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Question of the month: Choosing a profiler, February 28th, 2003

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Which profiler should I use?

The most expensive you can buy. If everyone in the I.T. industry were to spend a little more money on I.T. products, the I.T. industry would be booming just like in early 2000 and I could retire sooner. Apart from that, the more expensive the profiler, the more features it is likely to have.

On the other hand, the more accurate answer is probably that you should use the profiler that is within your budget and that will be the most productive for your project. Here is a procedure for you to decide on which profile to choose:

  1. Decide on your budget for a profiler (it can be $0.00, this procedure still works).
  2. Go to and use that page to get your list of all available profilers. Bear in mind that most commercial IDEs also come with a profiler, so if you are choosing an IDE, factor that in, and if you already have an IDE add your IDE's profiler to the list.
  3. Check also the various Java magazines for their "choices of the year" profiler. Several have reader's choices each year (JDJ and JavaPro at least), and also editor's choice too. These lists can be useful to make sure you haven't missed any profilers, and also may give you an idea of which profilers are possibly better. However do note that reader's choices are elected by online voting and these choices can be manipulated if enough effort is made, so don't rely on these results to select a profiler.
  4. Cross off all profilers that are outside your budget. (If your budget is $0.00, you will be left only with the free profilers and any you already have access to, such as your IDE profiler).
  5. Select a runnable application, component or partially completed project code that you can run which is likely to have performance problems, to use as a test application.
  6. Evaluate each profiler, using each profiler on your test application to determine and fix the bottlenecks. All commercial profilers should have a trial period available for evaluation. Note the first two profilers you used, and repeat their evaluation a the end of the series. The first two profilers will seem more difficult to use initially, because you are getting used to using profilers, getting used to the bottlenecks in the test application, and working out the fixes to apply. By repeating their evaluation, you counteract this bias.
  7. You now have more experience at understanding the benefits, drawbacks, ease of use and productivity of various profiler features than most of the profiler creators. At this point you have probably already chosen your profiler. If not, then none of them stood out for you. In which case eliminate those that you definitely did not want, and select the cheapest one remaining.
  8. Repeat this procedure when you need to upgrade your profiler. Bear in mind that competitors may be willing to give you their upgrade price if you trade your old profiler in for their one.
  9. Congratulations. You are now the proud owner of a Java profiler. Use it carefully and keep it in good working order, and it will last you many years. Keep going to to find the latest performance tips, and you and your profiler will have a long and successful lifetime.

The team

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Last Updated: 2022-11-29
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