A toolkit for tracing C/C++ program, to generate a time-line based call graph.
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A toolkit for tracing C/C++ program(including multi-thread program), it's used to generate a time-line based callgraph, which will guide us to understand the core of the program extremely fast at the beginning.

The devil is in the details...

Imagine that, if there is a 10 years old huge project will be migrated to us, and the corresponding requirements will come soon as well(like new features, bug fix..), how can we locate to the core path in a very limited time? So we need a powerful tool to help us. This time-line based callgraph will save us a lot of time to deal with the complex details, we can focus on the more important things, and make the life easier.

And also we can use it as a source code index in the entire working cycles, especially for a very complex program. Everytime we want to remember something from high level, we can use it, just follow the callgraph flow, to see how it works, as well as we might identify some problems from it :)

Also, there are some existing Callgraphs of Lua5.3.3 and Redis3.2.5, we can use them directly without any addtional efforts.

ftracer demo

Before Start

Please note that, the tracer works for us in the following scenarios:

  • We can touch the source code, and easy to re-compile it in our dev environment
  • We need a time-line based call graph

If NOT, we might need some other callgraph tools.


  • The program has core dump issue, it may not help us, currently we should use gdb to fix it first

How to Use it

Check out

git clone git@github.com:finaldie/ftracer.git

Compile ftracer


Re-Compile Target Program

To make the tracer working, we should re-compile the application with -g -finstrument-functions flags

make CFLAGS+="-g -finstrument-functions -O0"

NOTE: Make sure there is no optimization option like -O2, if exist, replace it with -O0 or just drop it. Btw, we can try the examples in ftracer

Generate Call Graph Report

  • PRELOAD ftracer.so in the wrapper script

    bash $ cat run.sh
    export LD_PRELOAD=/path/to/ftracer.so
  • Run it

  • Generate the Report

    cd tools
    ./gen_report.sh -e yourapp -f /tmp/trace.txt


env variables

  • Start tracer when entering into a specific function address

    export FTRACER_FUNC_ENTRY=xxx  # xxx is the function address, like 0000123
  • Start tracer when receiving a specific signal

    export FTRACER_SIG_NUM=10 # 10 is SIGUSR1, kill -s SIGUSR1 PID to start tracer
  • Specific a output tracer file

    export FTRACER_FILE=/tmp/your_tracer_file

NOTE: About the two features signal and function address entrance, they can not enable in the same time, if that, the signal feature will not be take effect.

gen_report Options

  • -e Program Location

    The absolute program path, for example /bin/ls

  • -f Raw trace file dumped by the program

    By default, the raw trace file is always in /tmp/trace.txt, use -f /tmp/trace.txt all the time should be OK

  • -s Regex Symbol Filter

    Sometimes, we deal with C++ programs, there are a lot of noises in there, like std, boost... so we should filter them out.
    For this, we should use -s arg, for example:

    gen_report.sh -e app -f /tmp/trace.txt -s "^std::"
  • -S Filter by file/path

    For this, the -S arg will help us, for example, if we want to filter all the c++ related information out:

    gen_report.sh -e app -f /tmp/trace.txt -S /include/c++
  • -p Keep at most N level of path

    If a path is too long, it will be a noise for us, so the -p parameter will help to keep at most N level of path, for example, there is a path /path/a/b/c/d.c, use -p 1 the path in the report will be c/d.c.
    If no -p or -p value is a negative number, this feature will be ignore

  • -o Specific output folder

    The default output folder is /tmp, but if we want to specific another folder, -o output will help us.

  • -d Don't cleanup the temporay data

    If we get some wrong data when running gen_report.sh, the temporay data will help us to debug what's happened, so if we want to debug it, pass the -d paramter.

  • -v Show debug info

    If we need more information during the report generating, pass -v in

  • -t Start N process to generate report

    The addr2line is slow, sometimes we need to start N processes to generate the report in parallel, it will reduce the generating time. For example -t 4

  • -F output format

    Default output format is plain, and we also can specific html format, for example -F html, this will be greatly helpful when we are dealing with a very big call graph. Lua5.3.3 Callgraph

Enjoy and Analyze the Report

For now, open the /tmp/trace_report.txt.threadid and enjoy it. The example like:

 1x main(/home/username/github/ftracer/example/test.c:44) - (called from ??:0)
.. 3x a(/home/username/github/ftracer/example/test.c:36) - (called from test.c:45)
.... 1x b(/home/username/github/ftracer/example/test.c:21) - (called from test.c:39)
...... 1x c(/home/username/github/ftracer/example/test.c:16) - (called from test.c:25)
.... 1x b(/home/username/github/ftracer/example/test.c:21) - (called from test.c:39)
...... 2x d(/home/username/github/ftracer/example/test.c:11) - (called from test.c:27)
...... 1x e(/home/username/github/ftracer/example/test.c:6) - (called from test.c:31)

More detail see the example, and Contact Me, let's do it better :D