Visualizing Request-Flow Comparison
Distributed systems are complex to develop and administer, and performance problem diagnosis is particularly challenging. When performance degrades, the problem might be in any of the system's many components or could be a result of poor interactions among them. Recent research efforts have created tools that automatically localize the problem to a small number of potential culprits, but effective visualizations are needed to help developers understand and explore their results. This paper compares side-by-side, diff, and animation-based approaches for visualizing the results of one proven automated localization technique called request-flow comparison. Via a 26-person user study, which included real distributed systems developers, we identify the unique benefits that each approach provides for different usage modes and problem types.