Tracing format tools for FBP

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A flowtrace is a persisted record of the execution of an Flow-based Programming (FBP) or dataflow program. It is used for retroactive (after-the-fact) debugging; to locate, understand and fix bugs.
The concept is analogous to a 'stacktrace' or 'core dump' for imperative code.
This project provides a data format to store traces in, and provide debugging tools for working with these traces, as well as JavaScript library for recording and producing them.


In production
  • NoFlo has support for creating flowtraces from 1.3.0 onwards. Can be triggered programmatically, via fbp-protocol, or with the noflo-nodejs command-line tool
  • fbp-spec 0.8 has support for capturing flowtraces of test runs
  • Several commandline tools exist for working with flowtraces
  • Note: File format not 100% finalized

See braindump for ideas/plans.


First make sure you have Node.js with NPM installed.
To install locally in a project. Recommended.
npm install flowtrace
To install globally on your system
npm install -g flowtrace

Display flowtrace on commandline

flowtrace-show reads a flowtrace, and renders a human-friendly log output from it.
npx flowtrace-show mytrace.flowtrace.json
Example output:
-> IN repeat CONN
-> IN repeat DATA hello world
-> IN stdout CONN
-> IN stdout DATA hello world
-> IN repeat DISC
-> IN stdout DISC

When used in a terminal, supports colors.

Show a flowtrace in Flowhub

flowtrace-replay reads a flowtrace, and then acts as a live FBP runtime. That means it can be used with any FBP IDEs/client which support the FBP runtime protocol.
npx flowtrace-replay mytrace.flowtrace.json
By default this will open Flowhub in your browser, automatically connect and show you the graph. To replay the data press the play button. You should then see the data flowing through edges.
Flowtrace replayed in Flowhub
You can specify which --ide to use, and disable automatic opening of browser with -n.
npx flowtrace-replay --ide http://localhost:8888 -n
You can also set the --host and --port. See --help for all options.

Recording flowtraces in JavaScript

It is possible to use this library for recording and serializing flowtraces. Quick example:
const { Flowtrace } = require('flowtrace');

const tracer = new Flowtrace({
  // metadata about this run

// Register the main graph you're tracing
tracer.addGraph('example', myGraph, true);
// You should also call addGraph for each subgraph that is running

myProgram.on('packet', (packet) => {
  // Tell Flowtracer about each packet that arrives
  tracer.addNetworkpacket('network:data', packet.src, packet.tgt, 'example', packet.data);

myProgram.on('end', () => {
  // Once your program is finished (or errors), you can dump the Flowtrace
  const myTrace = tracer.toJSON();
  fs.writeFile('example.flowtrace.json', myTrace, (err) => {
    // ...

See the src/lib/Flowtrace.js file for more information.