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This article discusses approaches to implementing object-independent event trace monitoring and analysis systems. The term object-independent means that the system can be used for the analysis of arbitrary (non-sequential) computer systems, operating systems, programming languages and applications. Three main topics are addressed: object-independent monitoring, standardization of event trace formats and access interfaces and the application-independent but problem-oriented implementation of analysis and visualization tools. Based on these approaches, the distributed hardware monitor system ZM4 and the SIMPLE event trace analysis environment were implemented, and have been used in many 'real-world' applications throughout the last three years. An overview of the projects in which the ZM4/SIMPLE tools were used is given in the last section.