[erlang-questions] Erlang tracing

Lukas Larsson <>
Mon Sep 21 10:52:05 CEST 2015


Hello everyone.

As you may know, one of the OTP teams focus areas for the coming year is
make tracing better. At the moment we are gathering ideas and attempting to
put together a vision of what we would like to have, before deciding what
we can make.

I'm pretty sure that many of you have much more experience with using
Erlang tracing while developing and in production than I do, which is we
would love to have your input as to what you would like to change about
tracing.

To set the scope of the discussion, when I say tracing I include; erlang
tracing, dtrace/systemtap, trace outputs (stdout/file/IP), filtering
through match specs, sequence tracing, tool integration (dbg, fprof,
redbug, recon to mention some) and probably more.

To start the discussion, here are a few of my ideas in no particular order:
  * Allow multiple tracers. Today only one port/process can be the receiver
of trace data.
  * Create a couple of scalable high throughput tracing output backends
with different overflow mechanics. Today all tracing is funneled through
one bottleneck and has no overflow handling at all.
  * Expose vm probes (today dtrace probes) to the erlang tracer.
  * Better integration of dtrace/lttngt/systemtap into the erlang trace.
  * Allow the erlang tracer to be an Erlang callback module. Today only
ports/processes are allowed.
  * Optimize trace output to file/ip. Maybe use something like the Common
Trace Format (
http://git.efficios.com/?p=ctf.git;a=blob_plain;f=common-trace-format-specification.md;hb=master),
instead of the term_to_binary that we have today.
  * Write much much better documentation for dbg :)

We are looking for feedback from both beginners as well as seasoned
veterans to make erlang tracing the best it can be. So if you have any
thoughts or ideas, join the discussion to make Erlang tracing better for
you and everyone else.

Thanks in advance,
Lukas
Erlang/OTP team
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