Getting Started


Let's say you are writing a lib which performs some work in a loop quickly (up to several million times per second). You need to allow your users to monitor this loop, but the requirements vary: One user just wants to count the total number of cycles, another wants to measure the performance and write some metrics to a file regularly, etc. The only requirement that everybody has is maximum performance.

Maybe you also have an item on your wishlist: To allow your less techie users to configure the monitoring without coding. Sometimes you even dream of reconfiguring the monitoring while the app is running...


The package is registered, so simply: julia> using Pkg; Pkg.add("Plugins"). (repo)

Your first and second plugins

The first one simply counts the calls to the tick() hook.

using Plugins, Printf, Test

mutable struct CounterPlugin <: Plugin
    CounterPlugin() = new(0)

Plugins.symbol(::CounterPlugin) = :counter # For access from the outside / from other plugins

function tick(me::CounterPlugin, app)
    me.count += 1

The second will measure the frequency of tick() calls:

mutable struct PerfPlugin <: Plugin
    PerfPlugin() = new(time_ns(), 0)

Plugins.symbol(::PerfPlugin) = :perf

tickfreq(me::PerfPlugin) = 1e9 / me.avg_elapsed;

When the tick() hook is called, it calculates the time difference to the stored timestamp of the last call, and updates the exponential moving average:

const alpha = 1.0f-3

function tick(me::PerfPlugin, app)
    ts = time_ns()
    diff = ts - me.last_call_ts
    me.last_call_ts = ts
    me.avg_elapsed = alpha * Float32(diff) + (1.0f0 - alpha) * me.avg_elapsed

The application

Now let's create the base system. Its state holds the plugins and a counter (just to cross-check the CounterPlugin):

mutable struct App
    App(plugins, hookfns) = new(PluginStack(plugins, hookfns), 0)

There is a single operation on the app, which increments the tick_counter in a cycle and calls the tick() hook:

function tickerop(app::App)
    tickhook = hooks(app).tick
    tickerop_kern(app, tickhook) # Using a function barrier to get ~5ns per hook activation

function tickerop_kern(app::App, tickhook)
    for i = 1:1e6
        app.tick_counter += 1
        tickhook(app) # We can pass shared state to plugins on the hook. Here, for simplicity, the whole app.

Running it

The last step is to initialize the app, call the operation, and read out the performance measurement from the plugins:

app = App([CounterPlugin, PerfPlugin], [tick])

@test app.plugins[:counter].count == app.tick_counter
println("Tick count: $(app.plugins[:counter].count)")
println("Average cycle time: $(@sprintf("%.2f", app.plugins[:perf].avg_elapsed)) nanoseconds, frequency: $(@sprintf("%.2f", tickfreq(app.plugins[:perf]) / 1e6)) MHz")
Tick count: 1000000
Average cycle time: 36.79 nanoseconds, frequency: 27.18 MHz

That was on the CI. On an i7 7700K I typically get around 19.95ns / 50.14 MHz. There is no overhead compared to a direct call of the manually merged tick() methods.

You can find this example under docs/examples/gettingstarted.jl if you check out the repo.

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