By Nick Harley
One of the biggest distractions to any software team building web and mobile applications is the act of fixing up problems in previously written code.
I’m willing to bet that your personal performance is measured on how much you build, innovative and deploy rather than how much error free code you release or how much technical debt you manage to scoop up on your way. So it always seems like a huge hassle or distraction to be having to go back and fix up bugs.
Trying to diagnose and fix those problems is terribly inefficient too.
Digging through log files, matching time and date stamps and asking non technical users over support tickets what happened and when cause a lot of frustration.
But it doesn’t have to be that way. Here we’ll talk about how effective error monitoring in production means you’ll no longer have to rely on users to report issues and can build higher quality code at the same time.
A few lines of code is all it takes
Using a error monitoring tool like Raygun, we’re be able to get detailed diagnostics for each individual error occurrence and pinpoint the exact line of code causing the problem in seconds.
No more complex debugging or log files to sifter through trying to find the root cause of an issue.
Logging errors vs error monitoring tools
A lot of developers confuse error monitoring tools with traditional logging. And it’s easy to make the relation without understanding the two in more detail.
Dedicated logging tools give you a running history of events that have happened in your application. Dedicated error monitoring tools focus on the issues users face that occur when your app is in production, and record the diagnostic details surrounding the problem that happened to the user, so you can fix it with greater speed and accuracy.
Most error logging activities within software teams remain just that. A log of errors that are never actioned and fixed.
Traditionally speaking, when a user reports an issue, you might find yourself hunting around in log files searching for what happened so you can debug it successfully. Having an error monitoring tool running silently in production means not only do users not need to report issues, as they are identified automatically, but each one is displayed in a dashboard, ranked by severity. Teams are able to get down to the root cause of an issue in seconds, not hours.
Full diagnostic details about the issue are presented to the developer immediately. Information such as OS, browser, machine, a detailed stack trace, a history of events leading up to the issue and even which individual users have encountered the specific issue are all made available.
In short, when trying to solve issues in your applications, you immediately see the needle, without bothering with the haystack.
Error monitoring tools are designed to give you answers quickly. Once you experience how they fit into the software development workflow and work alongside your logging, you won’t want to manage your application errors in any other way.
How easy is it to get started?
The short answer, very.
Most tools work by deploying a small, lightweight script into your production app so that live users are interacting with your application and that’s it!
Errors will start to flow automatically into your dashboard (yes you will have errors – I guarantee that) where you can prioritize which issues to fix first based on the number of users impacted or frequency of the issue.
The Raygun dashboard. Errors are grouped by root cause
There’s so much more!
These sorts of tools are increasing in popularity for software teams due to the transparency they bring around detecting and then resolving software problems that users are experiencing. If you haven’t done so already, why not give them a go.
For developers we are sometimes too far removed from the end user experience to really understand how our code is being received. Error monitoring tools give you a window into how users are really experiencing the software you built.
Championing the push to improve user experiences and make sure quality code is going out the door to customers in your company is a sure fire way to impress your boss and fellow team members.
The next time you are struggling to reproduce issues in your applications, you’ll be glad you have a solution like Raygun in your toolbox.
Don’t just log errors – Use an error monitoring tool and fix them!