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Timeasure

What Is It?

Timeasure is a transparent method-level wrapper for profiling purposes. See a live example right here!

Timeasure is a Ruby gem that allows measuring the runtime of methods in production environments without having to alter the code of the methods themselves.

Timeasure allows you to declare tracked methods to be measured transparently upon each call. Measured calls are then reported to Timeasure's Profiler, which aggregates the measurements on the method level. This part is configurable and if you wish you can report measurements to another profiler of your choice.

Why Use It?

Timeasure was created in order to serve as an easy-to-use, self-contained framework for method-level profiling that is safe to use in production. Testing runtime in non-production environments is helpful, but there is great value to the knowledge gained by measuring what really goes on at real time.

What To Do With the Data?

The imagined usage of measured methods timing is to aggregate it along a certain transaction and report it to a live BI service such as NewRelic Insights or Keen.io; however, different usages might prove helpful as well, such as writing the data to a database or a file.

General Notes

Timeasure uses minimal intervention in the Ruby Object Model for tracked modules and classes. It integrates well within Rails and non-Rails apps.

Timeasure is inspired by Metaprogramming Ruby 2 by Paolo Perrotta and by this blog post by Hashrocket.

Timeasure is developed and maintained by Eliav Lavi & Riskified.

Requirements

Ruby 2.1 or a later version is mandatory. (Timeasure uses Module#prepend introduced in Ruby 2.0 and Process::CLOCK_MONOTONIC introduced in Ruby 2.1.)

Installation

Add this line to your application's Gemfile:

gem 'timeasure'

And then execute:

$ bundle

Or install it yourself as:

$ gem install timeasure

Usage

1. Include Timeasure in Modules and Classes

Simply include the Timeasure module in any class or module and declare the desired methods to track:

class Foo
  include Timeasure
  tracked_class_methods :bar
  tracked_instance_methods :baz, :qux
  
  def self.bar
    # some class-level stuff that can benefit from measuring runtime...
  end
    
  def baz
    # some instance-level stuff that can benefit from measuring runtime...
  end
  
  def qux
    # some other instance-level stuff that can benefit from measuring runtime...
  end
end

An Important Note Regarding Private Methods

If you need to track any private methods - either class methods or instance methods - use the designated class macros for that:

class Foo
  include Timeasure
  tracked_class_methods :a_class_method_that_calls_private_methods
  tracked_private_class_methods :a_scoped_private_class_method, :an_inline_private_class_method
  
  class << self
    def a_class_method_that_calls_private_methods
      a_scoped_private_class_method
      an_inline_private_class_method
    end
    
    def a_scoped_private_class_method
      # some private class-level stuff that can benefit from measuring runtime...
    end
  end
  
  def self.an_inline_private_class_method
    # some other private class-level stuff that can benefit from measuring runtime...
  end
end

And the instance-level equivalent:

class Foo
  include Timeasure
  tracked_instance_methods :a_instance_method_that_calls_private_methods
  tracked_private_instance_methods :a_scoped_private_instance_method, :an_inline_private_instance_method
  
  class << self
    def a_instance_method_that_calls_private_methods
      a_scoped_private_instance_method
      an_inline_private_instance_method
    end
    
    def a_scoped_private_instance_method
      # some private instance-level stuff that can benefit from measuring runtime...
    end
  end
  
  def self.an_inline_private_instance_method
    # some other private instance-level stuff that can benefit from measuring runtime...
  end
end

ATTENTION!

Declaring the tracking of private methods with tracked_class_methods or tracked_instance_methods will end up in NoMethodError upon calling their triggering method!

Also, tracking your public methods with tracked_private_class_methods or tracked_private_instance_methods will make your class' interface inaccessible. The reason for these two is that since Timeasure is declared at the top of the class, it cannot know in advance which methods will be declared as private, so you need to specify this explicitly.

As a side note, it could be claimed that as a rule of thumb, if you find yourself measuring private methods, this might be a good idea to invest in refactoring this area of code and Extract Class. However, this is not always possible, of course, especially when working on legacy code. Hence, this feature of Timeasure should be considered as somewhat of a last resort and be handled with care.

2. Define the Boundaries of the Tracked Transaction

Preparing for Method Tracking

The user is responsible for managing the final reporting and the clean-up of the aggregated data after each transation. It is recommended to prepare the profiler at the beginning of a transaction in which tracked methods exist with

Timeasure::Profiling::Manager.prepare

and to re-prepare it again at the end of it in order to ensure a "clean slate" - after you have handled the aggregated data in some way.

Getting Hold of the Data

In order to get hold of the reported methods data, use

Timeasure::Profiling::Manager.export

This will return an array of ReportedMethods. Each ReportedMethod object holds the aggregated timing data per each tracked method call. This means that no matter how many times you call a tracked method, Timeasure's Profiler will still hold a single ReportedMethod object to represent it.

ReportedMethod allows reading the following attributes:

  • klass_name: Name of the class in which the tracked method resides.
  • method_name: Name of the tracked method.
  • segment: See Segmented Method Tracking below.
  • metadata: See Carrying Metadata below.
  • method_path: klass_name and method_name concatenated.
  • full_path: Same as method_path unless segmentation is declared, in which case the segment will be concatenated to the string as well. See Segmented Method Tracking below.
  • runtime_sum: The aggregated time it took the reported method in question to run across all calls.
  • call_count: The times the reported method in question was called across all calls.

Advanced Usage

Segmented Method Tracking

Timeasure was designed to separate regular code from its time measurement declaration. This is achieved by Timeasure's class macros tracked_class_methods and tracked_instance_methods. Sometimes, however, the need for additional data might arise. Imagine this method:

class Foo
  def bar(baz)
    # some stuff that can benefit from measuring runtime
    # yet its runtime is also highly affected by the value of baz...
  end
end

We've seen how Timeasure makes it easy to measure the bar method. However, if we wish to segment each call by the value of baz, we may use Timeasure's direct interface and send this value as a segment:

class Foo
  def bar(baz)
    Timeasure.measure(klass_name: 'Foo', method_name: 'bar', segment: { baz: baz }) do
      # the code to be measured
    end
  end
end

For such calls, Timeasure's Profiler will aggregate the data in ReportedMethod objects grouped by class, method and segment.

This approach obviously violates Timeasure's idea of separating code and measurement-declaration, but it allows for much more detailed investigations, if needed. This will result in different ReportedMethod object in Timeasure's Profiler for each combination of class, method and segment. Accordingly, such ReportedMethod object will include these three elements, concatenated, as the value for ReportedMethod#full_path.

Carrying Metadata

This feature was developed in order to complement the segmented method tracking.

Sometimes carrying data with measurement that does not define a segment might be needed. For example, assuming we save all our ReportedMethods to some table called reported_methods, we might want to supply a custom table name for specific measurements. This might be achieved by using metadata:

class Foo
  def bar
    Timeasure.measure(klass_name: 'Foo', method_name: 'bar', metadata: { table_name: 'my_custom_table' }) do
      # the code to be measured
    end
  end
end

Unlike Segments, Timeasure only carries the Metadata onwards. It is up to the user to make use of this data, probably after calling Timeasure::Profiling::Manager.export.

Notes

Compatibility with RSpec

If you run your test suite with Timeasure installed and modules, classes and methods tracked and all works fine - hurray! However, due to the mechanics of Timeasure - namely, its usage of prepended modules - there exist a problem with stubbing Timeasure-tracked method (RSpec does not support stubbing methods that appear in a prepended module). To be accurate, that means that if you are tracking method #foo, you can not declare something like allow(bar).to receive(:foo).and_return(bar). Your specs will refuse to run in this case. To solve that problem you can configure Timeasure's enable_timeasure_proc not to run under certain conditions.

If you are on Rails, add the following as a Rails initializer:

require 'timeasure'

Timeasure.configure do |configuration|
  configuration.enable_timeasure_proc = lambda { !Rails.env.test? }
end

Timeasure will not come into action if the expression in the block evaluates to false. By default this block evaluates to true.

In case you are loading files manually (probably not on Rails), you can add this to spec_helper.rb:

RSpec.configure do |config|
  config.before(:suite) do
    Timeasure.configure do |configuration|
      configuration.enable_timeasure_proc = lambda { false }
    end
  end
end

Feature Requests

Timeasure is open for changes and requests! If you have an idea, a question or some need, feel free to contact me here or at [email protected].

Contributing

  1. Fork it ( https://github.com/riskified/timeasure/fork )
  2. Create your feature branch (git checkout -b my-new-feature)
  3. Commit your changes (git commit -am 'Add some feature')
  4. Push to the branch (git push origin my-new-feature)
  5. Create a new Pull Request

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