Java Debugger Traces Bugs to Their Origin

VisiComp's RetroVue keeps track of every operation executed by the program being debugged.

Java development tool maker VisiComp Inc. on Monday announced a new version of its RetroVue debugger, which it calls a Total Recall debugger for Java.

Ron Hughes, CEO of the Felten, Calif., company, said unlike conventional debugging tools, RetroVue keeps track of every operation executed by the program being debugged and thus enables developers to "roll back the clock" to any previous instance in the programs execution and review the state of the program at that point in time.

Hughes said RetroVue 1.1 is based on VisiComps visualization software, which uses proprietary algorithms to show the mechanics of Java programs in graphical format that displays the state, execution and thread interactions of programs. This allows developers to trace bugs to their origin, the company said. Once the program is identified and chronicled, RetroVue allows the developer to rewind or fast-forward through the execution to search for particular conditions or variables and to observe the relationships between the source code and other parts of the program.

In a statement, James Gosling, a Sun Microsystems Inc. vice president and distinguished engineer and creator of Java, said: "The work the folks at VisiComp have done is truly spectacular. It has a strong opportunity to dramatically improve the software development process."

Also in a statement, Hughes said: "A recent survey found that 83.3% of respondents felt that a quality debugging capability is of critical importance in a Java tool, and only 19% were satisfied with their existing tools. Given that the Java development tool market will soon exceed $1 billion, its going to be more critical than ever for a growing Java development population to have the right resources, and RetroVue is our answer to this growing market need for advanced Java tools."

RetroVue does three primary things that ease the job of a programmer and make the debugging process simpler, the company said. The product provides the capability to instrument the software to capture detail, then to analyze the detail, and finally to present the detail and analysis interactively through an advanced user interface, Hughes said.