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The GNU Awk User's Guide

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11.5 Profiling Your awk Programs

Beginning with version 3.1 of gawk, you may produce execution traces of your awk programs. This is done with a specially compiled version of gawk, called pgawk ("profiling gawk").

pgawk is identical in every way to gawk, except that when it has finished running, it creates a profile of your program in a file named `awkprof.out'. Because it is profiling, it also executes up to 45% slower than gawk normally does.

As shown in the following example, the `--profile' option can be used to change the name of the file where pgawk will write the profile:

$ pgawk --profile=myprog.prof -f myprog.awk data1 data2

In the above example, pgawk places the profile in `myprog.prof' instead of in `awkprof.out'.

Regular gawk also accepts this option. When called with just `--profile', gawk "pretty prints" the program into `awkprof.out', without any execution counts. You may supply an option to `--profile' to change the file name. Here is a sample session showing a simple awk program, its input data, and the results from running pgawk. First, the awk program:

BEGIN { print "First BEGIN rule" }

END { print "First END rule" }

/foo/ {
    print "matched /foo/, gosh"
    for (i = 1; i <= 3; i++)

    if (/foo/)
        print "if is true"
        print "else is true"

BEGIN { print "Second BEGIN rule" }

END { print "Second END rule" }

function sing(    dummy)
    print "I gotta be me!"

Following is the input data:


Here is the `awkprof.out' that results from running pgawk on this program and data (this example also illustrates that awk programmers sometimes have to work late):

        # gawk profile, created Sun Aug 13 00:00:15 2000

        # BEGIN block(s)

        BEGIN {
     1          print "First BEGIN rule"
     1          print "Second BEGIN rule"

        # Rule(s)

     5  /foo/   { # 2
     2          print "matched /foo/, gosh"
     6          for (i = 1; i <= 3; i++) {
     6                  sing()

     5  {
     5          if (/foo/) { # 2
     2                  print "if is true"
     3          } else {
     3                  print "else is true"

        # END block(s)

        END {
     1          print "First END rule"
     1          print "Second END rule"

        # Functions, listed alphabetically

     6  function sing(dummy)
     6          print "I gotta be me!"

This example illustrates many of the basic rules for profiling output. The rules are as follows:

The profiled version of your program may not look exactly like what you typed when you wrote it. This is because pgawk creates the profiled version by "pretty printing" its internal representation of the program. The advantage to this is that pgawk can produce a standard representation. The disadvantage is that all source-code comments are lost, as are the distinctions among multiple BEGIN and END rules. Also, things such as:


come out as:

/foo/   {
    print $0

which is correct, but possibly surprising.

Besides creating profiles when a program has completed, pgawk can produce a profile while it is running. This is useful if your awk program goes into an infinite loop and you want to see what has been executed. To use this feature, run pgawk in the background:

$ pgawk -f myprog &
[1] 13992

The shell prints a job number and process ID number; in this case, 13992. Use the kill command to send the USR1 signal to pgawk:

$ kill -USR1 13992

As usual, the profiled version of the program is written to `awkprof.out', or to a different file if you use the `--profile' option.

Along with the regular profile, as shown earlier, the profile includes a trace of any active functions:

# Function Call Stack:

#   3. baz
#   2. bar
#   1. foo
# -- main --

You may send pgawk the USR1 signal as many times as you like. Each time, the profile and function call trace are appended to the output profile file.

If you use the HUP signal instead of the USR1 signal, pgawk produces the profile and the function call trace and then exits.

When pgawk runs on MS-DOS or MS-Windows, it uses the INT and QUIT signals for producing the profile and, in the case of the INT signal, pgawk exits. This is because these systems don't support the kill command, so the only signals you can deliver to a program are those generated by the keyboard. The INT signal is generated by the Ctrl-C or Ctrl-BREAK key, while the QUIT signal is generated by the Ctrl-\ key.

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