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Scaling an Object-oriented System Execution Visualizer through Sampling

Andrew Chan, Reid Holmes, Gail C. Murphy, and Annie T.T. Ying

Proceedings of 11th IEEE International Workshop on Program Comprehension, May 2003, to appear.



Increasingly, applications are being built by combining existing software components. For the most part, a software developer can treat the components as black-boxes. However, for some tasks, such as when performance tuning, a developer must consider how the components are implemented and how they interact. In these cases, a developer may be able to perform the task more effectively by using dynamic information about how the system executes. In previous work, we demonstrated the utility of a tool, called AVID (Architectural VIsualization of Dynamics), that animates dynamic information in terms of developer-chosen architectural views. One limitation of this earlier was that AVID relied on trace information collected about the system's execution; traces for even small parts of a system's execution can be enormous, limiting the duration of execution that can be considered. To enable AVID to scale to larger, longer-running systems, we have been investigating the visualization and animation of sampled dynamic information. In this paper, we discuss the addition of sampling support to AVID, and we present two case studies in which we experimented with animating sampled dynamic information to help with performance tuning tasks.

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