Monday, August 9, 2010

Mister Trace

For the past several weeks, my team at Method R have been working hard on a new software tool that we released today. It is an extension for Oracle SQL Developer called Method R Trace. We call it MR Trace for short.

MR Trace is for SQL and PL/SQL developers who care about performance. Every time you execute code from a SQL Developer worksheet, MR Trace automatically copies a carefully scoped trace file to your SQL Developer workstation. There, you can open it with any application you want, just by clicking. You can tag it for easy lookup later. There’s a 3-minute video if you’re interested in seeing what it looks like.

I’m particularly excited about MR Trace because it’s the smallest software tool we’ve ever designed. That may sound funny to a lot of people, but it won’t sound funny to you if you’ve read Rework by Jason Fried and David Heinemeier Hansson of 37signals. MR Trace does a seemingly very small thing—it gets your trace file for you—but if you’ve ever done that job yourself, you might get a kick out of seeing it happen so automatically, so simply, and so quickly.

The thing is, the normal process of getting trace files is raw misery for many of our friends. It’s a common story: “If I trace some SQL, then to get my trace files, I have to call up my SA or DBA. I apologize for the interruption and hope he’s in a good mood. I tell him what system I need him to look at. He has to figure out which trace files are the ones I need, and then he FTPs them over to where I can get to them. I try not to bother him, but there’s no other way.”

Most places don’t have any security reasons to prohibit developers from getting their trace files, but they just don’t have the time or the interest to create procedures that developers can use to fetch only the files they’re supposed to see. The resulting bother is so labor-intensive and so demotivating that developers stop fighting and just move on without trace files to guide them.

That’s a big problem: if you can’t see how the code you write consumes response time, then how can you optimize it? How can you even know if you should try to? If you have to guess where your code spends time, then you can’t possibly think clearly about performance.

We have tried to design MR Trace to be a beautiful little application that does exactly what you need by staying out of your way. If we did it right, then you won’t be thinking about MR Trace whenever you use it; you’ll just have the trace files you need, right where and when you need them. And you’ll have them with no extra typing, no extra clicks, and—for goodness’ sake—certainly no more phone calls or trips down the hall. ...Unless it’s to to show off a performance problem you found and fixed before anyone else ever noticed it.

Key information:

Method R Trace
Extension for Oracle SQL Developer
Zero-click trace file collector
$49.95 USD
30-day free trial
Method R Corporation