EQATEC Profiler: An Application Code Profiler for the .NET Compact Framework

by Abel Avram on May 08, 2008 |

EQATEC has created a code profiler for applications  written for the .NET Compact Framework. Initially written for their own needs, EQATEC decided to release the profiler to the entire community of .NET Compact Framework developers. This is not a memory usage profiler, but a tool used to detect application bottlenecks, the places in the code where most of processing time is spent.

These are the main features according to EQATEC:

  • Code profiler for optimizing your application's speed/performance, not a memory profiler
  • Very low overhead; typically less than 30% longer runtime and 50% extra code size
  • All .NET 2.0/3.5 Compact Framework (.NET CF) applications can be profiled
  • Command-line version can integrate profiling into your auto build
  • Precise instrumentation, as opposed to sampling profilers
  • Will profile methods, not individual statements
  • Full call-graph details are reported
  • 100% free for all to use

Running this profiler is simple. The application is compiled as usually, then the profiler is used to inject binary code into the assemblies which are to be monitored. The application is then run on the device producing a report which is loaded into the profiler viewer for analysis.

There are some limitations to the profiler according to EQATEC:

  • User-defined generics are not supported. If you define your own generic type of method the resulting assembly currently would not work. Right now the profiler simply skips all assemblies containing generics, but that's pretty annoying. Fixing this has top priority.
  • Recursive methods is reported as sum of the calls. The viewer should be more clever in this respect.
  • Blocking methods, such as Read(), will be counted as the total time, including the time the thread spends being unscheduled and waiting for the call to complete.
  • Strong-name signed assemblies are not supported now. They would have to be re-signed after having been profiled. This feature is currently missing.
  • No debug information is available for the profiled assemblies. It means that you cannot debug the profiled versions - but you would probably not like to do that, anyway.
  • No Visual Studio integration yet. We'd like to create an add-in that will make it even easier to enable profiling your solution's assembly files.

 A video demo of the profiler is available. The profiler can be downloaded here.

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