolReaderForFile(modulePath);
if (symReader == null)
return null; // no matching PDB found

ISymbolMethod symMethod = symReader.GetMethod(new SymbolToken(method.MetadataToken));

// Get all the sequence points for the method
ISymbolDocument [] docs = new ISymbolDocument[symMethod.SequencePointCount];
int [] lineNumbers = new int[symMethod.SequencePointCount];
int [] ilOffsets = new int[symMethod.SequencePointCount];
symMethod.GetSequencePoints(ilOffsets, docs, lineNumbers, null, null, null);

// Find the closest sequence point to the requested offset
// Sequence points are returned sorted by offset so we're looking for the last one with
// an offset less than or equal to the requested offset.
// Note that this won't necessarily match the real source location exactly if
// the code was jit-compiled with optimizations.
int i;
for (i = 0; i < symMethod.SequencePointCount; i++)
if (ilOffsets[i] > ilOffset)
// Found the first mismatch, back up if it wasn't the first
if (i > 0)

// Now return the source file and line number for this sequence point
return String.Format("{0}:{1}", docs[i].URL, lineNumbers[i]);

// We could easily add other APIs similar to those available on StackTrace (and StackFrame)

private IMetaDataDispenser m_metadataDispenser;
private SymbolBinder m_symBinder;
private string m_searchPath;
private SymSearchPolicies m_searchPolicy;

// Map from module path to symbol reader
private Dictionary<string,ISymbolReader> m_symReaders = new Dictionary<string,ISymbolReader>();

#region Metadata Imports

// Bare bones COM-interop definition of the IMetaDataDispenser API
[Guid("809c652e-7396-11d2-9771-00a0c9b4d50c"), InterfaceType(ComInterfaceType.InterfaceIsIUnknown)]
private interface IMetaDataDispenser
// We need to be able to call OpenScope, which is the 2nd vtable slot.
// Thus we need this one placeholder here to occupy the first slot..
void DefineScope_Placeholder();

//STDMETHOD(OpenScope)( // Return code.
//LPCWSTR szScope, // [in] The scope to open.
// DWORD dwOpenFlags, // [in] Open mode flags.
// REFIID riid, // [in] The interface desired.
// IUnknown **ppIUnk) PURE; // [out] Return interface on success.
void OpenScope([In, MarshalAs(UnmanagedType.LPWStr)] String szScope, [In] Int32 dwOpenFlags, [In] ref Guid riid, [Out, MarshalAs(UnmanagedType.IUnknown)] out Object punk);

// Don't need any other methods.

// Since we're just blindly passing this interface through managed code to the Symbinder, we don't care about actually
// importing the specific methods.
// This needs to be public so that we can call Marshal.GetComInterfaceForObject() on it to get the
// underlying metadata pointer.
[Guid("7DAC8207-D3AE-4c75-9B67-92801A497D44"), InterfaceType(ComInterfaceType.InterfaceIsIUnknown)]
public interface IMetadataImport
// Just need a single placeholder method so that it doesn't complain about an empty interface.
void Placeholder();

private static extern int CoCreateInstance([In] ref Guid rclsid,
[In, MarshalAs(UnmanagedType.IUnknown)] Object pUnkOuter,
[In] uint dwClsContext,
[In] ref Guid riid,
[Out, MarshalAs(UnmanagedType.Interface)] out Object ppv);


Comments (3)

  1. Rick Byers says:

    The System.Diagnostics.StackTrace class in .NET can be used to generate a textual representation of the

  2. Jefe says:

    Hello Rick,

    I tried your code, but I have a problem with the SearchPath. I'm running this code for a pdb that is symbol served to a network drive. If I specify the search path to the actual pdb on network shared drive it all worked fine, but I can't make it to work with any other path, and obviously I don't want to specify the search path in that way since I don't which version of pdb the exe is using.


  3. Jefe, see my response to your duplicate question here:

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