Wednesday, 26 May 2021

The Impact of System.debug

TL;DR

Your System.debug statements are consuming resources even when you aren't capturing debug logs. 
If you are passing complex datatype parameters to System.debug then they will consume more resources, as they will be converted to strings (before being discarded as you aren't capturing debug logs!)

Introduction

This week the London Salesforce Developers hosted Paul Battisson and his Turn it up to 11- Improving the Performance of Your Apex code talk, which reminded me of something that has been on my list of things to look at - the impact of System.debug statements on your code.

In Paul's talk he points out that the act of measuring the consumed CPU time and writing the metric to the debug log consumes a small amount of CPU time. And many Apex developers know that turning on debug logging in Salesforce impacts the duration of a transaction, sometimes significantly if the debug log generates multiple megabytes of information - just leave the developer console open while you use your code-heavy application if you haven't experienced this.

What is less well known is that System.debug statements have an impact on your transactions even if you aren't capturing debug logs, as I will endeavour to show in the rest of this blog.

Methodology

I have a simple Apex class with a static method that loops 5,000 times, incrementing an index from 0 to 4999. A string that starts out life empty has the index concatenated with it each time through the loop, using the + operator. 

At the start of the method, the current time in milliseconds and the CPU time consumed are captured, and at the end of the method this is repeated and the difference (the elapsed milliseconds and consumed CPU time for the method) are stored in a custom object.

public class LoggingOn 
{
    public static void LoggingOn()
    {
        Limits_Consumed__c lc=new Limits_Consumed__c();
        Long startMillis=System.now().getTime();
        Long startCPU=Limits.getCpuTime();
        
        String message='';
        for (Integer idx=0; idx<5000; idx++)
        {
            message+=idx;
        }
        
        lc.Total_Millis__c=System.now().getTime() - startMillis;
        lc.CPU_Time__c=Limits.getCpuTime() - startCPU;
        insert lc;
    }
}

The Tests

For each test, the method was executed twice:

  1. Via execute anonymous via the developer console, with debug logging enabled and the log level at the default of SFDC_DevConsole.
  2. As the only code in a trigger before update of a record (this was the quickest way I could execute the Apex outside of execute anonymous - the trigger is essentially a carrier for it) with debug logging disabled

1. No Debug Statements

Scenario 1 took 387 milliseconds elapsed time and consumed 154 milliseconds of CPU

Scenario 2 took 44 milliseconds elapsed time and consumed 45 milliseconds of CPU

I then added debug statements and ran the method via the two scenarios.

2. Adding a Debug Statement

This used System.debug to log the message variable each time through the loop:

System.debug('Message = ' + message);

Scenario 1 took 736 milliseconds elapsed time and consumed 285 milliseconds of CPU - you can clearly see the impact of debug statements when logging is enabled here.

Scenario 2 took 49 milliseconds elapsed time and 45 milliseconds of CPU - very little change here.

3. Extending the Debug Statement

The debug statement was extended to include the name of the current user:
System.debug('Message = ' + message + ', User ' + UserInfo.getName());

Scenario 1 took 1281 milliseconds elapsed time and consumed 328 milliseconds of CPU. An interesting aspect here is that after a very short period of time, the message aspect was being truncated and the user's name wasn't appearing, but the work was still being done to retrieve it and build the full debug string each time through the loop.

Scenario 2 took 120 milliseconds elapsed time and 109 milliseconds of CPU - starting to ramp up.

4. Including an sObject

At the start of the method, prior to the starting CPU and elapsed time being captured, an account record with four fields (Id, Name, AccountNumber, CreatedDate) was retrieved from the database. This was added to the debug statement:

System.debug('Message = ' + message + ', User ' + UserInfo.getName() + ', Account = ' + acc);

Scenario 1 took 1504 milliseconds elapsed time and consumed 494 milliseconds of CPU, but again most of the time the account record details weren't written to the log. 

Scenario 2 took 185 milliseconds elapsed time and 180 milliseconds of CPU - around a 50% increase.

5. Splitting Into Multiple Debug Statements

To ensure that the information could be seen in the debug logs, the single statement was split into three:

System.debug('Message = ' + message);
System.debug('User = ' + UserInfo.getName());
System.debug('Account = ' + acc);

Scenario 1 took 1969 milliseconds elapsed time and consumed 656 milliseconds of CPU, and this time all of the pertinent information was recorded each time through. 

Scenario 2 took 198 milliseconds elapsed time and 192 milliseconds of CPU - a small increase.

6. Adding an Array

The query to retrieve the record was extended to include the Id, Subject and Description of its 2 related cases, and an additional statement added to debug this:
System.debug('Message = ' + message);
System.debug('User = ' + UserInfo.getName());
System.debug('Account = ' + acc);
System.debug('Cases = ' + acc.cases);

Scenario 1 took 2563 milliseconds elapsed time and consumed 1136 milliseconds of CPU - closing in on double the CPU, so clearly logging an array has quite an impact. 

Scenario 2 took 368 milliseconds elapsed time and 353 milliseconds of CPU, again close on double.

Reviewing the Numbers

Here are the numbers for the tests in an easy to consume format, with the percentage increase from the previous test shown in brackets.

Test Elapsed 1 CPU 1 Elapsed 2 CPU 2
1 387 154 44 45
2 736 (47%) 285 (46%) 49 (11%) 45 (0%)
3 1281 (60%) 328 (15%) 120 (144%) 109 (142%)
4 1504 (17%) 494 (50%) 185 (54%) 180 (65%)
5 1969 (31%) 656 (33%) 198 (7%) 192 (7%)
6 2563 (30%) 1136 (73%) 368 (86%) 353 (84%)

Looking at the scenario 1 results, we can see that the time increases with the number of debug statements and complexity of datatypes. This makes perfect sense as I'm doing more work to find out granular details about the state as the method proceeds.

Looking at the scenario 2 results, we can see that by not capturing debug logs, the numbers are quite a lot smaller. However, the time is increasing as the number of debug statements and complexity of datatypes increase, even though I'm not using any of the information

By leaving the debug statements, I'm forcing various datatypes to be converted to strings in order to pass them as parameters to the System.debug() method, which will do nothing with them. In the case of test 6, my transaction is over a third of a second longer due to a bunch of work that adds zero value - my users will be pleased!

Delete All the Debugs?

So is the solution to delete all the debug statements before deploying to production? In many cases, yes. Often System.debug() statements are leftovers from problems encountered during development and can be safely deleted. But not in all cases.

If you are trying to track down an intermittent problem, maybe not. It might be useful to have the debug statements in there so that you can quickly enable logging for the user having the problem and see exactly what is happening. The downside to this is the transaction is slowed down for everyone all the time, not just the user encountering the problem when they are encountering it.

A better solution may be to allow the system administrator to control whether the System.debug() statements are executed through configuration. That way they are there if needed, but only executed when there is a problem to be tracked down.

To carry out a fairly blunt test of this, I created a custom metadata type with a checkbox to indicate if debugging is enabled. The custom metadata type is retrieved after the starting elapsed and CPU time have been captured, and is checked before each of the debug statements is executed, to try to simulate a little of the real world. My method now looks as follows:

public class LoggingOn 
{
	public static void LoggingOn()
    {
        Account acc=[select id, name, accountnumber, createddate,
                     (select id, subject, description from Cases)
                      from account where id='0011E00001ogFnaQAE'];
                      
        Limits_Consumed__c lc=new Limits_Consumed__c();
        Long startMillis=System.now().getTime();
        Long startCPU=Limits.getCpuTime();
        
        Debugging__mdt systemDebugging=Debugging__mdt.getInstance('System');
        String message='';
        for (Integer idx=0; idx<5000; idx++)
        {
            message+=idx;
            if (systemDebugging.Enable_Debugging__c)
            {
	            System.debug('Message = ' + message);
            }
            if (systemDebugging.Enable_Debugging__c)
            {
	            System.debug('User ' + UserInfo.getName());
            }
            if (systemDebugging.Enable_Debugging__c)
            {
	            System.debug('Account = ' + acc);
            }
            if (systemDebugging.Enable_Debugging__c)
            {
	            System.debug('Cases = ' + acc.cases);
            }
        }
        
        lc.Total_Millis__c=System.now().getTime() - startMillis;
        lc.CPU_Time__c=Limits.getCpuTime() - startCPU;
        insert lc;
    }
}

Executing the final tests again with the custom metadata type set to disable debug statements showed a significant improvement:

Scenario 1 took 475 milliseconds elapsed time (-78%), and consumed 213 milliseconds of CPU (-81%)

Scenario 2 took 66 milliseconds elapsed time (-82%), and consumed 62 milliseconds of CPU (-82%)

Conclusion

Now I'm not suggesting that everyone starts building configuration frameworks to allow individual debug statements to be toggled on or off for specific users - for any decent sized Salesforce implementation, this would be a huge amount of work and an ongoing maintenance headache. What I am saying is think about the debug statements that you leave in your code when you deploy your code to production. While it might not feel like you need to worry about a few statements that debug record details, once you start to scale the volume it can slow down the user experience. Studies have shown that when an application is slow, the users also perceive it to be buggy regardless of whether that is actually the case - once a user takes against your app, they go all in!


3 comments:

  1. I was thinking about this topic last days. For me easiest solution seems to be calling Utils.debug(). And implement such method in utils class where on/off switch will be checked.
    Perfect solution would be overwriting system method but this is probably not possible.

    ReplyDelete
  2. It's also important to remember that we have other options, too. What to see the state of execution at a specific point in time? Use a Checkpoint. Want to step through the code in a sandbox? Use the Interactive Apex Debugger. Did you get a debug log from the user? Use the Apex Replay Debugger. We have options to get at the data we need without slowing down every single transaction for every single user.

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