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Code Tip: Simpler Performance Timer Logging in C#

At this point application logging is pretty trivial as there are tons of logging libraries available for use. However, logging of performance timing is a bit ambiguous. There are many ways to do it, and one of the most common is to use the System.Diagnostics.Stopwatch class. Rather, than just embed the Stopwatch class code within and mixed with your application code; in this post I'll cover a more graceful approach to using a simple class along with the C# using keyword. If you're familiar with the MiniProfiler project, then you'll already be familiar with this type of class / usage.

Here's a quick example of gathering simple performance timing using the Stopwatch class:

using System.Diagnostics;

var timer = new Stopwatch();
timer.Start();

// do something you want to profile

timer.Stop();
var ms = timer.ElapsedMilliseconds;

// write timing to logs

 

While the above example is fairly simple, your code can start to get messy. So, lets make it better by encapsulating it into a special class to make it as easy to use as possible.

First, here's the usage example of the performance timing logging class that will be listed below:

using (new PerfTimerLogger("name of code being profiled"))
{
    // do something you want to profile
}

Now, as you can see the above code is MUCH simpler to implement within your code and not very intrusive. Basically, 2 lines of code, instead of 4; and not extra variables to keep track of.

Here's an implementation of the PerfTimerLogger class that allows it to be used as the above example demonstrates:

using System.Diagnostics;

public class PerfTimerLogger : IDisposable
{
    public PerfTimerLogger(string message)
    {
        this._message = message;
        this._timer = new Stopwatch();
        this._timer.Start();
    }

    string _message;
    Stopwatch _timer;

    public void Dispose()
    {
        this._timer.Stop();
        var ms = this._timer.ElapsedMilliseconds;

        // log the performance timing with the Logging library of your choice
        // Example:
        // Logger.Write(
        //     string.Format("{0} - Elapsed Milliseconds: {1}", this._message, ms)
        // );
    }
}

The way this class works the way it does is coupled with how the using keyword and Disposable work together under the covers in the .NET CLI. In order to use the using keyword the class needs to implement IDisposable. When the code exits the scope of the block of code within the using statement, the CLI and Garbage Collector immediately calls the Dispose method on the object and cleans up the memory usage of that object. Because the using statement functions this way allows for any class, such as PerfTimerLogger, to be able to "know" when it's exactly instantiated as well as finished being used; disposed.

Hope this simple tips either helps you implement better logging infrastructure within your applications, or just gives you a better understanding of how the insides of the .NET Framework function.

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