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This documentation relates to an old version of VIVO, version 1.6.x. Looking for another version? See all documentation.

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Diagnostic tools that can help you figure out what VIVO is doing.


Are you developing code for VIVO? Are you doing some extreme customization? You might benefit from VIVO's set of built-in diagnostic tools.

These tools help to reveal how VIVO operates behind the scenes. In general, they are only used during development, because they may have serious negative effects on the performance of the VIVO application. However, they may also be used (carefully) in production, to diagnose a particularly difficult problem.

The diagnostic tools are enabled and controlled by settings within VIVO. These settings may be changed interactively, without restarting VIVO. The settings may also be read from a file, so they will be in effect as VIVO is starting up.


Developer Mode

When the diagnostic tools are enabled, VIVO is said to be running in "Developer Mode".  This reflects the fact that all of the developer settings are ignored unless the tools as a whole are enabled.

Developer Settings

These are parameters that control the diagnostic tools. They may be set interactively, using the Developer Panel, or read from the developer.settings file at startup.

The Developer Panel

When VIVO is in developer mode, the Developer Panel appears on every page. This serves two purposes:

  1. It enables you to change the Developer Settings without navigating away from your current page.
  2. It provides a visual reminder that VIVO is in Developer Mode. If a production instance were accidentally configured to run in Developer Mode, it would be easily noticed.

No Developer PanelDeveloper Panel (closed)

Entering Developer Mode

developer.properties file

When VIVO starts up, it looks for a file in the home directory, named developer.properties.  If the file is found, the settings are read from it. Any settings that are not found in the file keep their default values. If the file is not found, then all settings keep their default values until set interactively.

A typical developer.properties file

This example causes:

  • Developer Mode is enabled immediately. The specified settings are in effect even while VIVO is starting.
  • Users who are not logged in can manipulate the developer settings. Obviously, this should only be permitted on a development system.
  • The Freemarker template cache is defeated. Each time a template is requested, it will be loaded from disk. This will cause VIVO to run more slowly, but it means that a developer can see the effects of a template change immediately, instead of waiting for the template to expire and be reloaded.

The VIVO distribution includes an example.developer.properties file.  It contains descriptions of all of the settings, with examples. You can rename example.developer.properties to developer.properties, and uncomment the settings you want to use.

Interactively entering developer mode

Log in as a system administrator (or root). Go to the Site Administration page. Click on Activate developer panel.

The Developer Panel will immediately appear below the page header. You may click on the panel to open it and change the settings. The Developer Panel will continue to appear in every page (except for some "back-end" pages for editing the ontology).

The settings

When open, the developer panel looks like this:

The following tables show the meaning of each setting in the developer panel, and how to specify it in the developer.properties file.

General settings

In the panelEnable developer mode
In the filedeveloper.enabled
EffectCauses the developer panel to be displayed on each VIVO page. Enables all of the other developer settings. If this is false, other settings will retain their values, but will not take effect.
In the panelAllow anonymous user to see and modify developer settings
In the filedeveloper.permitAnonymousControl
EffectIf true, any VIVO user may change the developer settings. If false, only a system administrator (or root) may change the settings.

Freemarker settings

In the panelDefeat the template cache
In the filedeveloper.defeatFreemarkerCache
EffectIf true, each Freemarker template is loaded from disk each time it is used. If false, a template change may be on disk for up to one minute before it is loaded.
In the panelInsert HTML comments and start and end of templates
In the filedeveloper.insertFreemarkerDelimiters

If true, you may view the HTML source for a VIVO page to see which Freemarker templates were used to create each portion of the page. For example:

<!-- FM_BEGIN view-search-default.ftl -->
<a href="/vivo/display/n2252" title="individual name">Oswald, Jeremiah</a>
        <span class="display-title">Faculty Member</span>
<p class="snippet"></p><!-- FM_END view-search-default.ftl -->

SPARQL Query settings

In the panelLOG each query
In the filedeveloper.loggingRDFService.enable

Write an entry to the log for each SPARQL query, assuming that INFO-level logging is enabled for the RDFServiceLogger. Each entry includes

  • The time spent executing the query
  • The name of the method on RDFService that received the query
  • The format of the result stream from RDFService
  • The text of the query.

The remaining settings in this area can be used to restrict which queries are logged, or to include more information for each query.

In the panelAdd stack trace
In the filedeveloper.loggingRDFService.stackTrace
EffectEach log entry will include a stack trace. The trace is abridged so it starts after the ApplicationFilterChain, omits any Jena classes, and ends at the RDFService.
In the panelRestrict by query string
In the filedeveloper.loggingRDFService.queryRestriction
EffectSet this to a regular expression. A query will be logged only if the text of the query matches the regular expression, in whole or in part.
In the panelRestrict by calling stack
In the filedeveloper.loggingRDFService.stackRestriction
EffectSet this to a regular expression. A query will be logged only if the abridged calling stack matches the regular expression, in whole or in part.

Page configuration settings

In the panelLog the use of custom list view XML files.
In the filedeveloper.pageContents.logCustomListView
EffectWrite an entry to the log each time a property is displayed using a list view other than the default lists view.
In the panelLog the use of custom short views in search, index and browse pages.
In the filedeveloper.pageContents.logCustomShortView
EffectWrite an entry to the log each time a search result is displayed using a short view other than the default view for that context.

Language support settings

In the panelDefeat the cache of language property files
In the filedeveloper.i18n.defeatCache
EffectIf true, the language property files are re-loaded each time they are called for. If false, the language property files are loaded only once, when VIVO starts up.
In the panelLog the retrieval of language strings
In the filedeveloper.i18n.logStringRequests.
EffectWrite an entry to the log each time a language-specific string is retrieved from one of the language property files.

The links

The developer panel also contains several links to special VIVO pages that may be helpful to developers.

Link textSet log levels
The pageDisplays the logging levels of every Java class in VIVO, providing that it has an active Log. You must be logged in as a system administrator (or root) to use this page. Find the class you are interested in, set the logging level, then scroll to the bottom of the page to Submit changes to logging levels.
Link textShow Configuration
The pageDisplays a list of the build.properties and runtime.properties. Displays a list of the System properties in the Java virtual machine.
Link textShow authorization info
The pageDisplays information about the user who is currently logged in, the identifiers associated with that user, and the permissions they have been granted. Display information about the configured Policy objects, and related objects.
Link textShow background threads
The pageDisplays information about the active background threads. These threads may be rebuilding the search index, re-inferencing the knowledge base, or rebuilding the Class Cache.

What if the developer panel doesn't appear?

If you are using a custom theme, and you created it from a VIVO release prior to 1.6, it's likely that your theme doesn't display the developer panel.

Confirm that the template [vivo]/webapp/themes/[your_theme]/templates/menu.ftl contains an include directive like this one:

Excerpt from menu.ftl
<#-- $This file is distributed under the terms of the license in /doc/license.txt$ -->


<#include "developer.ftl">

<nav role="navigation">

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