performance profiling tools

How to Choose the Best Performance Profiling Tools

Charris Herrera Developer Tips, Tricks & Resources

You finish writing your code and launch your application. Then, you begin experiencing performance issues. How can you fix this? It doesn’t matter how talented your development team is, every code should always be analyzed, debugged, and reviewed to make it run faster. What you need is a performance profiling tool.

In this article, you will learn about performance profiling and how to determine the best performance profiling tools for your software.

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What is Performance Profiling?

You may be confident of your coding skills or your development team’s coding, but very few lines of code can run at peak performance when they are first written. Profiling is the next level in diagnostics and debugging to make sure your code compiles and runs as expected.

When we say performance profiling, it is not just one metric. Profiling can refer to testing various aspects of the application. Most developers think of performance profilers as a situational tool and not something they can use on a day-to-day basis.

Let’s say you have an application ready to launch. If this application is running smoothly without performance problems, some developers think there is no need for a performance profiler. Once performance issues create issues in the application, that is when they use a profiler.

There is nothing wrong with this whole process.  However it is a reactive way of managing applications performance.  Proactive monitoring and profiling would detect and fix bottlenecks before end users experience performance issues? Performance profiling tools examine an application’s code so that developers can locate and eliminate performance bottlenecks. Before you launch your application, it is better to run thorough performance profiling to know that your application is ready.

Read more about code profiling and the different types of code profilers.

Life Without Performance Profiling Tools

Performance profiling tools touch on different aspects in the application. It can help developers identify performance issues without even altering the code. Here are a few performance issues that profilers can address:

Mishandled CPU time

Using modern practices in code offers developers a lot of benefits, while outdated practices result in a lot of disadvantages. Not using asynchronous patterns can greatly affect your application’s performance. Not caching properly slows down your application.

Mishandled Memory

Your application can slow down if you are allocating too much memory or allocating too often. Improper garbage collection also contributes to the slow application performance. This is when you keep hanging on to objects that are well past their lifetime. In this case, you need to deallocate.

External Dependencies

This performance issue is very tricky since you don’t have total access to external factors connected to your application. For example, you have user code but there are API calls on different networks. Locating the problem on your own can be complicated. You need a tool to find and solve the issue efficiently.

How to Choose the Best Performance Profiling Tools

Code optimization requires a lot of time, thought, and effort from the development team. Individually checking the code is a viable option. But choosing not to optimize is not an option. Without the proper tools, programmers have to resort to blind guessing performance issues which are inefficient and inaccurate. This approach misdiagnoses performance bottlenecks and is a waste of time for the development team and a disappointment to end-users.

There can be a lot of end user performance issues if you deploy an application without properly optimizing your code using a performance profiling tool. Make sure you choose the right performance profiling tool to improve your application and compete in the market. Here are a few points that you must consider in choosing:

Ease of Use

Invasive and difficult to use.  These are some of the reasons why developers are slow to adopt profiling tools. Some profilers, especially the traditional ones, add overhead to application execution. Instead of solving problems, they pile up issues.

Choose a profiler that allows you to diagnose performance problems quickly and conveniently. It needs to have a simple and clear set of commands so developers can react quickly. Complex commands can take up too much time since it requires a great amount of learning. Your developers don’t have enough time to learn and configure overly complicated tools.


The profiler should generate a detailed report. However, this information is useless if you don’t understand the information. The profiler should have a robust reporting system where you can find all the information the developer needs and is flexible enough to be filtered. Also, the report should be viewed in one location.


The profiler needs to profile the code in various ways. Remember that application performance issues have several different aspects: overall application performance, operating system resource storage, and memory allocation. A good and versatile performance profiling tool makes sure the developer can improve code to several ways.

Minimal Impact

Select a profiler that crawls through the code without modifying anything. Some profilers require code modification to make accurate measurements. Modifying code creates many problems for the developers to the point of questioning whether the profiler itself is injecting problems into the application. That is why you need a profiler that does not require changes in source code.

Stackify’s Code Profiler

Performance profiling is essential and could save your application performance. It can determine issues and prompts developers to take action.

In choosing the best profiling tool, you need to consider the ease of use, detailed reporting, measurements, and minimal impact on your code. All these characteristics are present in Stackify Prefix and Retrace. These tools are lightweight, easy to install, and convenient for everyday use by developers. You can optimize bottlenecks quickly and easily before you push your code.

Profiling is made better with Prefix to easily find slow SQL queries, hidden exceptions, and other issues in your application. Stackify’s free code profiler Prefix helps developers write better code on your workstation for .NET, Java, PHP, Node.js, Ruby, and Python applications.

Ready to see them in action? Try Retrace and Prefix now!