Can I Collect an IntelliTrace Log in Production?

I’ve been hearing this question quite a bit…  “Can I collect an IntelliTrace log in Production?”  This would be a really good idea especially now that there is a standalone command-line utility, IntelliTrace.exe, that you can run to collect IntelliTrace log files.  Unfortunately, it looks like the Visual Studio 2010 Licensing White Paper answers that question for us on page 28:

The IntelliTrace DDA and/or IntelliTrace.exe cannot be used:

  • On a device or server in a production environment.
  • For purposes of system or application monitoring.
  • In non-interactive scenarios other than as part of an automated test or debugging-data collection session.

Bummer! :(  Honestly, I imagine that has to do with something around how IntelliTrace works and Microsoft doesn’t feel comfortable the impact it may have on running Production environments.  Just my conjecture though…

You’ll notice that you can use IntelliTrace in other instances though; most notably on development & test environments!

The IntelliTrace diagnostic data adapter (DDA) and/or IntelliTrace.exe can be used for test and debugging purposes:

  • As part of an interactive test or debugging session.
  • As part of an automated test or debugging-data collection session that is authored by a licensed user and triggered by the same or another licensed user.

You can even share IntelliTrace files between two companies as long as both companies are properly licensed!

IntelliTrace files may be shared among two or more companies as long as all users capturing and debugging IntelliTrace files are licensed with either Visual Studio 2010 Ultimate or Visual Studio Test Professional 2010, depending on the activities they are performing. For example, a company can share IntelliTrace files with an external development consultant. Similarly. a company can use an external company for testing purposes and debug IntelliTrace files provided by that vendor.

Here were the common scenarios mentioned in the licensing white paper.  See if you happen to fit into one of them:

Example 1: Finding a defect in a test environment Company A is building a Web application. All the developers are licensed for Visual Studio 2010 Ultimate with MSDN, and the testers are licensed with Visual Studio Test Professional 2010 with MSDN. During a test run a defect is discovered in the test environment that is difficult to reproduce in a development environment. The test machines have previously been configured with the Visual Studio Test Agent 2010, which includes the IntelliTrace DDA. The tester uses the Microsoft Test Manager to execute the test case with the IntelliTrace diagnostic data adapter (DDA) enabled. When the defect is encountered, the tester files a new bug, with the IntelliTrace files from each of the test machines is automatically attached to the bug. When a developer opens the bug using Visual Studio Ultimate, he or she can open the IntelliTrace files and step through the execution.

Example 2: Working with an external consultant In Example 1, Company A uses an external consultant to help with development. If the external consultant is licensed for Visual Studio Ultimate, he or she can open and debug the IntelliTrace files provided by Company A.

Example 3: Working with an external test vendor In Example 1, Company A uses Company B as an outsourced test vendor. The two companies can work together using IntelliTrace as long as all developers at Company A and all testers at company B are licensed appropriately.

I’m not sure what the minimal technical footprint is to get IntelliTrace.exe to collect an iTrace file just yet but my answer right now will be to have one of these installed:

  • Visual Studio 2010 Ultimate
  • Visual Studio 2010 Test Professional
  • Visual Studio 2010 Test Agents (additional software) <--- probably the smallest impact to a system

If I find out some more information about this scenario, then I’ll be putting together a future blog post!


Take care,

Ed Blankenship

Tuesday, 08 June 2010 17:45:36 (Pacific Daylight Time, UTC-07:00)
Thanks for this information.
It helped me take a NO GO decision to purchase the Ultimate edition.
Tuesday, 08 June 2010 17:58:08 (Pacific Daylight Time, UTC-07:00)
Interesting... do you not find value in getting the IntelliTrace information during the development & test cycle before you go to production? I find it infinitely valuable even though in this release you aren't licensed to collect IntelliTrace information in production environments.
Thursday, 10 June 2010 09:31:12 (Pacific Daylight Time, UTC-07:00)
I work for a product based company with customer installations running into a few thousand servers ..
It’s a fairly stable product and our most pressing issues are debugging production issues..
Almost half of it are 64 bit.. given the limitation of not able to attach remotely, no 64 bit support, no production license, it still doesn’t seem to make enough reason for us to go for it considering the cost vs value factor…
Thursday, 10 June 2010 09:42:48 (Pacific Daylight Time, UTC-07:00)
I agree about how unfortunate that we aren't licensed to use IntelliTrace in production or that there is a lack of 64-bit support. The product team definitely knows about the shortcomings and I would suspect that they are backlog items that would be addressed in the future especially since so many people are asking for it. Even without the 64-bit support, I don't think IntelliTrace is completely dead in the water for me. I can always temporarily switch Visual Studio to compile against x86 if I want to take advantage of advanced debugging features including IntelliTrace. I'm okay with that.

Testers using Microsoft Test Manager can even still collect IntelliTrace logs from compiled apps that are 64-bit. That is perfectly fine for me.

I suppose I do disagree with your cost vs. value opinion. Especially if you are not paying retail cost of Visual Studio Ultimate. Thanks for your insight!
Wednesday, 23 March 2011 18:15:04 (Pacific Standard Time, UTC-08:00)
FYI - There is now 64-bit Support for IntelliTrace introduced in Service Pack 1 of Visual Studio 2010.
Wednesday, 14 December 2011 17:51:32 (Pacific Standard Time, UTC-08:00)
Apparently even MS themselves don't seem to care about this restriction though, as evidenced by IntelliTrace in Azure.
Wednesday, 14 December 2011 20:02:28 (Pacific Standard Time, UTC-08:00)
Hi Tatham!

Yeah... I have a feeling the Microsoft team just didn't test it enough in a Production setting to feel comfortable with opening it up for people to do it.

However, before they would have added the feature in Azure to collect IntelliTrace logs, I bet they tested it heavily. They have also lifted the restriction for the next version of Visual Studio as well which is great.
Tuesday, 10 January 2012 18:39:07 (Pacific Standard Time, UTC-08:00)
I really happy that Microsoft will now allow us to collect IntelliTrace logs in Production for the next version of Visual Studio after Visual Studio 2010! That's really great to find out.
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