We explore the design and implementation of Rover, a post-mortem debugger for XQuery. Rather than being based on the traditional breakpoint model, Rover acknowledges XQuery’s nature as a functional language: the debugger follows a declarative debugging paradigm in which a user is enabled to observe the values of selected XQuery subexpressions. Rover has been designed to hook into Pathfinder, an XQuery compiler that emits relational algebra plans for evaluation on commodity relational database back-ends. The debugger instruments the subject query with
fn:trace() calls which, at query runtime, populate database tables with relational representations of XQuery item sequences. Thanks to Pathfinder’s loop-lifting compilation strategy, a Rover trace (1) may span multiple XQuery for iteration scopes and (2) allows for interactive debugging sessions that can arbitrarily replay iterations in a unique forward/backward fashion. Since the query runtime as well as the debugger
are database-supported, Rover is scalable and supports the observation of very data-intensive XQuery expressions.