Debug Java Application Issues – Part -2 (Issue Debugging – Application Unresponsive)

In last blog we learned about diff. thread states in java, in this blog we will understand how to use that knowledge to debug application issues using fasthreadanalyzer tool.

Lets take one type of issue we see with Java Applications:

Application Unresponsive Issue

When we say application in unresponsive<it can mean different things to diff. people>, here we mean that application is not responding to external api calls.

Lets take an example of a Spring Boot application not responding to the Http API Calls. There can be several reasons to it:

  • Total Http Thread in tomcat (or whatever container spring is using) are consumed
    • Causes :
      • It could be because of some high cpu consuming work is done in those threads and all those threads are stuck doing that work <now to connect with thread states – those threads consuming cpu would be in RUNNABLE state , so we should be looking for lots of RUNNABLE state thread in the jstack>
      • It could be because of those threads are waiting on some external IO <now to connect with thread states – those threads are logically stuck on some IO to complete, means those threads would be in WAITING/BLOCKED state, we should be looking for threads with such states>
    • How to debug via jstack:
      • Take multiple jstacks
      • Now in every jstack to understand the what diff. thread are doing in which states they are stuck we will use the tool https://fastthreadanalyzer.com/. Just upload your jstack in this tool.
      • They will show you a table like this <thread group (generally http threads are part of group names http-bio-443-exec) vs count (total count of threads in this group) vs thread states(count of each thread state for these threads)>:

Now to make sense of the information above we will first see whether our http threads are available or not

  • if thread count on tool and thread count configured in tomcat.conf (or any other container configuration) ir equal to max thread count , that means all http threads are doing something and new requests cannot be processed
    • Yes
      • Now if stuck we will see what they are doing by seeing their thread states if most of them on running
        • means something in you application is taking long time to complete or system is bombarded with many http calls
      • Now if you see these threads are stuck on waiting/timed waiting/blocked that means most probably these threads are doing some IO and waiting on it
    • No
      • Some other issue may be related to JVM

Now to dig further exactly where the threads are waiting or stuck , you can click on the corresponding thread group and system will show what those threads are doing group by similar stack and their thread state, eg:

Now you can see the threads grouped by State and Stack , using this information you can figure out which service in the application is actually consuming the threads.

There could be many other reasons like JVM stuck , machine unresponsive we are not going in detail for them.

With the fast thread tool you can debug many such issues, we will cover more diff. type of issues in future posts.

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