What is Java profiling?

When it comes to developing a complex application, writing a Java code that just works fine is not enough. Java developers also need to monitor how the code performs internally like how memory is allocated to it, how it is integrating with other modules, implications of concurrent executions, areas where performance is not good, etc. This is where Java profiling comes into play.

Java profilers

Java profiling is performed using a profiler. It is a tool that monitors the Java bytecode constructs and operations at the JVM level. It monitors and successfully performs some core operations like object creation, iterative executions, recursive calls, method executions, thread executions, and garbage collections.

If you are new to Java profiling or willing to learn about it, the following are some excellent Java profiling tools that have been the preferred choice of developers for Java profiling.

1. JProfiler

JProfiler is the first choice of many developers when it comes to Java profiling. It is known for an intuitive user interface that provides separate interfaces for monitoring overall system performance, memory usage, potential memory leaks, and thread profiling. This information is ideal to identify any need for optimization or elimination in the system.

Jprofiler can be used for local as well as remote applications. It makes it very convenient for developers for Java profiling of applications that are running on remote machines. It also features advanced Java profiling for both SQL and NoSQL databases.

Live memory is one feature of the highlighted feature by JProfiler. It allows developers to monitor the current memory usage by all the running applications. You can view memory usage for each object declarations and instances. JProfiler can be easily integrated with all popular and commonly used IDEs like Eclipse, NetBeans, and IntelliJ making it easier for developers to work with JProfiler on their preferred IDE.

2. YourKit

YourKit can also be an excellent choice for Java profiling. Similar to JProfiler, YourKit offers some core features for visualizing threads, garbage collections, system memory usage, any potential memory leaks, and also offers support for local and remote profiling.

It can run on a variety of platforms and also provides separate installations for each supported operating system which includes Windows, MacOS, Linux, Solaris, FreeBSD, etc. A highlighting feature by YourKit is profiling thrown exceptions. Developers can easily identify the types of exceptions thrown and the number of times each exception occurred.

YourKit also has a unique CPU profiling feature that allows developers to focus the profiling on a particular area of their code like a module or subtrees in threads. It can prove to be a very powerful feature as it allows for conditional profiling. YourKit can also be used to profile SQL, and NoSQL database calls. It even provides a separate view for all the queries that have been executed.

3. Gradle

Gradle is another great tool used for Java profiling. It allows developers to easily minimize the errors and bugs in their code along with memory consumption and improves the power management and fetching up the data of executing threads, objects or instances.

Along with all the common features needed for Java profiling, its highlighting feature includes the benchmarking feature, which shows the exact time consume by the code in execution without affecting the execution time.

Developers can easily keep track of the total time taken for built, the loading time and total task execution time. It also notifies the developers when the task is executed, time taken in execution and how did it perform along with all the other relevant details including memory consumption and power  taken.

4. Java VisualVM

Java VisualVM is known as a simple yet robust Java code profiling tool among developers. By default, this Java VisualVM comes bundled with the Java Development Kit (JDK). Its operation depends on the other standalone tools included in the JDK, such as JConsole,  jstackjinfo,  jstat, and jmap.

Despite this dependency, one unique advantage of Java VisualVM is that developers can easily extend it to develop new functionalities as plugins. All the newly developed plugins can be added to the Java VisualVM’s built-in update center.

Java VisualVM also supports local and remote Java code profiling; it also supports remote memory usage monitoring and CPU profiling. Developers also have an option to choose to enable real-time profiling with instant updates while remote profiling. With the snapshot feature of Java VisualVM, developers can also take snapshots of profiling sessions for record keeping or for later analysis.

5. NetBeans Profiler

The NetBeans Profiler is another Java profiler that comes bundled with Oracle’s open-source NetBeans IDE.

It is needless to say that NetBeans Profiler shares a lot of similarities with Java VisualVM, but it becomes a good choice for developers who want to have everything wrapped as a single program including the IDE as well as the Profiler. Like many other profilers, Netbeans profiler also provides a variety of plugins to enhance the IDEs integration.

It is also a good choice for lightweight development and profiling. NetBeans Profiler has a simple approach as it provides a single window for configuring and controlling the profiling session and for displaying the results as well. It also offers a unique feature of identifying how frequently garbage collection occurs in an application.

6. Java Interactive Profiler  (JIP)

Java Interactive Profiler or JIP is a completely Java-coded profiler. It is a light-weighted Java profiler that can be efficiently used to fulfill all profiling needs. It has got some very unique features for instance; it offers ON and OFF features for developers. It seems very simple but it can be a very helpful feature for multiple measurements at runtime. It does not require anything else for installation and can be installed on all the platforms that support Java.

Lastly, it is an open-source software which makes it even more preferable among Java developers. It also uses the “javaagent” option that allows the developers to load the class, and when the class is loading, it allows developers to also modify the byte code of the class.

Another very helpful feature provided by Java Interactive Profiler is it allows filtration by class or packages which makes memory management, access and debugging way easier for developers.

7. Prefix by Stackify

Stackify’s Prefix is an excellent lightweight profiling tool, well-suited for profiling not only Java applications but other web applications as well. It offers a tracking feature to individually track any method in your code or even from a third-party library. Developers can easily track down methods that are working correctly but are low or consuming more memory. Developers can also monitor the performance of their code on remote servers in real time. It also offers to compare performance stats from quality assurance and production to your local request.

Being a lightweight profiler is what makes Prefix stand out. It takes significantly less space and memory to perform making it an ideal choice for developers with limited power and resources.

Conclusion

We have discussed what is Java profiling and some of the excellent Java profilers used in the industry. We went through the features of these Java profilers and what makes them a potential choice for a developer over another.

See also: Top 10 Best Java Profilers Of 2021

There are a lot more Java profilers available with unique characteristics but it is up to the developers to first understand the proper need for Java code profiling, how it is done and how it can facilitate their work. The final selection is majorly dependent on the developers considering the level of analysis required and the features needed for Java profiler.

Author

Shaharyar Lalani is a developer with a strong interest in business analysis, project management, and UX design. He writes and teaches extensively on themes current in the world of web and app development, especially in Java technology.

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