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About the SmartEiffel Debugger

The SmartEiffel debugger is an embedded debugger. It means that to use it, you must compile your application with the special command option -sedb. The generated executable is then equipped with the debugger, you just have to start it as you would without it.

The debugger offers many powerful commands, that let you look into the guts of your program:

Execution commands
Those commands are meant to make your program advance; either walk step by step, or by greater strides, or run until its end. Whatever command you choose, the program will run at most to the next breakpoint (
see below) or till you press ^C. The available commands are:
s Make a single step; if it involves entering into another routine (it's a feature call), then so be it.
n Make a single step, without entering into any other routine (it means that a feature call is seen as a single step).
f Stride to the end of the current routine.
c Run till the next breakpoint, or till the end.
Note that the breakpoints in the code (marked by the pseudo-instruction sedb_breakpoint) are heeded; they work as manually-added breakpoints. Here are the commands to manage manually-added breakpoints:
b Add a breakpoint. There are many possibilities, among which you can choose a subset to define. All the criteria you choose must be met for the breakpoint to be activated.

The possible criteria are described below.

B Display all the manually-added breakpoints.
<num> Removes the breakpoint designed by its number (you can see that number by the 'B' command).

When setting a breakpoint, the possible criteria are:

  • Name indication: The name information of the debugging stack contains information about the name of the routine called as well as the base class where this routine is defined. The name indication of the breakpoint can be any substring to be searched within the name information of the stack. For example, if the name indication is "item", the execution would stop in feature item of STRING but also in feature item of ARRAY, in feature item of DICTIONARY, etc. If the name indication is "item STRING", execution would stop only in routine item defined in class STRING. Also note that the name indication can be any substring. For example, if the name indication is "is_", the execution would stop in is_empty, is_integer, is_real, etc. As another example, if the name indication is "STRI", the execution would stop at any place in classes STRING, ARRAY[STRING], DICTIONARY[STRING,FOO], etc. Finally, also note that the "invariant" string is used when the execution is in the class invariant of some class, hence allowing you to spot all class invariant execution.
  • File indication: If you want to stop each time the execution reaches the string.e file class, it can be achieved easily by setting the file indication to "string.e". Because the file name indication is applied on the whole path of the file, the file indication allows you to filter more than a simple file name. For example, if the file indication is "lib/kernel", the execution would stop each time execution reaches some code in the kernel cluster of the SmartEiffel library.
  • Line range: The line range information allows you to select the line range to be considered. For example, to stop each time execution reaches line 12 or 13 in some file, just enter [12,13] as a line range.
  • Stack limit: The stack limit condition allows you to watch the stack size during execution. (This is useful to debug bad recursive calls.) For example, a stack limit of 10 would stop the execution as soon as the stack size reaches this 10 limit. The automatic incrementation option causes the stack-limit to be incremented each time the corresponding breakpoint matches. A breakpoint composed only of a single stack limit condition is a perfect watch dog of stack memory consumption.
Here is how sedb_breakpoint works:

The feature sedb_breakpoint defined in class GENERAL can be used to set a breakpoint directly in your Eiffel source file. Keep in mind that you must recompile your system each time some Eiffel source file is modified. Thus each time you add a sedb_breakpoint call to some Eiffel source file you must recompile your code first. Also note that a sedb_breakpoint is always enabled even when the corresponding source file is not traced (see ACE file mode).

Data display

The following commands allow you to look at the data of your program:

<exp> Evaluates and displays the result of an expression. Note that currently only object attributes can be displayed (general Eiffel expression are not supported).

What you can do is:

  • display either Current or any local variable or parameter of the current routine;
  • display any attribute of the above objects, using the standard Eiffel dotted expression (e.g. e my_string.count);
  • display any element of a NATIVE_ARRAY, using a special notation: a dot followed by the offset of the object you want to display (e.g. e my_string.storage.4);
  • recursively string dotted expressions (like in the above example, or even more complex expressions).
Note: the 'e' command is available since SmartEiffel 1.1 beta 3.
<exp> Reevaluates the same expression, possibly appending the given expression to it (useful to chain dot calls).

You may also use the special expression ".." that goes back one dot ;-)

Example of use of 'e' and 'p':

sedb> e Current
        [ filter = Void
          buffer_position = 0
          buffer = NATIVE_ARRAY[CHARACTER]#0x806c030
          capacity = 4096
sedb> e buffer
sedb> p.0
(sedb) e buffer.0
sedb> p..1
(sedb) e buffer.1
sedb> p....buffer_position
(sedb) e buffer_position
. Display the current frame.
u Up in the stack (go to the caller). Note that the 'e' expressions follow the "current frame" (you can display Current and so on of that frame).
d Down in the stack (go back to the callee). Note that the 'e' expressions follow the "current frame" (you can display Current and so on of that frame).
S Display the whole stack (compact mode or not).
Other commands
q Quits the debugger (the program will be stopped). You can use 'Q' to bypass the confirmation.
h Display some help. You can follow that 'h' by a second letter to have help on the following topics:
  • a: all topics
  • e: "executing" topic
  • b: "breakpoints" topic
  • d: "data-display" topic
  • m: "miscellaneous" topic
Note: you can use '?' instead of 'h'.
H Display some more help. Answer "yes" at each question if you want details.
G Run the Garbage Collector.
T Switch to the trace.se file mode.
Enter Repeat the last command.

Copyright © Dominique COLNET and Suzanne COLLIN - <SmartEiffel@loria.fr>
Last modified: Thu May 1 17:58:51 CEST 2003