Code profiling is the process of evaluating your code in order to improve your application’s performance. It’s aimed at localizing bottlenecks, eliminating legacy solutions, and optimizing memory use. In this article, we explore code profiling in detail – read on if it’s a topic of interest to you!
Code Profiling: Definition
What exactly is code profiling? It’s the process of analyzing a code while it’s running. Profiling is mostly focused on finding those parts of code that are underperforming, meaning that they’re slower than the others.
Code profiling is usually performed with specialized code profiling tools dedicated to the particular programming language in which the code is written. Depending on the programs used, code profiling may track things like:
- memory allocations,
- garbage collections,
- key methods in your code,
- SQL statements frequency,
- web service call frequency,
- web requests.
Types of Code Profiling
There are several methods by which you can conduct profiling collection. Let’s look at them in more detail.
Instrumentation code profiling injects code at the start and end of each routine to track where it starts and ends. The time of the process is recorded and sent to the developer. It is especially accurate in single-process operating systems, such as those found in simple embedded systems.
There are generally two downsides to this method. The first is that this type of code profiling does not measure kernel latency, which practically affects all task start-up times. Secondly, it’s ineffective for measuring tasks involving the OS, as it’s not documented well enough.
In sample code profiling, the profiler collects statistical data about the app’s work at regular intervals. The main downside of this method is that it might not collect data on processes that run quickly or rarely.
An advantage of sampling, on the other hand, is that it does not require you to insert any extra code into the program.
This method is utilized for systems that run multiple threads. In it, the profiler collects data on the processes waiting for execution. This helps understand the process and measure the time that it takes to have the process executed while letting you collect data on the status of each thread:
Memory profilers gather information about…memory usage. They are utilized to allocate chunks of memory and to collect information on thrash collection, along with collecting information about the kind, size, and number of objects generated or removed.
Failure Emulator Profiling
This type of profiling is used to simulate code errors and evaluate how your app handles them. It enables you to, for instance, verify whether an error prompts the display of a corresponding message.
Failure emulator code profiling is mostly utilized when you need to test your application for unsupported or unexpected values. Most tools using this technique let you simulate a plethora of different failures to truly see whether your embedded system is error-proof.
Challenges in Code Profiling
Code profiling, though beneficial, faces some challenges, ones that might deter some developers from performing it. These include:
In some cases, so much code is added to conduct profiling that the system slows down as a result. This is completely counterproductive – in such cases, the only option is to select a different profiling method or review the code manually.
Switching between Measurements
Another obstacle is collecting all the required information at once. A good profiler should be able to switch between checking the memory, the processes, and sampling quickly without impacting the performance, which is difficult to achieve.
Ease of Use
Developers need to configure profilers, which often takes time and might pose a challenge itself. This makes it more difficult to conduct code profiling for those, who are inexperienced in this field.
One way to overcome this challenge is to use profilers that are easy to use. These, however, are scarce and won’t always fully meet the needs of your embedded system.
Why Should You Introduce Code Profiling for Your Embedded Systems?
Code profiling enables you to test your code’s performance without the need actually to delve into a thorough, manual analysis. It also helps you understand the code and makes it clearer.
This is why code profiling is often used alongside code debugging, with the former working to improve an embedded system’s performance and the latter ensuring that it’s bug-free.
Additionally, you can use profiling to shorten your development cycles and speed up the time-to-market. Plus, code profiling pays off in better customer satisfaction or even improved sales. After all, long loading times or mediocre performance might discourage people from purchasing your embedded systems, and code profiling prevents that from happening.
What is code profiling? It’s the process of evaluating your code while it runs. Usually, it’s done with the use of special tools that enable the developer to focus on particular key areas of an application. Even though code profiling is quite effective, it might not often be enough due to the many obstacles that it faces. This is why it’s wise to combine it with regular code audits.
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