Google Releases Leak Finder Tool for Flushing Out Memory Leaks

by Ostatic Staff - Aug. 10, 2012

When Google first introduced its Chrome browser, many skeptics wondered if there was room in the market for another browser, especially an open source browser that would compete closely with Mozilla Firefox. For its part, Google officials said at the time that they didn't consider the browsers of the day to be best-of-breed applications.

Fast-forward to today, of course, and Chrome's market share is about equal to Firefox's. And, the browser has ushered in many innovations that have been copied by other browsers. One of the latest innovations from the Chrome team is a free application called Leak Finder, which finds memory leaks in JavaScript programs. 

How big a problem are memory leaks in web applications? Well, just consider that Mozilla's Firefox browser--and especially add-ons for it--have had extensive problems with memory leaks over the years. Here is a post from a user complaining about this problem:

"I've followed every FAQ, disabled every extension, done everything to stop the memory leaks when using this browser and I'm growing very tired."

It should be noted that the Mozilla community has done yeoman's work to improve this situation in recent versions of Firefox, but web applications of all types are compromised in terms of performance by memory leaks.

According to Google's Leak Finder page:

"In JavaScript you cannot have 'memory leaks' in the traditional sense, but you can have objects which are unintentionally kept alive and which in turn keep alive other objects, e.g., large parts of DOM. Leak Finder for JavaScript works against the Developer tools remote inspecting protocol of Chrome, retrieves heap snapshots, and detects objects which are 'memory leaks' according to a given leak definition."

Web applications use memory, but don't necessarily make the consumed memory immediately available again, especially when leaks are present. The open source team at Google has delivered a post that delves into much more detail on Leak Finder. Developers should especially take note of it, and it's available here

For much more on Google's open source efforts, also check the company's OSPO YouTube channel, which we covered here.