Analyzing Tracepoint Output

Last week I had this displeasure of tracking down a fairly unpleasant reference counting bug. I wound up having to solve the problem by brute force:

  1. Set a breakpoint in the constructor of leaking object

  2. Set a data breakpoint on the object’s reference count variable

  3. Change the data breakpoint to a tracepoint that prints the callstack (see dialog)

  4. Match up the callstacks.

Tracepoint screen shot

However, my tracepoint was hit so often that matching up callstacks by hand proved to be impossible. To help, I wrote a little tool that I decided to post. The tool does some basic analysis of the tracepoint output – compute a database of all callstacks with their hit count, and compute a calltree with hit count. While matching up the callstacks was still not easy, it did help.
Basically, the tool gave me two things:

  1. In places where an AddRef and Release where matched with the same callstack, I could bucket all of these callstacks together and eliminate them quickly

  2. If CFoo::CFoo called AddRef and CFoo::~CFoo called release, I could easily filter out the callstacks that contained neither CFoo::CFoo or CFoo::~CFoo. If the resulting callstacks balanced out (just as many CFoo::CFoo as CFoo::~CFoo) then I could throw out all these callstacks quickly.

The code for my tool is in the attached ‘TracepointAnalysis.cs’ file. Here is some example code to call it:


    static void Main(string[] args)


        List<Callstack> stacks;

        List<CallTreeNode> callTreeRoots;


        CallstackFilter filter = delegate(CallstackKey key) {

            return key.Contains(“CFoo::CFoo”) || key.Contains(“CFoo::~CFoo”);



        TracepointAnalysis.ReadFile(@”c:\log.txt”, filter, out stacks,

            out callTreeRoots);






    private static void DumpCallTree(List<CallTreeNode> roots)


        foreach (CallTreeNode root in roots)






    private static void DumpStacks(List<Callstack> list)


        // Sort the stacks by their hit count

        Comparison<Callstack> comparison = delegate(Callstack a, Callstack b)


            return a.HitCount – b.HitCount;




        foreach (Callstack item in list)






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