Monitor your apps with Xamarin Insights

DevToolsGuy / Tuesday, March 31, 2015

As a developer you might think that when the code is written, the work is done. This is not true; the real challenge often starts when users begin using your tool. Crash reporting and analytics are a vital component to any app's success. When building mobile applications, implementing this kind of an app insights framework can take a lot of time because of multi-platform code bases and the wide range of devices available. In this post we will take a closer look at Xamarin Insights, a recently released (preview) product from Xamarin.

When it comes to reporting and analytics it is important to know as much as possible. Xamarin know that developers have limited time and have a lot of data to interpret, so they need to know which crash issues to tackle first. Xamarin Insights uses a unique algorithm to rank issues according to user impact and reach, so these developers know how to prioritize their crash task list. It is possible to see the exact users each crash is impacting, and what sequence of actions preceded the crash.

See metrics in real time

One of the most difficult things for a developer is to understand how users are interacting with their app. Xamarin Insights offers real time reports of who's online, what kind of device they are using, what issues they've experienced, where they are from and even which activities they've used in sessions. That’s a lot of data which can help your helpdesk or developers to communicate about bug reports, application crashes, updates or fixes.

These metrics can also be used in a proactive way. Knowing this kind of information can be important to create a technical roadmap for application developers. Imagine an application where some part does not generate an error or crash but takes some time to load - this kind of information will never get to the developers without using Insights. The logged metrics will make this kind of issues clear and can help the development team to create a better app.

Comprehensive error reporting

Next to real time information, developers can also benefit from the extensive and detailed reports available. By adding only a few lines of code - shared across all three major mobile application platforms - you can add Insights into the application. The Insights engine will gather and report any uncaught native or managed exceptions that occur in the application. The delivered reports are fully detailed with at least the following information:

  • Tracking information for the active session
  • Tracking information for the past sessions
  • Device statistics like OS and screen resolution

When more detailed information is needed there is the possibility to report every caught exception. This can be done with one single line of code using the simple Insights API.

With this information, finding bugs is a lot easier because all the information the developer needs is available. Xamarin Insights can even combine event tracking with user identification to visualize some specific details that are needed to solve the issue. At the end you could even send the user an email to let them know the issue is solved.

See what’s working

In addition to crash reporting, Insights enables mobile app developers to easily track any event that occurs in the tool with a single method call. From page views to button clicks, Insights’ event tracking can handle the job. Insights’ tracking is great for seeing which features of your app are being used or neglected. This information can be useful to design the app roadmap.

Integration with different apps

Having this information is one thing, visualizing it is another. With the Insights dashboard all this data is easily browsable so developers have real-time feedback. Insights is integrated with popular services like GitHub, HipChat, Visual Studio, Campfire and others, so you’ll never miss any important notifications.

This integration is a big advantage since mobile platforms depend on many different RAD tools to create applications. Every developer is free to use their preferred environment to create mobile applications, yet can still access the vital information provided by Xamarin Insights.

It is clear that Xamarin Insights adds value to the process of mobile application development. It provides developers with a set of metrics that can be used in a proactive way while giving the support team a comprehensive set of reports where each user session is logged.

At present, Xamarin Insights is available for all active Xamarin subscribers at no additional charge over coming months as a preview. Pricing will be announced at the end of the preview, but according to Xamarin CEO Nat Friedman, a generous plan will be included for Xamarin subscribers at no additional cost.