Displaying text from a (log) file at a specific offset

When analysing product behaviour here at AppSense we often run SysInternals Process Monitor (procmon) to understand what is going on behind the scenes. In the procmon trace, we will see our log files being written to but all that is shown in the trace is the offset into the file that the data is written to and how much is written which, on the whole, is not that useful. What we sometimes need to know is exactly what text is written to the log file at this point as it will help us to correlate what procmon tells us with what our product’s log file tells us.

In order to be able to perform the correlation, I wrote a utility, called FindFileEntry.exe, which takes an offset (-o), a length (-l) and text log file name (-f) and will output the line number of the file and the text (up to “length” characters) . It will work with both Unicode and ANSI/ASCII text files.

For instance, if we consider the following, somewhat contrived, snippet of a procmon trace:

procmon of log file

We can see that the AppSense Application Manager Agent process (AMAgent.exe) has written 88 bytes to the log file “C:\Temp\amlogs\demo\Application Manager_AGENT_06_11_2013_21_52_28.log” at an offset of 22,252,941 bytes. We therefore run the following options with the FindFileEntry utility:

c:\>FindFileEntry.exe -f "c:\temp\amlogs\demo\Application Manager_AGENT_06_11_2013_21_52_28.log" 
-o 22252941 -l 88

And it outputs the following where the number immediately before the first colon character is the line number within the file

206504:     T031268 693093390 21:54:21.502 [AMPipeServer::Run] Event signalled. waitValue = 22

Given that we now have the line number as well as the text written, we can open the log file in a text editor such as Notepad++ so that we can see what other lines of (useful) debugging information were written around that same period.

notepad++ showing log line

The utility will work for any text log file, not just AppSense’s, and can be downloaded from here. Please refer to the README within the download for more details.

PS. Wouldn’t it be nice if procmon had some kind of customisable capability to allow an event to be right clicked on, or similar, and an arbitrary program be selected to run, with parameters such as parts of the procmon trace line, e.g. to launch the FindFileEntry program seamlessly?


Author: guyrleech

I wrote my first (Basic) program in 1980, was a Unix developer after graduation from Manchester University and then became a consultant, initially with Citrix WinFrame, in 1995 and later into Terminal Server/Services and more recently virtualisation, being awarded the VMware vExpert status in 2009 and 2010. I have also had various stints in Technical Pre-Sales, Support and R&D. I work as a Senior Technical Consultant for HCL, live in West Yorkshire, England; have a wife, three children and three dogs and am a keen competitive runner when not injured.

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