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golang simple, thread-safe invocation tracker

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GoRef - Simple (and fast) go-style invocation tracker

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GoRef is a small Go package which implements a simple key-based method invocation counter and timing profiler.

It can be used to:

  • track execution time of your functions/goroutines
  • find bottlenecks in your code
  • Check if your goroutines exit properly
  • Track calls to your HTTP endpoints (and their execution time) - see below

To access the internal profiling data, use GetSnapshot(). It'll ask the worker goroutine to create a deep copy of the GoRef's instance current state.

GoRef's code is thread safe. It uses a messaging channel read by a single worker goroutine which does the heavy lifting.
Calls to Ref() and Deref() are asynchronous (that asynchronousity doesn't affect time measurement though).

Getting started

Download the package, e.g.:

go get github.com/mreithub/goref

Add the following snippet to each function (or goroutine) you want to track (and replace 'foo' with your own key names).

ref := goref.Ref("foo"); defer ref.Deref()

The above snippet uses GoRef in singleton mode. But you can also create your own GoRef instances (and e.g. use different ones in different parts of your application):

g := goref.NewGoRef()

// and then instead of the above snippet:
ref := g.Ref("foo"); defer ref.Deref()

At any point in time you can call GetSnapshot() to obtain a deep copy of the measurements.

Scoped measurements

GoRef not only supports independent GoRef instances but also has a scope hierarchy (or tree structure if you will).

With goref.GetInstance(path ...string) you can get a specific child of the global singleton instance.

An example use case would be seperate, possibly nested instances for different parts of your application (e.g. goref.GetInstance("http") for HTTP endpoint handlers, goref.GetInstance("dao", "psql") for the PostgreSQL based DAO, ...)

You can see a simple example of GoRef scopes in action in the gorilla-mux example below (or in the examples/gorillamux/ directory)

Example (excerpt from webserver.go):

This example shows how to use GoRef in your web applications.
Here it tracks all web handler invocations.

Have a look at the usage documentation at godoc.org.

func indexHTML(w http.ResponseWriter, r *http.Request) {
	ref := goref.Ref("/")
	defer ref.Deref()

  <a href="/delayed.html">delayed.html</a><br />
  <a href="/goref.json">goref.json</a>`))

func delayedHTML(w http.ResponseWriter, r *http.Request) {
	ref := goref.Ref("/hello.html")
	defer ref.Deref()

	time.Sleep(200 * time.Millisecond)
	msg := fmt.Sprintf("The time is %s", time.Now().String())

func gorefJSON(w http.ResponseWriter, r *http.Request) {
	ref := goref.Ref("/goref.json")
	defer ref.Deref()

	data, _ := json.Marshal(goref.GetSnapshot().Data)

	w.Header().Add("Content-type", "application/json")

func main() {
	http.HandleFunc("/", indexHTML)
	http.HandleFunc("/delayed.html", delayedHTML)
	http.HandleFunc("/goref.json", gorefJSON)

	http.ListenAndServe("localhost:1234", nil)

Run it with

go run examples/webserver.go

and browse to http://localhost:1234/

After accessing each page a couple of times /goref.json should look something like this:

  "/": {
    "active": 0,
    "count": 6,
    "duration": 31131,
    "avgMsec": 0.0051885
  "/delayed.html": {
    "active": 0,
    "count": 4,
    "duration": 811560843,
    "avgMsec": 202.89021
  "/goref.json": {
    "active": 1,
    "count": 6,
    "duration": 443599,
    "avgMsec": 0.07393317
  • active: the number of currently active instances
  • count: number of (finished) instances (doesn't include the active ones yet)
  • duration: total time spent in that function (as time.Duration field)
  • avgMsec: calculated average (usec/(1000*total))

Using gorilla-mux

If you're using gorilla-mux, there's a simple way to add GoRef to your project:

(taken from the example in examples/gorillamux/)

func trackRequests(router *mux.Router) http.Handler {
  return http.HandlerFunc(func(w http.ResponseWriter, r *http.Request) {
    // Try to find the matching HTTP route (we'll use that as GoRef key)
    var match mux.RouteMatch
    if router.Match(r, &match) {
      path, _ := match.Route.GetPathTemplate()
      path = fmt.Sprintf("%s %s", r.Method, path)

      ref := goref.Ref(path)
      router.ServeHTTP(w, r)
    } else {
      // No route found (-> 404 error)
      router.ServeHTTP(w, r)

and in your main function something like:

var router = mux.NewRouter()
// add your routes here using router.HandleFunc() and the like
var addr = ":8080"
var handler = handlers.LoggingHandler(os.Stdout, trackRequests(router))
log.Fatal(http.ListenAndServe(addr, handler))

You'll get GoRef data looking something like this:

  "_children": {
    "app": {
      "data": {
        "processing": {
          "active": 0,
          "count": 11,
          "duration": 2232951708,
          "avgMsec": 202.9956
      "ts": "2017-06-02T21:50:11.717071564+02:00"
    "http": {
      "data": {
        "GET /": {
          "active": 0,
          "count": 13,
          "duration": 193220,
          "avgMsec": 0.014863077
        "GET /delayed.html": {
          "active": 0,
          "count": 11,
          "duration": 2233380060,
          "avgMsec": 203.03455
        "GET /goref.json": {
          "active": 1,
          "count": 4,
          "duration": 2025613,
          "avgMsec": 0.50640327
      "ts": "2017-06-02T21:50:11.71706162+02:00"
  "ts": "2017-06-02T21:50:11.717049391+02:00"

Requests matched by the same gorilla-mux route will be grouped together.

Performance impact

GoRef aims to have as little impact on your application's performance as possible.

That's why all the processing is done asynchronously in a separate goroutine.

In a benchmark run on my laptop, this typical ref counter snippet takes around a microsecond to run:

r := goref.Ref(); defer r.Deref()

Interestingly, things are a lot faster if we don't use defer as seen when running the bench_test.go benchmarks:

$ go test --run=XXX --bench=.
BenchmarkMeasureTime-4        	50000000	        33.9 ns/op
BenchmarkRefDeref-4           	 5000000	       339 ns/op
BenchmarkRefDerefDeferred-4   	 1000000	      1124 ns/op
BenchmarkGetSnapshot100-4     	  100000	     12367 ns/op
BenchmarkGetSnapshot1000-4    	   10000	    127117 ns/op
ok  	github.com/mreithub/goref	7.605s
  • BenchmarkMeasureTime() measures the cost of calling time.Now() twice and calculating the nanoseconds between them
  • BenchmarkRefDeref() calls goref.Ref("hello").Deref() directly (without using defer)
  • BenchmarkRefDerefDeferred() uses defer (as in the snippet above)
  • BenchmarkGetSnapshot*() measure the time it takes to take a snapshot of a GoRef instance with 100 and 1000 entries (= different keys) respectively
Open Source Agenda is not affiliated with "Goref" Project. README Source: mreithub/goref
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