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page.title=Analyzing Display and Performance
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<h2>In this document</h2>
<li><a href="#overview">Overview</a>
<li><a href="#generate">Generating Traces</a>
<li><a href="#limit-trace">Limiting trace data</a></li>
<li><a href="#running-4.3">Tracing on Android 4.3 and higher</a>
<li><a href="#running-4.2">Tracing on Android 4.2 and lower</a></li>
<li><a href="#app-trace">Tracing Application Code</a></li>
<li><a href="#analysis">Analyzing Traces</a>
<li><a href="#long-processes">Long running processes</a></li>
<li><a href="#display-interupts">Interruptions in display execution</a></li>
<h2>See also</h2>
<li><a href="{@docRoot}tools/help/systrace.html">Systrace</a></li>
<p>After building features, eliminating bugs, and cleaning up your code, you should spend some
time looking at the performance of your application. The speed and smoothness with which your
application draws pixels and performs operations has an significant impact on your users'
<p>Android applications operate within a shared resource environment, and the performance of
your application can be impacted by how efficiently it interacts with those resources in
the larger system. Applications also operate in a multithreaded environment, competing with other
threaded processes for resources, which can cause performance problems that are hard to diagnose.
<p>The Systrace tool allows you to collect and review code execution data for your
application and the Android system. You can use this data to diagnose execution problems and
improve the performance of your application.</p>
<h2 id="overview">Overview</h2>
<p>Systrace helps you analyze how the execution of your application fits into the larger
Android environment, letting you see system and applications process execution on a common
timeline. The tool allows you to generate highly detailed, interactive reports from devices
running Android 4.1 and higher, such as the report in figure 1.</p>
<img src="{@docRoot}images/systrace/report.png" alt="Systrace example report" id="figure1" />
<p class="img-caption">
<strong>Figure 1.</strong> An example Systrace report on 5 seconds of process execution
for a running application and related Android system processes.
<h2 id="generate">Generating Traces</h2>
<p>In order to create a trace of your application, you must perform a few setup steps. First, you
must have a device running Android 4.1 or higher. Set up the device for
<a href="{@docRoot}tools/device.html#setting-up">debugging</a>, connect it to your development
system, and install your application. Some types of trace information, specifically disk activity
and kernel work queues, require that you have root access to the device. However, most Systrace
log data only requires that the device be enabled for developer debugging.</p>
<p>Systrace traces can be run either from a
<a href="{@docRoot}tools/help/systrace.html#options">command line</a> or from a
<a href="{@docRoot}tools/help/systrace.html#gui">graphical user interface</a>. This guide
focuses on using the command line options.</p>
<h3 id="limit-trace">Limiting trace data</h3>
<p>The Systrace tool can generate a potentially huge amount of data from applications
and system sources. To limit the amount of data the tool collects and make the data more relevant
to your analysis, use the following options:</p>
<li>Limit the amount of time covered by the trace with the {@code -t, --time} option. The default
length of a trace is 5 seconds.</li>
<li>Limit the size of the data collected by the trace with the {@code -b, --buf-size} option.</li>
<li>Specify what types of processes are traced. The types of processes that can be traced depends
on the version of Android you are running:
<li>Android 4.2 and lower devices: Use the {@code --set-tags} option and the {@code --disk},
{@code --cpu-freq}, {@code --cpu-idle}, {@code --cpu-load} options.</li>
<li>Android 4.3 and higher devices: Use the {@code --list-categories} option to see what
categories are available on your test device.</li>
<h3 id="running-4.3">Tracing on Android 4.3 and higher</h3>
<p>To run a trace on Android 4.3 and higher devices:</p>
<li>Make sure the device is connected through a USB cable and is
<a href="{@docRoot}tools/device.html#setting-up">enabled for debugging</a>.</li>
<li>Run the trace with the options you want, for example:
$ cd android-sdk/platform-tools/systrace
$ python --time=10 -o mynewtrace.html sched gfx view wm
<li>On the device, execute any user actions you want be included in the trace.</li>
<p>For more information on the available options for running Systrace, see the
<a href="{@docRoot}tools/help/systrace.html#options-4.3">Systrace</a> help page.</p>
<h3 id="running-4.2">Tracing on Android 4.2 and lower</h3>
<p>To use Systrace effectively with devices running Android 4.2 and lower,
you must configure the types of processes you want to trace before running a trace.
The tool can gather the following types of process information:</p>
<li>General system processes such as graphics, audio and input processes (selected using trace
<a href="{@docRoot}tools/help/systrace.html#tags">category tags</a>).</li>
<li>Low level system information such as CPU, kernel and disk activity (selected using
<a href="{@docRoot}tools/help/systrace.html#options">options</a>).</li>
<p>To set trace tags for Systrace using the command-line:</p>
<li>Use the {@code --set-tags} option:
$ cd android-sdk/platform-tools/systrace
$ python --set-tags=gfx,view,wm
<li>Stop and restart the {@code adb} shell to enable tracing of these processes.
$ adb shell stop
$ adb shell start
<p>To set trace tags for Systrace using the device user interface:</p>
<li>On the device connected for tracing, navigate to: <strong>Settings &gt;
Developer options &gt; Monitoring &gt; Enable traces</strong>.</li>
<li>Select the categories of processes to be traced and click <strong>OK</strong>.</li>
<p class="note">
<strong>Note:</strong> The {@code adb} shell does not have to be stopped and restarted when
selecting trace tags using this method.
<p>After you have configured the category tags for your trace, you can start collecting
information for analysis.</p>
<p>To run a trace using the current trace tag settings:</p>
<li>Make sure the device is connected through a USB cable and is
<a href="{@docRoot}tools/device.html#setting-up">enabled for debugging</a>.</li>
<li>Run the trace with the low-level system trace options and limits you want, for example:
$ python --cpu-freq --cpu-load --time=10 -o mytracefile.html
<li>On the device, execute any user actions you want be included in the trace.</li>
<p>For more information on the available options for running Systrace, see the
<a href="{@docRoot}tools/help/systrace.html#options-pre-4.3">Systrace</a> help page.</p>
<h2 id="app-trace">Tracing Application Code</h2>
<p>The Systrace tool can trace the execution of code within your application. In Android
4.3 (API level 18) and higher, you can use the methods of the {@link android.os.Trace} class to
add instrumentation to your application code and see the results in a Systrace report.</p>
<p>The following code example shows how to use the {@link android.os.Trace} class to track
execution of an application method, including two nested code blocks within that method.</p>
public void ProcessPeople() {
try {
Trace.beginSection("Processing Jane");
try {
// code for Jane task...
} finally {
Trace.endSection(); // ends "Processing Jane"
Trace.beginSection("Processing John");
try {
// code for John task...
} finally {
Trace.endSection(); // ends "Processing John"
} finally {
Trace.endSection(); // ends "ProcessPeople"
<p class="note">
<strong>Note:</strong> When you nest trace calls within each other, the
{@link android.os.Trace#endSection} method ends the most recently called
{@link android.os.Trace#beginSection} method. This means that a trace started within another
trace cannot extend beyond the end of the enclosing trace, so make sure your beginning and
ending method calls are properly matched to measure your applications processing.
<p class="note">
<strong>Note:</strong> Traces must begin and end on the same thread. Do not call
{@link android.os.Trace#beginSection} on one thread of execution and then attempt to end the
trace with a call to {@link android.os.Trace#endSection} on another thread.
<p>When using application-level tracing with Systrace, you must specify the package name of your
application in the user interface or specify the {@code -a} or {@code --app=} options on the
command line. For more information, see the
<a href="{@docRoot}tools/help/systrace.html">Systrace</a> help page.</p>
<!-- todo: add ndk coverage -->
<h2 id="analysis">Analyzing Traces</h2>
<p>After you have generated a trace using Systrace, it lists the location of the output
file and you can open the report using a web browser.
How you use the trace data depends on the performance issues you are investigating. However,
this section provides some general instructions on how to analyze a trace.</p>
<p>The reports generated by Systrace are interactive, allowing you to zoom into and out of
the process execution details. Use the <em>W</em> key to zoom in, the <em>S</em>
key to zoom out, the <em>A</em> key to pan left and the <em>D</em> key to pan
right. Select a task in timeline using your mouse to get more information about the task.
For more information about the using the keyboard navigation shortcuts and navigation, see the
<a href="{@docRoot}tools/help/systrace.html#viewing-options">Systrace</a> reference
<h3 id="long-processes">Long running processes</h3>
<p>A well-behaved application executes many small operations quickly and with a regular rhythm,
with individual operations completing within few milliseconds, depending on the device
and the processes being performed, as shown in figure 2:</p>
<img src="{@docRoot}images/systrace/process-rhythm.png" alt="Systrace exerpt of app processing"
id="figure2" />
<p class="img-caption">
<strong>Figure 2.</strong> Excerpt from a trace of a smoothly running application with a regular
execution rhythm.
<p>The trace excerpt in figure 2 shows a well-behaved application with
a regular process rhythm (1). The lower section of figure 2 shows a magnified section of
the trace indicated by the dotted outline, which reveals some irregularity in the process
execution. In particular, one of the wider task bars, indicated by (2), is taking slightly
longer (14 milliseconds) than other, similar tasks on this thread, which are averaging between
9 and 12 milliseconds to complete. This particular task execution length is likely not noticeable
to a user, unless it impacts another process with specific timing, such as a screen update.</p>
<p>Long running processes show up as thicker than usual execution bars in a trace. These thicker
bars can indicate a problem in your application performance. When they show up in your
trace, zoom in on the process using the
<a href="{@docRoot}tools/help/systrace.html#viewing-options">keyboard navigation</a> shortcuts to
identify the task causing the problem, and click on the task to get more information. You should
also look at other processes running at the same time, looking for a thread in one process that is
being blocked by another process.</p>
<h3 id="display-interupts">Interruptions in display execution</h3>
<p>The Systrace tool is particularly useful in analyzing application display slowness,
or pauses in animations, because it shows you the execution of your application across multiple
system processes. With display execution, drawing screen frames with a regular rhythm is essential
for good performance. Having a regular rhythm for display ensures that animations and motion are
smooth on screen. If an application drops out of this rhythm, the display can become jerky or slow
from the users perspective.</p>
<p>If you are analyzing an application for this type of problem, examine the
<strong>SurfaceFlinger</strong> process in the Systrace report where your application is
also executing to look for places where it drops out of its regular rhythm.</p>
<img src="{@docRoot}images/systrace/display-rhythm.png" alt="Systrace exerpt of display processing"
id="figure3" />
<p class="img-caption">
<strong>Figure 3.</strong> Excerpt from a trace of an application showing interruptions in
display processing.
<p>The trace excerpt in figure 3 shows an section of a trace that indicates an interruption in the
device display. The section of the <strong>SurfaceFlinger</strong> process in top excerpt,
indicated by (1), shows that display frames are being missed. These
dropped frames are potentially causing the display to stutter or halt. Zooming into this problem
area in the lower trace, shows that a memory operation (image buffer dequeuing and allocation) in
the <strong>surfaceflinger</strong> secondary thread is taking a long time (2). This delay
causes the application to miss the display update window, indicated by the dotted
line. As the developer of this application, you should investigate other threads in your
application that may also be trying to allocate memory at the same time or otherwise blocking
memory allocation with another request or task.</p>
<p>Regular, rhythmic execution of the <strong>SurfaceFlinger</strong> process is essential to smooth
display of screen content, particularly for animations and motion. Interruptions in the regular
execution pattern of this thread is not always an indication of a display problem with your
application. Further testing is required to determine if this is actually a performance problem
from a user perspective. Being able to identify display execution patterns like the example above
can help you detect display problems and build a smooth-running, high-performance application.
<p class="note">
<strong>Note:</strong> When using Systrace to analyze display problems, make sure
you activate the tracing tags for <strong>Graphics</strong> and <strong>Views</strong>.
<p>For more information on the command line options and keyboard controls for Systrace,
see the <a href="{@docRoot}tools/help/systrace.html">Systrace</a> help page.</p>