Inspect discovery and hosting

Inspect is a powerful diagnostics feature for Fuchsia Components.

This document describes the details about how components host their Inspect data and how various tools discover that data.

Hosting Inspect data

A component may expose Inspect data in the following ways:

Components do not need to reach out to other services in order to expose Inspect data.

Components generally do not need to be concerned with which method is being used, client libraries abstract out the specific mechanism for hosting. Nearly all implementations will eventually use Tree.

Feature fuchsia.inspect.Tree VmoFile fuchsia.inspect.deprecated.Inspect Description
Non-lazy values Yes Yes Yes Components may record values such as strings and integers.
Lazy values Yes No Yes Components may generate values dynamically at read time.
Mutable tree Yes Yes Yes Components may modify the values stored in their output.
Post-mortem inspection Yes Yes No The values recorded by a component are available after that component exits.
Low-latency snapshots Yes Yes No A full snapshot of the data can be obtained with low-latency.
Consistent snapshots Yes* Yes No The snapshot of the tree is guaranteed to represent its state at one point in time.

(*: Each tree's snapshot is consistent, but inter-tree consistency is not guaranteed)


fuchsia.inspect.Tree supports all features of the Inspect API, and it is the recommended way to expose Inspect data from components.

Components host a single service file named fuchsia.inspect.Tree under a subdirectory called "diagnostics". Multiple such files may exist, but they must be in separate subdirectories under "diagnostics".


The fuchsia.inspect.Tree FIDL File defines the protocol that is hosted by components to expose their Inspect data.

The Tree protocol links together multiple Inspect VMOs in a "tree of trees."

Figure: Example of trees

In the above figure, the tree named "root" handles protocol fuchsia.inspect.Tree for connections on the top-level service hosted under diagnostics/fuchsia.inspect.Tree. Child trees may be enumerated and opened using methods on the protocol. For example, "child B" may not exist in memory until opened and read.

The protocol supports this behavior in the following ways:

  • GetContent

    This method obtains the content of the tree, currently in the form of an Inspect VMO. By convention, calling this method on the root tree should return a VMO that will be continually updated with new data. The client should not need to re-read the content of the tree to read new values.

  • ListChildNames

    This method accepts an iterator over which the names of children of the tree will be returned. For example, the tree in the figure above will return names "child A" and "child B" when run on the root tree.

  • OpenChild

    This method accepts a request for fuchsia.inspect.Tree that will be bound to the tree specified by a given name. Using this method a client may iterate through all trees exposed over the root iterface.


Components may expose any number of [Inspect VMOs][inspect-vmo] in their out/diagnostics directory ending in the file extension .inspect. By convention, components expose their "root" inspect tree at diagnostics/root.inspect.

Components may choose to generate the content of the VMO when the file is opened if they choose, however, there exists no mechanism to link multiple trees created this way together. For this reason, lazy values are not supported in the context of a single tree, either the entire tree is generated dynamically or none of it is.


This deprecated interface is used by Go to expose Inspect data. While fuchsia.inspect.Tree exposes a "tree of trees," this interface exposes only a single tree where subtrees may be dynamically instantiated.

This interface is deprecated in favor of the VMO format hosted by Inspect tree for the following reasons:

  • VMO format supports low-latency snapshots without communicating with the hosting program.
  • VMO format snapshots are always consistent for the whole tree.
  • VMO format supports postmortem inspection, all Inspect data using the deprecated interface dies with the component.
  • Tree protocol supports the same dynamic features as the deprecated interface.

Reading Inspect data

The two primary ways to read Inspect data are:

  1. iquery
  2. The Archivist


iquery (Inspect Query) is the CLI for interacting with Inspect data.

iquery's primary mode of operation takes a list of locations for Inspect data and prints out the contains information. A location consists either of the path to a .inspect file, or the path to a directory containing fuchsia.inspect.Tree.

iquery's secondary mode of operation (triggered by --find) recursively identifies locations for Inspect data from the given directorry path. The two modes may be used together as follows:

iquery --recursive `iquery --find /hub | grep -v system_objects | grep component_name`

In the example above, iquery is run to find a list of Inspect locations that do not contain "system_objects" and that do contain "component_name". Then, iquery is run on the result of the first filter to recursively list data in the matching locations. Internally, this is how the fx iquery tool is implemented. You may instead write:

fx iquery component_name


The Fuchsia Diagnostics Platform, hosted by the Archivist, is responsible for monitoring and aggregating Inspect data on demand.

Collection under appmgr

When a component is running under appmgr, diagnostics data is collected from its out/diagnostics directory. A connection to this directory is provided to Archivist by the ComponentEventProvider protocol.

A separate component, called observer.cmx, serves the same purpose as the Archivist but may be injected into tests. Observer allows tests to find only their own diagnostics data, helping to make tests hermitic.

Collection under component_manager

When running under component manager, diagnostics data will be made available to the Archivist through a new event system. This mechanism is still a work in progress.

TODO(47865): Update details when done.

Reading Inspect from the Archivist

The Archivist (and observer) host fuchsia.diagnostics.Archive, which provides the ReadInspect method to obtain Inspect data from running components.