December 28, 2006

Airbag, Google Crash Reporter

Airbag is an open source tool from Google that can be used to identify why a program you're developing crashes. "If developers could get reliable and automatic reports when their programs crash, they'd be able to figure out which ones happen most frequently, and more importantly, be able to fix them. Writing a system to handle crash reports is a lot of work though, and writing a crash reporter that works across a variety of hardware configurations and operating systems is even harder," explained Airbag's developers.

Fortunately, that's exactly what Google's software aims to be. Airbag currently works in Windows, Mac and will be soon available for Linux, but you have to know how to work with Subversion to get the source. The system has client libraries that generate crash reports and a server library that receives these reports. "The server-side process library in turn reads the crash dumps and transforms them into information that is useful for debugging. The build tools are able to make sense of native debugging information, turning the data into a format that is understandable by the processor," is happy to inform us Sean Michael Kerner.

It's very interesting to note that Airbag has already a major supporter in Mozilla, that will add it in the next version of Firefox. "We don't have a formal roadmap, but we do have an informal mission statement, which is to provide a set of crash reporting libraries that can be integrated into a large project, namely, Firefox," said Mark Mentovai, who works for this project at Google.