What it does
SPTraceView moniors in real time all SharePoint diagnostic tracing (also called ULS tracing) and can notify you using a balloon-style messages in the tray bar when any information of particular interest to you is sent (traced) by any of the MOSS services and components. For example if you haven’t disposed all SPSite/SPWeb objects properly from your web part, which also will cause unmanaged memory leak, you will see a message similar to the one below as soon as the page that contains your web part is rendered:
Because SPTraceView processes the tracing in real time you can identify errors and events as they happen. That is as soon as you interact with the SharePoint GUI when testing/debugging your custom SharePoint solutions including web parts, event receivers, workflows and all other SharePoint technology components.
SPTraceView is a very light weight software. It is a single 88kb executable file that doesn’t need to be installed and will work simply after you copy it to your machine. It can run in a farm and can provide the trace events from individual servers in the farm to a central location where you can monitor them in real time. It can also save the events of your particular interest in it’s own XML log files which you can review later. It can be also very useful to administrators for determining how healthy their SharePoint farm is.
Where to download it from
Use this direct link to download the 65 Kb zip file. No installation is required. It is a .NET application and will work on both 32 and 64 bit environments.
What information is traced
SharePoint provides diagnostics logging via ULS trace messages. Some (but not all) of the messages are saved by the SharePoint Tracing windows service in log files which reside by default under the 12 hive in the LOGS directory. Note that not everything is saved to those log files by default but everything is available to SPTraceView for real time analysis on the fly. Also most times it is unpractical to save everything as the log files will grow with gigabytes per day. To find out more about how to enable/disable the logging of various diagnostic categories check the SharePoint documentation or have a look for example at this post from the SharePoint Platform Team Blog:
Additionally Microsoft allows your custom applications to trace their own diagnostic information in the SharePoint log files. Your custom trace messages will also be available to SPTraceView. See this MSDN article about how to implement this sort of custom tracing.
More information about how to use SPTraceView and how it works is available on its own page.