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ANTS Profiler
by Mike McIntyre | Published  07/25/2003 | Reviews Software Reviews | Rating:
Mike McIntyre

I am a system architect, developer, and project manager for aZ Software Developers, LLP.

I feel very lucky because my work at aZ Software Developers allows me the time to be an active mentor, trainer, and coach in the Microsoft .NET technical community.

DevCity is my favorite community site. Click to see my DevCity profile -> Mike McIntyre

 

 

View all articles by Mike McIntyre...
ANTS Profiler
Quick Facts
ANTS Profiler
Red Gate Software
Web: www.red-gate.com
Phone: 1.866.733.4283
Price: $295 Single User
Quick Facts: Powerful and extremely simple to use code profiling tool for most .NET applications that measures execution timings down to individual lines of code.

Quickly find code that is causing performance bottlenecks in Windows Forms applications, web sites, web services, and COM+ applications with ANTS Profiler from Red Gate Software.

Without any prior experience it took me less than 15 minutes to find an ADO.NET code bottleneck in a Windows Application using ANTS Profiler. In that time I installed ANTS Profiler, used ANTS Profiler to run the application to gather a profile, and drilled down into the slowest procedures to locate the problem code.

ANTS Profiler makes it very easy to collect detailed timings from your application. It summarizes timings so you can see the problem areas first. Quickly find the cause of problems by drilling down to individual lines.

The ANTS Profiler interfaces are the simplest and most intuitive I have seen in code testing/profiling software. The interface for setting up a test is quickly learned. The interface for inspecting the results presents very meaningful summaries which lead you quickly to problem areas. From a problem area it is a simple matter of drilling down to the code that is causing the bottleneck. When you drill down to a problem line you see the number of times the line is hit, the timing of the line, and the code itself colorized as it would be in the VS.NET code editor.

The steps I took to review ANTS Profiler version 1.2.1 were

  1. explore the resources on the Red Gate Software web site;
  2. download and install ANTS Profiler;
  3. complete the ANTS Profiler tutorial;
  4. test ANTS Profiler with a Windows Forms application;
  5. test ANTS Profiler with the Microsoft Commerce samle web site;
  6. test ANTS Profiler with the Duwamish7 catalog web service;
  7. test Red Gate Software support; and
  8. summarize my findings.

Explore the Red Gate Software Web Site

At the Red Gate Software web site it took me about 45 minutes to browse the wealth of information about ANTS Profiler and to drill down into enough detail to understand the product. Visit the link below to quickly learn the basics of how the product works.

Red Gate Software Code Profiling

Download and Install ANTS Profiler

I downloaded ANTS Profiler from the Red Gate Software site and installed it on my computer in less than 5 minutes.

The installation is simple - just run it and wait until it is finished. There are no special setup steps or configurations to be made. Visit the link below to download a trial copy.

ANTS Profiler Trial Download

Complete the ANTS Profiler Tutorial

Included in ANTS Profiler's Help is a six-step tutorial. The purpose of this tutorial is to acquaint you with the steps required to generate and understand timings of a sample Windows Forms application that is provided with ANTS Profiler.

The tutorial makes it easy to learn how to set up a test, link to the .Net application to be tested, run the test, and analyze the results.

It took me 10 minutes to complete the Tutorial.

Test ANTS Profiler with a Windows Application

To test ANTS Profiler on a Windows Application I profiled Microsoft's "VB.NET How-To Sample N-Tier Data Form App".

To set up the test I clicked the "Set up a new project for profiling a .Net application." link on the ANTS Profiler Start Page. This opened the Project Properties dialog window.

Click for a full-sized image
(click for a full-sized image)

In the Project Properties dialog window I clicked "I want to profile the following application." option button. Next I clicked the browse button which opened the "Application To Profile" browse dialog window. I navigated to the application executable in the Bin folder of my project, selected the executable, and clicked the Open button in the "Application To Profile" dialog. This returned me to the Project Properties dialog where I clicked the OK button. ANTS Profiler was ready to profile my application.

This quick set-up was very much like using the Windows File Open dialog window we all know how to use.

To start testing I clicked the GO button on the ANTS Profiler tool bar. This opened my application so I could put it through its paces. After five minutes of testing I exited the application in a normal fashion.

When I exited the application ANTS Profiler instantly built the profile results and presented them in a Results tab page as shown here:

Click for a full-sized image
(click for a full-sized image)

It would take many screen shots to show all the views and variations possible in the Results tab page. Instead of screen shots, here is Red Gate Software's description of what can be done - all of which turned out to be quite useful as I found by testing every variation.

"When you first view the results from a profiling session you can view three sections. These are top level functions, the slowest 100 functions, and source files. Clicking on an individual function name will show you more information about that function.

The summary timings will show you information about the hit count, procedure time, total time, maximum time and minimum time. You will also be able to see this information for sub functions and calling functions.

You can navigate the results by clicking on function names to drill down / drill up. You can also use the back, forward and home buttons on the toolbar."

The bottom line: Within six minutes I set up, tested, and profiled a Windows application. In another two minutes I drilled down into the 5 slowest functions and found the lines of code that were causing the 5 most significant bottlenecks.

Test ANTS Profiler With an ASP.NET Web Application

I chose the ASP.NET "Commerce" sample web application to test ANTS Profiler on a web application.

Setting up to test a web application is nearly the same as setting up to test a Windows Forms application, and just as simple. Within a minute I was clicking the Go button to start profiling the Commerce web site.

After testing the web site for a few minutes I closed my web browser. ANTS Profiler again built a profile in seconds and presented it in a Results tab page as shown below.

Click for a full-sized image
(click for a full-sized image)

The web site profile is like the Windows Application profile - easy to use and the easiest way to find code bottlenecks.

Test ANTS Profiler With a Web Service

To test ANTS Profiler on a web service I used the Visual Studio.Net "Duwamish7" Catalog web service.

Because I chose to use Internet Explorer to test the web service, set up was exactly like setting up to test a web site. Optionally, I could have designated an application that was a client of the web service to be started first, in which case I would have tested using the client instead of Internet Explorer.

After testing the web service using an Internet Explorer page I closed the page. As before ANTS Profiler quickly prepared the profile in the now familiar tab page.

Test Red Gate Software's Support

I could not come up with an issue or question that could not be resolved using ANTS Profiler help or the FAQ page at Red Gate Software's web site. In fact, I had only one issue during the whole test, one which required some clarification on how to set up to test a web service. This is a very easy, simple, and stable product.

Summary of the Findings

ANTS Profiler delivers on what Red Gate Software promises. It does pinpoint bottleneck code in .NET applications. To this I would add - It pinpoints bottleneck code in the one of the easiest to learn and most productive ways available.

At $295 for single user license and as low as $99 per user when a 10 user license pack is purchased, ANTS Profiler is an excellent profiling tool with an inexpensive price tag.

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