The Maxine Inspector: a Specialized Tool for VM Development

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Michael Van De Vanter, Oracle Sun Labs


The Maxine Inspector is an all-in-one tool highly specialized for developing the Maxine VM: a Java VM written in Java, using meta-circular design techniques, and based entirely on compilation (there is no interpreter). The design of the Inspector addresses some of the unique challenges in developing this kind of VM. It offers visualization of every aspect of the VM's internal state at every level of abstraction (from bits to application objects); it supports process attachment and debugging; and it includes features specifically designed to help diagnose VM failure. The Inspector is also an essential part of the project's commitment to making Maxine the most approachable VM available: for development, experimentation, and learning.