Time travel debugging is a feature in some debugging tools that allows the developer to go back in time and view the state of an application at previous points during execution. This can be extremely useful when trying to understand when and where a bug was introduced.
When you use a time-travel debugger you can work faster: it lets you inspect the debug loop by allowing you to jump to a fragment of your code, view variable values at a specific state, edit-and-continue and step into, over and out of your code.
What Time-travel debugging does
- It records the state of the application, including values of variables, during execution. This allows “going back in time” to previous states.
- The developer can set a breakpoint in the current execution, then jump back to observe the previous state at that same point. This helps isolate when issues first occurred.
- Some implementations allow not just going back to previous breakpoints, but freely exploring previous states at any point in the execution.
- The records of previous states are usually ephemeral – they don’t persist after the debugging session ends.
Time travel debugging is super useful, but it works best for logical errors in algorithmic code. Errors that span multiple systems or input/output may be harder to replay 😎
…aaand this is where Dashcam comes in!
What time-travel debugging doesn’t do well… but Dashcam does
- Influence on the system: Especially when debugging 3D applications, time travel debugging can that take a toll on the system. Tim-travel debugging will hit your system’s performance. Recording application state can slow down execution speed significantly. If you’re debugging application that are computational heavy your device might struggle. Luckily Dashcam only uses 1% of your CPU at any one time, so you can record what you’re doing without the application being impacted
- Reproducing bugs: When bugs can’t be reproduced because you didn’t catch them on the first time. It happens often that bugs disappear when you go back in time because the exact conditions are altered. With Dashcam’s Replay mode, your screen is recorded at all times, and you can specify for how long the footage is kept on your machine, meaning you will never miss a bug!
- Limited debugging: Most time travel debuggers only allow you to go back to a certain point, not unlimited in time. This can restrict how far back you can debug. You can set up to 3 days to screen time-travel with Dashcam
- Multi-point debugging: Some more complex platforms have multiple “moving parts” (networks, databases, etc), it may be difficult to accurately debug them. It gets hard to debug the entirety of a platform at once. In Dashcam, there’s no limit to how many application’s logs you can pair with your screen clips.
- Full-stack: Time travel debugging is not universally supported across languages, frameworks, and hardware architectures. Support varies. On the other hand, Dashcam works everywhere.
In summary, time travel debugging with tools like Dashcam provides an invaluable view. By recording application continuously in the background at low CPU overhead, developers can “go back in time” and inspect any previous point during the execution.
This unlocks the ability to understand complex bugs! This can help where using traditional debugging techniques fail. With an appropriate configuration, Dashcam’s time travel debugging can accelerate identification and resolution of logical errors significantly. With innovations like Dashcam making time travel available to everyone, developers now have an great tool to build robust, reliable software faster.