So you have a trace file, or a set of trace files, you need to analyze. Well, we all know the saying from carpentry, “use the right tool for the job,” and it’s true. There is not one tool that is best for all people, and all situations, and all types of applications. This is certainly true for protocol analysis, just as much as it is for carpentry. Which tool you use depends on many factors, like who in the organization is using it and what type of analysis you need to do. For example, do you need to look at the actual packets? If so, then OmniPeek is your best choice. Do you need to capture at very high data rates? In that case, a Timeline Network Recorder should be considered. However, if you already have a large library of trace files, or have acquired a set of trace files that you need to look through, then Compass may be the right tool for the job.
Why? Because, in most protocol analyzers, navigating and looking through different trace files is not very easy. You have to open each trace file individually. If you don’t know exactly where you need to look this can be extremely time consuming and a bit frustrating. Also, opening each individual trace file can take a while. One reason is that most analyzers create a new window for each opened trace file. Because these windows are complex, with lots of child windows, it takes time to construct them. Also, you never know where the new window is going to show up, so there is a level of unpredictability about the layout. You know how it goes, you select a file, and then wait to see where it is going to show up. Once the window shows up, you then have to navigate to the view you are interested in, and perform some analysis. If the analysis requires that you look at more than one view, then you are either going back and forth between all of those views or you are undocking them in order to view at the same time. And finally, if you keep opening new files, they are going to start cluttering up the screen.
In Compass Live, a new and innovative product offering from WildPackets, the workflow required to navigate through large numbers of files is fast and easy. The key advantage of Compass Live is the dashboard style UI. Instead of creating a new capture for each trace file, there is a single dashboard, or “pane of glass,” that is used to display all opened files as if they were a single file. This makes it extremely easy to view large spans of data in a single view, eliminating the need of opening and scanning through multiple individual data files.