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Method for software execution visualization Disclosure Number: IPCOM000018659D
Publication Date: 2003-Jul-30
Document File: 4 page(s) / 101K

Publishing Venue

The Prior Art Database


Disclosed is a method for software execution visualization. Benefits include an improved development environment.

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Method for software execution visualization

Disclosed is a method for software execution visualization. Benefits include an improved development environment.


              Conventionally, programmers can set a breakpoint and capture a snapshot of the variable state when the breakpoint is reached. Alternatively, programmers add statements to their code to enter the value of selected variables or states into a trace file, resulting in large, hard to read text files where each line represents a trace statement. Finding a particular set of conditions in a text trace file is difficult.

General description

              The disclosed method simply applies a well-known hardware debug technique, logic analyzer trace display, to software. The disclosed method describes various methods of displaying software trace information in the graphical trace interface (GTI).


              The disclosed method provides advantages, including:

•             Improved development environment due to the improved availability of information about computer program execution 

Detailed description

              The disclosed method is the display of software variables as a linear trace. The GTI requires that an application collect trace information. The application can be run, the trace captured, and the trace reviewed later for specific patterns or used as reference for debugging. Alternatively, a real-time trace can be displayed as the application executes.

A variety of hierarchies can be applied to the display of the software source tree. In one version, an application displays a list of computer program files. Clicking on a program file displays a list of the global variables and subroutines in that file. Clicking on a subroutine name results in the display of a list of the local variables in that file.

              One implementation of the GTI displays a tree view of the traced objects on the left and graphical line trace on the right. Boolean values appear as a simple waveform, high when true, low when false. Variables are represented the same way that a bus is represented by a logic analyzer. Two horizontal bars are displayed with the current value between them. If a variable changes, an X is displayed followed by the new value.

Program files are represented with an orange “pages” icon. Opening a file displays all the global variables and subroutines in the file. Activating Globals displays all the defined global variables. Opening a subroutine displays all the local variables, arrays, and structures. As each item is expanded, the associated trace is displayed on the right side of the screen.

              The Globals item displays information about a transition when any global variable is changed, including the prior values. Subroutines are treated as Booleans. When the routine is active, the trace is high....