Programs for producing static and dynamic (runtime) call graphs for Java programs
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Latest commit bd61ce5 Apr 3, 2017 @gousiosg Update documentation

java-callgraph: Java Call Graph Utilities

A suite of programs for generating static and dynamic call graphs in Java.

  • javacg-static: Reads classes from a jar file, walks down the method bodies and prints a table of caller-caller relationships.
  • javacg-dynamic: Runs as a Java agent and instruments the methods of a user-defined set of classes in order to track their invocations. At JVM exit, prints a table of caller-callee relationships, along with a number of calls


The java-callgraph package is build with maven. Install maven and do:

mvn install

This will produce a target directory with the following three jars:

  • javacg-0.1-SNAPSHOT.jar: This is the standard maven packaged jar with static and dynamic call graph generator classes
  • javacg-0.1-SNAPSHOT-static.jar: This is an executable jar which includes the static call graph generator
  • javacg-0.1-SNAPSHOT-dycg-agent.jar: This is an executable jar which includes the dynamic call graph generator


Instructions for running the callgraph generators


javacg-static accepts as arguments the jars to analyze.

java -jar javacg-0.1-SNAPSHOT-static.jar lib1.jar lib2.jar...

javacg-static produces combined output in the following format:

For methods
  M:class1:<method1>(arg_types) (typeofcall)class2:<method2>(arg_types)

The line means that method1 of class1 called method2 of class2. The type of call can have one of the following values (refer to the JVM specification for the meaning of the calls):

  • M for invokevirtual calls
  • I for invokeinterface calls
  • O for invokespecial calls
  • S for invokestatic calls
  • D for invokedynamic calls

For invokedynamic calls, it is not possible to infer the argument types.

For classes
  C:class1 class2

This means that some method(s) in class1 called some method(s) in class2.


javacg-dynamic uses javassist to insert probes at method entry and exit points. To be able to analyze a class javassist must resolve all dependent classes at instrumentation time. To do so, it reads classes from the JVM's boot classloader. By default, the JVM sets the boot classpath to use Java's default classpath implementation (rt.jar on Win/Linux, classes.jar on the Mac). The boot classpath can be extended using the -Xbootclasspath option, which works the same as the traditional -classpath option. It is advisable for javacg-dynamic to work as expected, to set the boot classpath to the same, or an appropriate subset, entries as the normal application classpath.

Moreover, since instrumenting all methods will produce huge callgraphs which are not necessarily helpful (e.g. it will include Java's default classpath entries), javacg-dynamic includes support for restricting the set of classes to be instrumented through include and exclude statements. The options are appended to the -javaagent argument and has the following format


The example above will instrument all classes under the the mylib, mylib2 and java.nio namespaces, except those that fall under the java.nio.charset namespace.

-classpath mylib.jar mylib.Mainclass

javacg-dynamic produces two kinds of output. On the standard output, it writes method call pairs as shown below:

class1:method1 class2:method2 numcalls

It also produces a file named calltrace.txt in which it writes the entry and exit timestamps for methods, thereby turning javacg-dynamic into a poor man's profiler. The format is the following:


The output line starts with a < or > depending on whether it is a method entry or exit. It then writes the stack depth, thread id and the class and method name, followed by a timestamp. The provided process_trace.rb script processes the callgraph output to generate total time per method information.


The following examples instrument the Dacapo benchmark suite to produce dynamic call graphs. The Dacapo benchmarks come in a single big jar archive that contains all dependency libraries. To build the boot class path required for the javacg-dyn program, extract the dacapo.jar to a directory: all the required libraries can be found in the jar directory.

Running the batik Dacapo benchmark:

java -Xbootclasspath:/System/Library/Java/JavaVirtualMachines/1.6.0.jdk/Contents/Classes/classes.jar:jar/batik-all.jar:jar/xml-apis-ext.jar -javaagent:target/javacg-0.1-SNAPSHOT-dycg-agent.jar="incl=org.apache.batik.*,org.w3c.*;" -jar dacapo-9.12-bach.jar batik -s small |tail -n 10

org.apache.batik.dom.AbstractParentNode:appendChild org.apache.batik.dom.AbstractParentNode:fireDOMNodeInsertedEvent 6270<br/>
org.apache.batik.dom.AbstractParentNode:fireDOMNodeInsertedEvent org.apache.batik.dom.AbstractDocument:getEventsEnabled 6280<br/>
org.apache.batik.dom.AbstractParentNode:checkAndRemove org.apache.batik.dom.AbstractNode:getOwnerDocument 6280<br/>
org.apache.batik.dom.util.DoublyIndexedTable:put org.apache.batik.dom.util.DoublyIndexedTable$Entry:DoublyIndexedTable$Entry 6682<br/>
org.apache.batik.dom.util.DoublyIndexedTable:put org.apache.batik.dom.util.DoublyIndexedTable:hashCode 6693<br/>
org.apache.batik.dom.AbstractElement:invalidateElementsByTagName org.apache.batik.dom.AbstractElement:getNodeType 7198<br/>
org.apache.batik.dom.AbstractElement:invalidateElementsByTagName org.apache.batik.dom.AbstractDocument:getElementsByTagName 14396<br/>
org.apache.batik.dom.AbstractElement:invalidateElementsByTagName org.apache.batik.dom.AbstractDocument:getElementsByTagNameNS 28792<br/>

Running the lucene Dacapo benchmark:

java -Xbootclasspath:/System/Library/Java/JavaVirtualMachines/1.6.0.jdk/Contents/Classes/classes.jar:jar/lucene-core-2.4.jar:jar/luindex.jar -javaagent:target/javacg-0.1-SNAPSHOT-dycg-agent.jar="incl=org.apache.lucene.*;" -jar dacapo-9.12-bach.jar luindex -s small |tail -n 10

org.apache.lucene.analysis.Token:setTermBuffer org.apache.lucene.analysis.Token:growTermBuffer 43449<br/>
org.apache.lucene.analysis.CharArraySet:getSlot org.apache.lucene.analysis.CharArraySet:getHashCode 43472<br/>
org.apache.lucene.analysis.CharArraySet:getSlot org.apache.lucene.analysis.CharArraySet:equals 46107<br/>
org.apache.lucene.index.FreqProxTermsWriter:appendPostings 46507<br/> org.apache.lucene.index.ByteSliceReader:readByte 63927<br/>
org.apache.lucene.index.TermsHashPerField:writeVInt org.apache.lucene.index.TermsHashPerField:writeByte 63927<br/> 94239<br/>
org.apache.lucene.index.TermsHashPerField:quickSort org.apache.lucene.index.TermsHashPerField:comparePostings 107343<br/>
org.apache.lucene.analysis.Token:termBuffer org.apache.lucene.analysis.Token:initTermBuffer 162115<br/>
org.apache.lucene.analysis.Token:termLength org.apache.lucene.analysis.Token:initTermBuffer 205554<br/>

Known Restrictions

  • The static call graph generator does not account for methods invoked via reflection.
  • The dynamic call graph generator will not work reliably (or at all) for multithreaded programs
  • The dynamic call graph generator does not handle exceptions very well, so some methods might appear as having never returned


Georgios Gousios


2-clause BSD