Step 5: Define a Future Avoidance Strategy in Software

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Step 5: Define a Future Avoidance Strategy
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At this point, you have identified that there is a resource leak, done an initial analysis, ran the necessary leak detection tools, and finally identified and fixed the offending code The next step, and perhaps the most crucial, is ensuring that what you just discovered does not happen again; the best way of doing this is to define a future avoidance strategy for that particular problem As much as we would like to think that we never make the same mistake twice, it happens; and it happens often By making use of our everyday tools, we can take out part of that human error from our code and let it be automatically handled by the system
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Reproducibility of Resource Leaks
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Reproducibility of resource leaks can take on several different shapes The three main categories of reproductions are
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Sequential and fully reproducible Sporadic and reproducible a majority of the time Sporadic and reproducible very infrequently
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9 RESOURCE LEAKS
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Sequential and fully reproducible resource leaks are typically encountered during development time while running unit tests or an automation test suite These resource leaks typically surface each time a test is run Furthermore, running the same test with the same input reproduces the same resource leak As it turns out, these types of leaks are also the easiest to investigate
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Sporadic resource leaks that are reproducible most of the time might allow for the luxury of enabling leak detection tools and waiting for a few days for the leak to occur again This assumes that the customer is willing to wait for another occurrence of the problem If he is not, the scenario turns into the third category of problems and also the toughest form of resource leaks If a resource leak reproduces infrequently enough, it is not always feasible to simply tell the customer to enable leak detection tools and then sit back and wait Customers running your application or service on production machines might be hesitant to install utilities and tools that are not part of the operating system Furthermore, some leak detection tools slow the processing down and consume more memory than desirable In these cases, the only two options at your disposal are to either ask for debugging permissions on their servers (hardly ever granted) or to perform postmortem debugging Postmortem involves taking a snapshot of the process and analyzing the memory snap on a different machine (For more information on postmortem debugging, see 13) Because no leak detection tools were run prior to the process starting, you are now faced with finding a resource leak by merely analyzing the state of the process These can prove to be daunting tasks that can make the best of software engineers question their abilities In the following sections, you will see specific examples of resource leaks and how to analyze them Each of the sections describes a specific type of resource leak It is important to understand that although we are only covering a few of the possible resource leaks, the five-step resource leak analysis process described can be applied to any type of resource leak
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Handle Leaks
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The Windows kernel defines a set of object types that are native to the Windows operating system Examples of such object types are file objects, process objects, and thread objects Each object type has an associated set of properties and APIs that work on that particular object type As an example, consider a file object A file object has a set of attributes that dictate if a file is hidden, visible, system, and so on To perform work on an object type, the associated set of APIs must be used For example, the Win32 API CreateFile allows you to create or open a file object Although the Windows kernel is mostly implemented in C, you can view the object type properties and functions as a method of implementing encapsulation using C The object types themselves are not exposed directly; rather they require that the developer manipulates the object types via the C APIs, thereby hiding the details of the type and enabling the internals of the type to change over time Furthermore, the encapsulation model promotes a more robust form of development because the encapsulated
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