Tuesday, June 24, 2008

DTrace and Java - Observations and Docs

For a long time I've been hearing about DTrace and how cool it was. I read a lot about it and saw some presentation on observing Java apps with DTrace, but only recently have I found enough free time to extensively play with it. And oh boy, it really is cool. But even with all this coolness, dtracing Java apps feels a bit awkward.

I think there are two reasons for that. The D language, which looks like C, but has a few fundamental differences, is pretty far from what Java developers are used to. And the second reason is the fact that DTrace is in reality instrumenting JVM and not the application running in the JVM. This means that dtracing Java is limited by abilities of the Java DTrace provider and also that the transition between the different layers of the stack can add some awkwardness.

Having said that, DTrace is really awesome and can be enormously helpful in many cases when developing or troubleshooting (Java) apps.

One thing I really miss in DTrace is regex support in any part of D scripts. There is a limited globbing support and some workarounds, but they ain't pretty.

Here are some DTrace resources that I found useful:

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