Zynthian Webconf debug with Visual Studio Code (VSC)

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Revision as of 06:43, 9 February 2022 by Riban (talk | contribs) (Minor gramatical corrections (only read first few paragraphs))
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Debugging Webconf with Visual Studio Code

This is presented as an example of how Visual Studio Code (VSC) can be used to examine a component of the Zynthian sub system as it runs using the Visual Studio Code extensions: Python & Remote-SSH. These are loaded using the cog dialog at the bottom of the Visual Studio Code page.

Vsc extentions detail.png

Once you have these components added you can attempt to log onto an existing Zynthian from your PC, MAC, or Linux machine, just so long as it's capable of running Visual Studio Code. In my own case I have it running on a 64-bit Raspbian instance and I had to build it from source to get it running which is a degree of proof of the overall flexibility of what is after all, a Microsoft product!

I also tend to add the git-graph extension.

Zynthian git graph

The ssh connection

The addition of the remote component adds the Remote Explorer element

Vsc remote explorer section.png

I already have a couple of remote Zynthians in the machine and VSC is pretty tenacious at hanging onto remote instances it knows about. But we will try to add a new machine.

I have a Zynthian called zynthian-orig.local. It's actually a genuine Zynthian product running a Pi3 and no membrane switches and some fairly simplistic interface. Indeed it has to be disassembled to change the ssd. Such were the early days.!

The fact that one can run this debug against the modern code is a sign of great overall consistancy.


Visual Studio Code Configure.

First we need to add the extensions.

Vsc extensions.png

activated by the cog in the bottom left hand corner of the Visual Studio Code interface This will give us a command line that will attempt to log on to the server we are pursuing.. . .

Vsc remote explorer dialog.png

So lets make sure that it is actually running.


To access this we press on the + button against the appropriate machine. Visual Studio Code keeps and manages accurate records on the ssh connections you have made. It's handling of details down to the passwords and such and it's overall willingness to just do stuff as you would expect.

Vsc remote explorer add new.png

The -A option...?

-A Enable forwarding of the authentication agent connection.

Vsc remote explorer dialog.png

We enter the details for our specific zynthian machine. Zynthian runs as root (atm). It always has done so make sure you put root in here. Many hours can be blissfully wile'd away wondering why you can see a machine you'vee loggged into as the wrong user.

Vsc remote explorer zynthian-orig.png
Vsc remote explorer first login.png

we enter the command we will use to access the remote zynthian which is ssh....

And login using the machines root password.

Vsc-remote explorer password.png

Once VSC has established a connection, it will download the appropriate python components to the zynthian to allow debugging to take place remotely. This make take some time and als o may complain about missing components, giv it some time it will get here if it possibly can....

Vsc setting up remote server.png
Vsc connected.png

and as you can see the zynthian-orig.local machine is recognised by visual studio code.

Vsc remote explorer connect to host.png

Selecting the home directory on the Remote server

We have logged onto the home directory for the root user, but that isn't where zynthian-webconf runs from.... We should also turn off the running instance but I've left that as a gotcha for later in this walk throu'

Vsc open a folder.png

VSC will pop up a helpful file location prompt to help this populated with the defualt, we however, wnt to change this.

Vsc select folder default.png

So we will be using zynthian-webconf so we need to select the appropriate folder location to run this from ... In our case /zynthian-zynthin-webconf/

Vsc select folder zynthian webconf.png

And when it's done it's stuff you can see and select the python file that runs webconf and examine it....

Vsc zynthian webconf head.png

Running the Debugger

Vsc start debugging.png
Vsc remote installing.png
Vsc debug selection.png
Vsc already in use.png

Turning off Running Webconf instance

We run the debugger,

Vsc address already in use with stop.png


but there is already a process running that has grabbed the port 80. It's the zynthian-webconf instance that is started by the raspberry pi when it starts up by systemd and this will need to be stopped to allow us to run our own instance....

So we use the terminal to generate a command line prompt and shout at systemd to turn of the running instance

systemctl stop zynthian-webconf

Vsc stop webconf systemd.png

And look it's no longer running!!!

Zynthian dead webconf.png

Running the debugger in anger ...

So leaving with the zynthian-webconf.py module highlighted start the debugger as before.

And then go and open the lib/midi_log_handler.py page once the web server is running and highlight the line 132 by pressing to the left of the line number a red circle should appear. . .

Vsc debug line 132.png

Then select the midi log page within webconf and play some midi . . . .

Zynthian-orig running midi.png

The program will halt on the debug line 132, and you should be able to operate the debugger transport controls and all the nice debug tools that will display and set values. The following shows it after step over has been pressed twice. . .

Vsc debug stepover.png