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What Is Tool Gear?

Tool Gear is infrastructure for creating debugging and performance tools. You can think of it as a GUI that can be shared by a variety analysis tools. The common feature of these tools is that they collect information about specific lines of a program. The Tool Gear viewer organizes this information and presents it to users in a form that is easy to navigate.

A number of tools have been built with Tool Gear. Each is independent of the others, so you do not need to download them together.

Developing Tool Gear Tools

Tool Gear tools can work in one of two ways. Tool Gear was originally designed as an interface for inserting and reading dynamic instrumentation. This version is now little-used. The simpler and more common usage is for a back-end tool to gather information about some aspect of a program in the form of short text messages that are associated with one or more lines of source code. The messages may be generated at run time by a tool that looks for errors or monitors performance, or they could be generated by a compiler to report warnings or information about the source code. The Tool Gear viewer (see figure below) can read a complete file containing a full set of messages, or it can add messages to the display on the fly as it reads from a continually updated file.

Screen shot of Tool Gear viewer

Each message has a header line similar to the subject line of an e-mail message. The messages should fall into well-defined categories, such as types of errors. The back-end tool writes an output file in XML format listing all the messages, their categories, and their associated lines of source code. The Tool Gear viewer reads this file, gathers messages by category, and presents these categories to the user in a pull-down menu. Selecting a category presents the header lines of all the corresponding messages. The user can then choose a message to see its full contents and also see the corresponding source code in a separate pane. If the tool recorded the call stack for a message in addition to the specific source line, the viewer can show the source for any level in the stack, assuming the source code is available.

The viewer includes conveniences such as searching the displays, setting a search path for locating source code, and changing the display font.

Using the Tool Gear viewer for a new tool involves three steps:

  1. Determine how to organize the tool's output into messages, headers, and categories.
  2. Adapt the tool to write its output in the XML format that the viewer can read.
  3. Write a short script (or adapt one of the existing ones) to start the back-end tool (or locate its output) and feed the data to the Tool Gear viewer.

More details on the XML format are available with the Tool Gear distribution.

Download Tool Gear Software

The individual tool distributions (MpiPView and MemcheckView) are available on the Download Tool Gear Software page.

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Last modified December 6, 2012