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MemoryAnalyzer/Reading Data from Heap Dumps


The Memory Analyzer offers an API which one can use to open a heap dump and inspect its contents programmatically. This API is used by the MAT tool itself to offer the different end-user features available in the tool. An overview of this API is available on this page.

The ISnapshot interface

The most important interface one can use to extract data from a heap dump is ISnapshot. ISnapshot represents a heap dump and offers various methods for reading object and classes from it, getting the size of objects, etc…

To obtain an instance of ISnapshot one can use static methods on the SnapshotFactory class. However, this is only needed if the API is used to implement a tool independent of Memory Analyzer. If you are writing extensions to MAT, the your coding will get an instance corresponding to an already opened heap dump either by injection or as a method parameter. See MemoryAnalyzer/Extending_Memory_Analyzer.

Opening a snapshot using SnapshotFactory

To open an existing heap dump in one of the supported formats call the SnapshotFactory.openSnapshot() method. See MemoryAnalyzer#Getting_a_Heap_Dump for more details on getting heap dumps from different VMs.

public static ISnapshot openSnapshot(File file, IProgressListener listener) throws SnapshotException

As parameters pass the heap dump file and a progress listener (see #The IProgressListener interface) When you are finished with using the ISnapshot instance call the SnapshotFactory.dispose(ISnapshot) method to free the resources and unlock any used files.

The IProgressListener interface

The IProgressListener listener interface offers (as the name suggests) functionality to report the progress of different computations. Usually if you are extending the tool then MAT will pass an instance of an object implementing the interface to you. In case you are opening the heap dump on your own, you may need to create the listener on your own. The tool provides some helper classes: To log progress to the console create a ConsoleProgressListener. To ignore the progress output create a VoidProgressListener. You can wrap a org.eclipse.core.runtime.IProgressMonitor using a org.eclipse.mat.ui.util.ProgressMonitorWrapper. If you have several subtasks then org.eclipse.mat.util.SimpleMonitor can be used to generate several IProgressListener objects each handling a certain proportion of the work from a supplied IProgressListener.

The object model

The following hierarchy of interfaces represents the object model that MAT builds for objects in the heap. IObject IClass IInstance IClassLoader IArray IObjectArray IPrimitiveArray

This model is pretty straightforward and easy to understand. However, there is one major challenge – the memory needed to maintain such a model. As often there are millions of objects in a heap dump, MAT is not keeping such a model through the livetime of an ISnapshot. Instead it gives every object an id (starting from 0 and growing by one) and uses these ids to obtain information about objects (like its class, size, referenced objects, etc…) from the ISnapshot instance. Also most of the heavy computations traversing potentially millions of objects (e.g. calculating a retained size, computing paths, etc…) are done without using the object model described above. The use of the classes described here is needed (and recommended) only when the full information about an object is needed – including its field names and their (possibly primitive) values.

Single objects, objects id and address

To get an object by its id use the method getObject(int id) of ISnapshot. Objects have also addresses (usually visualized as hexadecimal number next to the object). One can map between object ids and addresses using the following two methods of ISnapshot:

   public long mapIdToAddress(int objectId) throws SnapshotException;
   public int mapAddressToId(long objectAddress) throws SnapshotException;

If you already have an instance of IObject you can call getObjectId() and getObjectAddress()

Getting classes

The ISnapshot interface offers the possibility to get a class by its fully qualified name or get a collection of classes using a regex pattern.

   public Collection<IClass> getClassesByName(String name, boolean includeSubClasses) throws SnapshotException;
   public Collection<IClass> getClassesByName(Pattern namePattern, boolean includeSubClasses) throws SnapshotException;

Both methods return a collection of classes, as classes with the same name but loaded with different class loaders are treated as separate classes. To get a collection of all classes available in the heap dump, just call the getClasses() method without any parameters

Get all instances of a class

To get all instances of a certain class first obtain the class (or collection of classes) and then call the getObjectIds method on the IClass instance:

   public int[] getObjectIds() throws SnapshotException;

The returned int[] contains the ids of all objects of the class.

Inspecting referenced objects

There are various possibilities to explore the outgoing references of an object. The most preferment way is to use the getOutboundReferentIds(int) methods of ISnapshot.

   public int[] getOutboundReferentIds(int objectId) throws SnapshotException;

This method takes an object id and returns an array containing all the ids of all referenced objects. The reference objects include also object referenced by artificially modeled references (TODO link to this part). This method gives a fast way to traverse the object graph.

The IObject interface also provides several ways to explore its references:

   public List<NamedReference> getOutboundReferences();

A NamedReference allows you to look at the name of the reference, get the id and the address of the referenced object, and also get the referenced object as IObject.

If you are looking for the value of a specific field / reference, then the most convenient way to achieve it is to use the resolve value method.

   public Object resolveValue(String field) throws SnapshotException;

It takes as an argument a dot-separated path to the field of interest. This means that one can access not only the fields of the object itself, but to provide a path through some of the references. Here is an example:

IObject myObject = snapshot.getObject(objectId); IObject fName = myObject.resolveValue(“department.customer.firstName”);

This code will go through the fields of myObject and will search for a field named “department”. If department itself is not a primitive MAT will find its field “customer”, and then find the field “firstName” in the object referenced through “customer”.

If the field is of primitive type, then resolveValue() will return the corresponding wrapper class, e.g. you can do :

IObject hashMap = … ; // some IObject representing a HashMap int size = hashMap.resolveValue(“size”);

Printing objects

The IObject interface defines several methods for getting a String representation of the object.

getTechnicalName() – this method will return a string in the format <class name> @ <address>

getClassSpecificName() – this method is similar to the toString() method. It may return some meaningful description of the object. For example if you call it on an IObject representing a String, then it will return the value of the String. If you call it on an IObject representing a Thread, it will return the name of the Thread. This method however is not the toString() method of the real objects that were put in the heap dump. The heap dump only contains the objects and their values, but it is not possible to call methods of the corresponding classes. It is just that the Memory Analyzer extracts information from the fields of the objects and models the toString() behavior. It is possible to easily extend MAT by adding new ClassSpecificNameResolvers using a defined extension point (TODO see link).

getDisplayName() – this is a convenience method returning a combination of the technical name appended by the class specific name.

Object sizes

Shallow size

To get the shallow size of a single object, use the getHeapSize method of ISnapshot :

   public long getHeapSize(int objectId) throws SnapshotException;

If you have to compute the shallow size of a set of objects (e.g. the sum of the shallow sizes of each instance of a certain class), then we recommend to use the getHeapSize(int[] objectIds) method of ISnapshot and pass the ids of all objects of interest as an array. This method uses some internal structures and is executing the task in several threads (if more than one CPU is available), therefore it will have better performance than looping over the objects and calling getHeapSize() for each single object.

Retained Size

To get the retained size of a single object, use the getRetainedHeapSize() method of ISnapshot.

   public long getRetainedHeapSize(int objectId) throws SnapshotException;

To get the retained size of a set of objects, first compute the retained set using int[] getRetainedSet(int[], IProgressListener) and then call the getHeapSize(int[]) on the returned array with ids.

The getRetainedSet method has two other “advanced” variants. Consult the API reference inside the tool for more details.

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