Electronic Design

Real-Time Monitor Tool Speeds Application Development

An agent-based monitoring tool known as SurroundView provides on-demand, real-time analysis of instrumented applications. Typically, designers would have to evaluate application information as a hex dump. But SurroundView makes it easy to evaluate the information graphically instead. Also, this software lets developers and tech-support analysts track the operation of one or more applications, including network-based functions.

SurroundView support starts when an application is compiled and linked. Programmers add a limited amount of code to indicate which application information will be made available to the software. The SurroundView support is only active when the application is connected to the monitoring application. Multiple monitored applications can run in multitasking and multiprocessor environments.

The monitoring application runs on Windows 95, 98, Me, NT, and 2000. Its graphical application offers a selection of applications to be monitored, as well as information available from those applications. Users can then select the information to be displayed and how it will be presented in a window.

This information can be presented in a variety of ways. Various preprocessing methods can be applied as well. Multiple information sources can be mixed in one display. Information from different coordinated applications, as in a client-server environment, can be displayed together. Most debuggers don't have this capability, making SurroundView an excellent complement to existing debugging tools.

Information can be displayed in a variety of tables, charts, and graphs. Layouts can be saved for reuse. Information can be logged for later viewing. Various tracking options can be used. Actions like e-mail notification, file operations, logging initiation, and application startup on the monitoring PC can be performed based on incoming data values. This level of control can be invaluable when debugging applications.

The agent support uses only 25 to 50 kbytes, depending upon the target operating system (OS). Target OSs include VxWorks, pSOS, OSE, Nucleus Plus, Linux, Unix, Windows 9x/
NT/2000, and ITRON. More are being added. Programming language support is limited to C or C++, but it's possible to add the agent support to applications based on other languages if a C/C++ module can be linked in.

The tool can be used on a local PC, connected to a system under test using a serial link. It also can monitor applications over a TCP/IP connection. This is especially useful for remote debugging at a customer site or for monitoring network-based applications, such as an Internet appliance connected to a Web server. SurroundView can interact with both devices, assuming the applications have been instrumented.

It also can be used to change variable values in applications, which is extremely useful in testing boundary conditions or initiating application-specific tests. While remote debugging remains one of the most difficult tasks for developers and tech-support technicians, SurroundView can make this job significantly easier. And, it's definitely better than developing an in-house logging system.

Contact the company for price and availability.

RTview Inc., 930 Massachusetts Ave., Cambridge, MA 02138; (617) 547-2560; fax (617) 547-2571; www.rtview.com.

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TAGS: Components
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