3.5 The Graphical Debugger

SWI-Prolog offers two debuggers. One is the traditional text-console based 4-port Prolog tracer and the other is a window-based source-level debugger. The window-based debugger requires XPCE installed. It operates based on the prolog_trace_interception/4 hook and other low-level functionality described in chapter B.

Window-based tracing provides much better overview due to the eminent relation to your source-code, a clear list of named variables and their bindings as well as a graphical overview of the call and choice-point stack. There are some drawbacks though. Using a textual trace on the console one can scroll back and examine the past, while the graphical debugger just presents a (much better) overview of the current state.

3.5.1 Invoking the window-based debugger

Whether the text-based or window-based debugger is used is controlled using the predicates guitracer/0 and noguitracer/0. Entering debug mode is controlled using the normal predicates for this: trace/0 and spy/1. In addition, PceEmacs prolog mode provides the command Prolog/Break at (Control-c b) to insert a break-point at a specific location in the source-code.

The graphical tracer is particulary useful for debugging threads. The tracer must be loaded from the main thread before it can be used from a background thread.

This predicate installs the above-mentioned hooks that redirect tracing to the window-based environment. No window appears. The debugger window appears as actual tracing is started through trace/0, by hitting a spy-point defined by spy/1 or a break-point defined using PceEmacs command Prolog/Break at (Control-c b).
Disable the hooks installed by guitracer/0, reverting to normal text-console based tracing.
Utility defined as guitracer,trace.
Utility defined as guitracer,debug.
Utility defined as guitracer,spy(Predicate).