Debug File Formats

Learn about platform-specific file formats and the debug information they contain.

Sentry differentiates four kinds of debug information:

  • Debug Information: Provides function names, paths to source files, line numbers, and inline frames. The process of resolving this information from instruction addresses is called "symbolication". This information is relatively large compared to the executable and usually put into a separate file. In Sentry, these files are designated as debug companions and show the debug tag.

  • Symbol Tables: If debug information is not available for a certain library, Sentry can use symbol tables as a fallback to retrieve function names. Symbol tables are usually included in both the executable and debug companion files. However, they do not contain sufficient information to resolve inline functions or file names and line numbers. The symtab tag indicates symbol tables.

  • Source Code: Conventionally, source code is not part of regular debug information files. Sentry CLI can bundle source code of your application and upload it to display source context in stack traces in Sentry. These bundles show up with the sources tag.

  • Unwind Information: Enables Sentry to extract stack traces from Minidumps and other binary crash formats of optimized builds. This process is referred to as "stack unwinding" or "stack walking". Since this is also required when throwing exceptions in C++, this information is often included in the executable or library. If an uploaded file contains this information, it shows the unwind tag. Note that on some platforms no actual unwinding takes place. For instance, WebAssembly currently does not have the equivalent of minidumps which means we do not require that type of information in such cases.

Compilers place the above debug information in different files passed on the target platform, architecture, build flags or optimization level. Consequently, Sentry might not need all of the above information to process crash reports. Still, it is always a good idea to provide all available debug information.

sentry-cli can be used to list properties of supported debug files and validate their contents. See Debug Information Files in sentry-cli for more information.

For WebAssembly, we support DWARF in WASM containers. Note that we do not support source maps, which are also a format used for WASM debugging, but have shortcomings that make them impractical for a crash reporting tool like Sentry.

Since WASM does not specify debug/build IDs yet, we provide a separate tool to add build IDs and split files called wasm-split to help you create a debug companion file ready for uploading to Sentry while removing all debug information from the release binary.

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