[llvm-dev] DExTer: Debugging Experience Tester

Greg Bedwell via llvm-dev llvm-dev at lists.llvm.org
Fri Aug 31 16:26:18 PDT 2018

I'm happy to announce that DExTer (Debugging Experience Tester) is now
available on github at https://github.com/SNSystems/dexter .  To quote from
the project readme:

"DExTer is a suite of tools used to evaluate the "User Debugging
Experience". DExTer drives an external debugger, running on small test
programs, and collects information on the behavior at each debugger step to
provide quantitative values that indicate the quality of the debugging

My hope is that it will be a useful tool to help find both existing cases
of poor debug experience as well as spot any regressions in that experience
as they occur.  As I've previously stated, I think that this should be
nicely complementary to other utlities such as debugify
DIVA <https://github.com/SNSystems/DIVA>. We also intend to contribute
continuous DExTer testing of LLVM trunk in the future so we'll be able to
immediately track any differences in the debugging experience score down to
individual commits as they happen.

For now we've been using it to find small cases where debugging of clang
compiled programs at "-O2 -g" is significantly worse than with "-O0 -g" in
ways that can hopefully be resolved through more careful preservation of
debug data.  We're using the following meta-bug to keep track of the issues
that we find (and hopefully fix):

The original slides and poster that I presented at EuroLLVM earlier this
year can be found here:


Thanks to everyone who's helped out with the development of DExTer so far,
especially to Stephen Wilks who worked closely with me on the initial
development of the project.

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