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Handler Tracking

To aid in debugging asynchronous programs, Boost.Asio provides support for handler tracking. When enabled by defining BOOST_ASIO_ENABLE_HANDLER_TRACKING, Boost.Asio writes debugging output to the standard error stream. The output records asynchronous operations and the relationships between their handlers.

This feature is useful when debugging and you need to know how your asynchronous operations are chained together, or what the pending asynchronous operations are. As an illustration, here is the output when you run the HTTP Server example, handle a single request, then shut down via Ctrl+C:


Each line is of the form:


The <tag> is always @asio, and is used to identify and extract the handler tracking messages from the program output.

The <timestamp> is seconds and microseconds from 1 Jan 1970 UTC.

The <action> takes one of the following forms:


The program entered the handler number n. The <description> shows the arguments to the handler.


The program left handler number n.


The program left handler number n due to an exception.


The handler number n was destroyed without having been invoked. This is usually the case for any unfinished asynchronous operations when the io_service is destroyed.


The handler number n created a new asynchronous operation with completion handler number m. The <description> shows what asynchronous operation was started.


The handler number n performed some other operation. The <description> shows what function was called. Currently only close() and cancel() operations are logged, as these may affect the state of pending asynchronous operations.

Where the <description> shows a synchronous or asynchronous operation, the format is <object-type>@<pointer>.<operation>. For handler entry, it shows a comma-separated list of arguments and their values.

As shown above, Each handler is assigned a numeric identifier. Where the handler tracking output shows a handler number of 0, it means that the action was performed outside of any handler.

Visual Representations

The handler tracking output may be post-processed using the included tool to create a visual representation of the handlers (requires the GraphViz tool dot).