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What Is the Best Way To Profile a Java Application in Eclipse?


What Is the Best Way To Profile a Java Application in Eclipse?

Solving performance issues and debugging during the production stage can take a lot of time and effort. Moreover, sometimes it can be impossible to do without the right tools. Java application profiling enables you to analyze your app’s performance, and it can involve various activities.

For example, standard Java Virtual Machine (JVM) profilers offer CPU, thread, and profiling. However, using one profiler is not enough if you want to evaluate your app properly. There are different profilers available, so what is the best way to profile your Java application in Eclipse? In this article, we will consider profiling in more detail to find the answer.

What Profiling Is

Profiling is a term that is often used when talking about the analysis of apps. Profiling enables developers to evaluate the execution time of methods so that they can detect problems and improve the overall performance. When it comes to Java development, profiling also includes analyzing numerous metrics and enables developers to debug runtime objects and threads.

Java application profiling offers numerous benefits. For example, developers can search the allocation of references and objects to detect and fix memory leaks. Profiling also enables you to investigate the synchronization and allocation of threads to detect problems with locking and evaluate the competition for access to data. Besides, you can analyze the use of the heap and the frequency of garbage collection.

What Is the Best Way To Profile a Java Application in Eclipse?
What Is the Best Way To Profile a Java Application in Eclipse?

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Why You Need Application Profiling

Usually, profiling is conducted at the development stage. Its main objectives are to improve the overall performance of the application, understand what happens in the application when it runs, and detect and fix bugs that are difficult to find. Short development cycles often make developers focus on functionality, doing debugging, testing, and fixing code. However, there are many issues that don’t manifest themselves until the app is already in production mode.

Issues that you can detect at the production stage are impossible to find with a debugging session. Before your app is deployed, you should use profiling tools to find and analyze performance issues, including resource limitations, object leaks, and bottlenecks.

Java Profiling Tools

There are many tools that enable you to do application profiling, and it can be difficult to understand which of them you should use. Generally, there are three major groups of Java profilers: standard JVM profilers, lightweight profilers, and application performance management (APM) tools. The best approach is to use multiple profilers because this way, you’ll be able to detect more issues. All profilers are different, and all of them have their strengths and weaknesses. As a result, using a combination of different tools is the right solution if you want to see the bigger picture.

Standard JVM Profilers

Standard JVM profilers can provide you with a lot of data. The track memory usage and all method calls, being good tools for detecting memory leaks. Such profilers enable you to see all the details of memory usage and determine what objects or classes are responsible for leaks. Standard JVM profilers also enable you to collect garbage manually and then check memory consumption, understanding what processes and classes lead to memory errors. Garbage collection is one of the main challenges of Java performance monitoring, and profiling tools can help you with it.

Given that profiling takes place during the development stage, it’s important to keep in mind that profiling tools can be integrated with development platforms. For instance, Eclipse offers everything you need to build integrated development environments (IDE), including Java development tools and the Eclipse SDK. Not only does it include useful development tools, but it also has its profiling tool, the Eclipse Test & Performance Tools Platform (TPTP). Given that this tool is integrated with Eclipse, it’s easy to use, and it also enables you to extend and adjust data collection by using your own agents.

What Is the Best Way To Profile a Java Application in Eclipse?
What Is the Best Way To Profile a Java Application in Eclipse?

[image: Source unsplash.com]

Although standard JVM profilers can be very helpful, they also have certain disadvantages. First, to make profiling detailed, you need a lot of processing power, so such solutions slow down applications. Secondly, they should be directly connected to the target JVM so the usage is usually limited to development environments.

Lightweight Transaction Profilers

Solutions like Stackify Prefix add themselves to the code itself. Prefix is a dynamic code profiler that relies on Java Instrumentation API to inject its code into applications. This approach is called Java Agent profiler method. Prefix enables you to rewrite the code at the bytecode level so you can instrument any code, whether it be your code or third-party libraries. Prefix also knows the most common libraries and cases that developers might most likely want to instrument. Therefore, you don’t need to provide details on all of them, and you can also see the stats from the instrumentation.

APM Tools

Application performance management is another approach that can help you monitor the performance of your apps and optimize them. The previous two types of profilers work well during the development stage, but they won’t help you track your app’s performance in production. Neither development nor staging setups don’t involve the same load and datasets as production. Most APM solutions are based on the Java Agent profiler method, but their instrumentation rules are different from those of lightweight dynamic code profilers. APM tools don’t affect performance and provide the most useful information in a smart way, saving CPU cycles.

For instance, Stackify Retrace is somewhat similar to Prefix, and it also runs perfectly in both staging and production environments. This tool aggregates timing data and samples traces, providing developers with method-level visibility into the code. If there is a slow web request, it translates into a trace that you can see in Retrace. You can go deeper from this point and determine what methods caused the problem.

Wrapping Up

As you can see, different types of profilers offer different benefits. Standard profilers are a good solution at the development stage. However, they are not useful when it comes to the production environment. So, what is the best way to profile a Java app in Eclipse? The best approach is to combine different profiles. Java Agent profilers and APM tools can help you detect problems during the production stage, and they also provide the necessary information in a dynamic way. All profilers utilize unique approaches to tracking performance issues so combining different tools enables you to detect more issues and fix them at the right moment.

Author Bio 

Melissa Mauro is a freelance writer who creates quality and original content. She is working for the companies Best Writers Online and Writing Judge  writing services review. She believes that creativity and improvement are things, which distinguish a good writer.

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