Evaluating an Interactive Memory Analysis Tool: Findings from a Cognitive Walkthrough and a User Study

Evaluating an Interactive Memory Analysis Tool: Findings from a Cognitive Walkthrough and a User Study

Authors: Markus Weninger, Paul Gr├╝nbacher, Elias Gander, Andreas Sch├Ârgenhumer

Abstract: Memory analysis tools are essential for finding and fixing anomalies in the memory usage of software systems (e.g., memory leaks). Although numerous tools are available, hardly any empirical studies exist on their usefulness for developers in typical usage scenarios. Instead, most evaluations are limited to reporting performance metrics. We thus conducted a study to empirically assess the usefulness of the interactive memory analysis tool AntTracks Analyzer. Specifically, we first report findings from assessing the tool using a cognitive walkthrough, guided by the Cognitive Dimensions of Notations Framework. We then present the results of a qualitative user study involving 14 subjects who used AntTracks to detect and resolve memory anomalies. We report lessons learned from the study and implications for developers of interactive memory analysis tools. We hope that our results will help researchers and developers of memory analysis tools in defining, selecting, and improving tool capabilities.

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