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Month: September 2006

I have this friend who might be most accurately described as a web developer. When DTrace was able to observe php he was interested. Me: “I should give you a demo some time.” Him: “Absolutely…”

When DTrace ticked Ruby off its list, he was more enthusiastic. Him: “Cool! I loves me the Ruby!” Me: “Let me know when you want that demo”.

The other day I got an IM from my friend. Him: “DTrace for JavaScript, eh?” Me: “How ’bout that, huh?” Him: “So when can I get that demo?”

Last week Brendan Gregg released Helper Monkey — a DTrace-enabled version of Mozilla’s Spider Monkey JavaScript engine. Why was this the tipping point for my friend the web developer? Probably not because he’s more fond of JavaScript than php or Ruby; much more likely, it’s because JavaScript is an observability atrocity. Even if you don’t use any probes in DTrace other than the ones associated with JavaScript, Helper Monkey is a galactic improvement on the state of JavaScript development. Consider the next 40,000 – 200,000 DTrace probes gravy.

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Some people think DTrace was built for developers; others think it was for system administrators; some even think it was a tool designed just for Solaris kernel hackers but was so useful we decided to unleash it on the world. All wrong. The user we always had in mind was Solaris user extraordinaire Jarod Jenson. DTrace let’s you explore virtually any element of the system — it’s biggest limitation is the user’s own knowledge of the system. Jarod has the most diverse and expansive knowledge of enterprise computing bar none; in his hands DTrace seemingly has no limit.

Here’s how Jarod works. He gets on a plane and arrives at some gigantic (and usually petulant) corporation. Having never seen the application, he then says something like: I’ll get you a 20% win or don’t pay me. He sits down with DTrace and gets between 20% and 20,000% (no joke). And from those experiences, he’s provided input that’s improved DTrace immeasurably (in fact, Jarod hacked up the first version of Java support in DTrace “right quick”).

So how does he do it? I only have a very vague idea. Luckily, DTrace user number one is also the latest member of the blogsphere. Check out Jarod’s blog to get the latest DTrace war stories. I know I’ve been awaiting this one for a while, and it’s about damned time.

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