HOWTO: Simple profiling with Spring AOP

September 2, 2009 at 8:48 am Leave a comment

As part of its AOP package, Spring has a very nice little utility class called CustomizableTraceInterceptor which can be used to easily profile and debug your application using automatic logging of method invocations, including name of the method, parameters (using toString()), return values and invocation times. It doesn’t replace proper debugger and/or profiler but it can provide you a lot of interesting data with minimal cost. It can be even used in production as it can be turned on/off easily.

So how does it work? It uses Spring AOP capabilities to wrap around beans you choose to add a little code that will output invocation data before the method is called, and will output return values and execution time after it finishes. The best practise it to apply the interceptor on client facing beans – in other words entry points of your server so you can easily monitor what is called, when it’s called and how long did it take.

So how to add it? First thing you need to define a subclass of CustomizableTraceInterceptor like this:

public class MyTraceInterceptor extends CustomizableTraceInterceptor {

  protected void writeToLog(Log logger, String message, Throwable ex) {
    if (ex != null) {, ex);
    } else {;

 protected boolean isInterceptorEnabled(MethodInvocation invocation, Log logger) {
   return true;

By overriding writeToLog() method you control output severity and destination. Overriding isInterceptorEnabled() allows you to finely control when tracing should happen – you could for example decide not to trace methods that start with “foo*”. Simply returning true means trace always.

Now that you have your interceptor defined it’s time to apply it to your beans. Add this to your spring.xml

    <bean name="traceInterceptor" class="MyTraceInterceptor" dependency-check="none">
        <property name="enterMessage" value="ENTER: $&#91;targetClassShortName&#93;.$&#91;methodName&#93;($&#91;arguments&#93;)"/>
        <property name="exitMessage"
                  value="EXIT: $&#91;targetClassShortName&#93;.$&#91;methodName&#93;() : $&#91;invocationTime&#93;ms : $&#91;returnValue&#93;"/>

    <bean class="org.springframework.aop.framework.autoproxy.BeanNameAutoProxyCreator" dependency-check="none">
        <property name="beanNames" value="*RequestListener,*Notifier"/>
        <property name="proxyTargetClass" value="true"/>
        <property name="interceptorNames">

        <property name="order" value="2"/>

First definition instantiates the interceptor and defines format of the trace messages.

Second bean applies the interceptor to your beans using “beanNames” to select the beans with the wild card. If you use “*” it will mean it will wrap all your beans, so you probably want to input something meaningful here.

And that’s it. Rerun your app, call some methods and open up log files. You will see the traces there.


Entry filed under: Java, Open Source, Recipies.

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