ugly hack for finding the caller of a method

Imagine the following scenario:

  • you are trying to trace a bug in an old, ugly and improperly constructed legacy application (you know… the application with the 2kloc classes containing 14 nested ifs)
  • access to a debugger is not possible but you can recompile one or more classes and restart the server
  • you need to find who is calling a particular method, but don’t want to insert one thousand print messages in the one thousand places where the method is being called from
  • doing it with AOP gives you a headache

If all the above are true, then maybe the only hope is placing the following line in the beginning of the method in question:

System.out.println("called from: " + 
            new RuntimeException().getStackTrace()[1]);

Yes, this is ugly but it does the job. As the application is running it will print traces such as:

called from: com.spaghetti.backend.LoginAction.execute(
called from: com.spaghetti.backend.LaunchMissilesAction.execute(
called from: com.spaghetti.StringHelper.getTime(
called from: com.spaghetti.TimeUtils.capitaliseString(

Good luck, and don’t forget to remove the print statement before committing. You don’t want the next maintainers to freak out ;)

One Response to “ugly hack for finding the caller of a method”

  1. christos Says:

    watch this hack