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Technology Overview

This section contains a brief and high-level technology overview that describes the Message Analyzer functions that are accessible from the user interface (UI) through its main navigation features, so that you can quickly get started with using them. This section shows how to access these functions and features, and provides a high-level description of their purpose. Familiarizing yourself with the UI features will help you navigate through Message Analyzer and perform tasks such as opening a Browse Session or Trace Session, specifying a data viewer for session results, saving trace data, setting global trace options, quickly retrieving saved message collections, and configuring new Chart-style data viewers with graphic visualizer components.

Accessing Message Analyzer Features and Functions

The Message Analyzer UI contains two primary navigation features that enable you to locate the functionality you need to load, capture, and display data. These navigation features consist of the File and Home tabs. The File tab enables you to display the Message Analyzer Backstage view which contains links to high-level Message Analyzer functions; and the Home tab exposes the analysis surface from where you can work with various data viewers. From the Backstage, you can select the Browse link to open, configure, and start a Browse Session that quickly loads saved trace and log file data, and displays it in a data viewer of choice. You can also select the Capture/Trace link to open, configure, and start a Trace Session that captures live message data and displays it in a data viewer of choice. In addition, a Charts tab is provided from where you can create, edit, save, and manage Chart data viewers. The sections that follow describe the features and functions that are available from the Backstage, Home tab, and Charts tab views.

Backstage View

The Backstage is the entry point into Message Analyzer functionality, since it is the place where you start navigating the UI and using its features. The Backstage has a look and feel that is similar to the File tab display in Microsoft Office products. The Backstage contains the following elements that provide access to various Message Analyzer high-level features and functions:

  • Quick Open — a Backstage item that enables you to quickly open saved trace and log files and to immediately display the data in the Message Analyzer default Analysis Grid viewer on the Home tab.

  • Browse — a Backstage item that enables you to open the Browse Session configuration interface, where you can do the following:

    • Specify a Session name and enter a descriptive Comment.

    • Add one or more saved trace or log files from multiple data sources to the import configuration.

    • Add an optional Selection Filter or Time Filter to the data import process.

    • Select a data viewer and load the data contained in the saved files.


  • Capture/Trace — a Backstage item that enables you to open the Trace Session configuration interface, from where you can do the following:

    • Specify a Session name and enter a descriptive Comment.

    • Select a predefined or custom Trace Scenario.

    • Configure message provider settings, which includes creating Fast Filters.

    • Add one or more system ETW Providers to the Trace Session configuration to enhance the scope of message retrieval.

    • Configure an optional Trace Filter that limits the scope of message retrieval in a trace.

    • Select a data viewer and start capturing data.


  • Save As — a Backstage item that enables you to save data from live traces and imported message collections by launching the Save As dialog. For example, after you analyze and manipulate data from a live Trace Session, or from a Browse Session where you imported a collection of messages from one or more data sources, you can save the results of your analysis in one of the Message Analyzer native file formats, as described in Saving Message Data.

    Note   You can also launch the Save As dialog to save your session data by clicking the Save Trace icon in the upper-left corner of the UI. Alternatively, you can specify the keyboard shortcut Ctrl+S to display the Save As dialog.

  • Close — a Backstage item that enables you to close the currently selected Trace Session viewer tab or Browse Session viewer tab on the Message Analyzer Home tab.

    Note  If you have more than one data viewer in display for a particular Trace Session when you Close a selected Trace Session viewer tab, the data in the selected tab is removed, but the session is not closed until all data viewers for the session are closed. The same is true for any Browse Session.

  • Start Page — a Backstage item that contains the following navigation features:

    • Recent files list — maintains a list of recently saved files, any of which you can quickly open with a single click.

    • Quick Trace — enables you to immediately start a Trace Session with a single click on one of the default Trace Scenarios, such as the Firewall, WebProxy, or a Local Link Layer scenario, to begin capturing data and displaying it in the Analysis Grid viewer.

      Note  To the right of the Quick Trace label, you can click the Configure Capture/Trace icon to display the Trace Session configuration interface, from where you can select a Trace Scenario and set provider and filtering configurations. Clicking this icon produces the same action that occurs when you click Capture/Trace in the Backstage area.

    • News tab — displays announcements and other welcome information.

    • Downloads tab — displays a page that enables you to view, auto-sync updates, and download OPN Packages or user Library items, such as Color Rules, Trace Scenarios, Viewers, Viewpoints, Filters, View Layouts, and Sequence Expressions, from the default Message Analyzer subscriber feed. Features on this page that enable you to exercise these functions consist of the following:

      • Item Types drop-down — enables you to select the types of items to display in your Message Analyzer feed list.

      • Search box — enables you to locate feed list items by entering search text that filters your feed list items.

      • Sync All Displayed Items button — causes automatic update synchronization of all the default Message Analyzer feed list items. Thereafter, your Message Analyzer installation is synchronized with item collection and OPN Parser package updates from a web service, so that you always have the latest versions. However, for this synronization to take place, your Message Analyzer installation must be set to Online status, as described in the next bullet item.

        Note  You have the option to syncronize Message Analyzer feed list items individually or you can elect to download the current configuration of a particular item and stop receiving updates. You can access these features by clicking the status icons to the right of the feed list items that are displayed on the Downloads page.

      • Online/Offline button — when this button is set to Online, you automatically receive updates to Message Analyzer subscriber feed list items that are set to auto-sync status. When this button is set to Offline, you do not receive updates.

    • Guidance tab — enables you to display the Microsoft Message Analyzer Operating Guide landing page, which has an Information Roadmap that is a convenient starting point for navigating the guidance documentation on TechNet.

    • Settings tab — enables you to view a list of feeds to which you are subscribed, create new feeds for sharing item collections directly with other users, and view which item collections and OPN Parser packages are set to the auto-sync state. You can also manage downloads and auto-syncing from this location.


    More Information
    To learn more about using the Recent Files feature, see Using Other Import Features.
    To learn more about the Message Analyzer Sharing Infrastructure, see Sharing Infrastructure.

  • Options — a Backstage item that enables you to specify the size of your Live Message Buffer and the Contiguous Drop Percentage that determines the rate at which packets are dropped when exceeding the buffer limit.

  • About — contains versioning, privacy information, and links to guidance and Online Community sites, which include the following:

  • Exit — enables you to gracefully exit the Message Analyzer application. If you have unsaved trace data when you exit, Message Analyzer prompts you to save it.

Home Tab View

The Message Analyzer Home tab is the primary data analysis surface that is referred to in this documentation at times as the session view, because it provides the interfaces in which you display, manipulate, and analyze Browse Session and Trace Session results. The Home tab contains a Ribbon at the top of the interface that is arranged in sets of commands that group categorically-related Message Analyzer functions, for example, the Session and View Filter groups. The Session Explorer tool window also displays when you select the Home tab, and enables you to navigate among different viewers that display Trace Session data and imported Browse Session data. The Session Explorer tool window also enables you to select additional data viewers for Browse Sessions and Trace Sessions by providing a right-click context menu from where you can select the different viewer types. For example, you could choose the Protocol Dashboard viewer, which is a Chart viewer that displays various graphical top-level summaries of captured message traffic.

The primary data viewer for Browse Session and Trace Session results on the Message Analyzer Home tab is the Analysis Grid, which displays by default unless you specifically select a different data viewer when starting a live Trace Session or when loading data from a Browse Session. The Analysis Grid viewer provides a tree grid type display of trace data where message traffic is grouped by top-level message and operation nodes that you can expand or double-click for further details. When you select a message row for a particular protocol or module in the Analysis Grid viewer, detailed information about the message displays in the Details, Message Data, Field Data, Diagnostics, and Call Stack tool windows, providing that they are open, to facilitate analysis of message fields, values, diagnosis errors, and stack layer data. Since the Analysis Grid viewer is the main interface that you will use to analyze message traffic, this environment is sometimes referred to in this documentation as an Analysis Session. However, an Analysis Session can also encompass other data viewers in separate session tabs, such as the Protocol Dashboard or Sequence Match viewers.

Note   Each Trace Session or Browse Session that you respectively Start With or View With the default Analysis Grid viewer displays on the Home tab as a separate viewer tab. Other data viewers such as the Protocol Dashboard also display in separate viewer tabs.

Charts Tab View

From the Message Analyzer Charts tab, you can create or modify Charts that contain graphic visualizer components for data analysis purposes, which includes bar charts, pie charts, timeline graphs in the x-y coordinate domain, and table grids. Message Analyzer provides two Chart data viewers by default, consisting of the Protocol Dashboard and SMB Reads and Writes viewers. Message Analyzer enables you to create new Charts, or you can modify the default Chart viewers by removing visualizer components and/or adding your own custom components.

The Charts tab provides access to various controls and dialogs that enable you to add new components, remove existing components, and create data mappings for new visualizer components. You can also use the Manage Charts dialog to export Charts, including any that you create, to a remote user file share or other location for sharing with other users. The Manage Charts dialog also enables you to import Charts that others create. In addition, you can share your Charts with others by creating your own custom subscriber feed in the Message Analyzer Sharing Infrastructure, with some current limitations regarding update syncronization on user-configured feeds, as described in Manual Item Update Synchronization.

See Configuring Chart Data Viewers for additional information about Charts.


More Information
To learn more about working with Message Analyzer UI features and functions, see the usage task sections of this documentation:

Importing Message Data
Viewing Message Data
Capturing Message Data
Filtering Message Data
Saving Message Data
Managing Assets and Resources
Automating Tracing Functions

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