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JEE Record/Replay Debugging Tool; The First to be Hosted

03.17.2010
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Reproducing a bug is one of the most problematic, "needle in a haystack"-type issues that a software development organization can face.  In order to find that bug again so that it doesn't resurface at a critical time (they always do), you need to recreate the conditions in which the bug first appeared as accurately as you can.  That means setting up the same database, application load, and any other component that was present when you logged the bug.  Recently, some innovative tools have appeared that can record and playback every component of that environment and the application itself at the time of the issue.  VMware has tooling that can perform this kind of 'replay debugging', but today, the newly released 3.0 version of ReplayDIRECTOR can provide this kind of functionality as a hosted service.

It Works Like This...
Replay Solutions likens their tool to a "DVR for enterprise Java applications."  Once it is set up, it constantly records all aspects of the environment.  It doesn't record simple screen captures, but instead it virtualizes the original environment in which the defect occurred.  This removes the need to recreate the database, dataset, or any other systems in play when the problem occurred.  The ReplayDIRECTOR software brings information from Staging/Production, QA, Support, Outsourcing, and Development back to the domain where the bug can be fixed.  

     

When you run the replay, your application is actually executing code.  No source code changes are required to have a replayable application.  The secret behind Replay Solution's software is some lightweight bytecode instrumentation on the class files that capture the sources of input.

Cloud Hosting and Other Features
To store large amounts of recorded information, you would normally have to set up and manage your own infrastructure, but the new ReplayDIRECTOR 3.0 can be deployed in an organization as a cloud hosted service.  Replay Solutions says the software can be up and running in as little as 5 minutes.  The hosting also provides team collaboration features via the web.  Other new features in ReplayDIRECTOR 3.0 include:
 
  • Visual Recording:  This lets you capture what was on the end user's screen as the bug occurred.
  • Web Interface:  The upgraded web collaboration interface has been redesigned with one-click reproduction of any issue.  The existing tools and workflows are integrated into the interface.
  • Markers:  Markers can now be placed on the replay to highlight areas of interest or the point at which the bug occurred.  These markers can be created by developers, end users, or automatically by the program itself when an error is detected.  
  • Integration Improvements:  Integration with Eclipse has seen the biggest improvement in this release.  Also expanded is the support for WebLogic, Tomcat, JBoss, Linux, Windows, and other technologies.  



ReplayDIRECTOR 3.0 pricing starts at $110 per month per user.  Before this release, pricing was only available as an enterprise licensing model and was
typically between $50-100K per customer.  The software can be downloaded here.