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What’s Automated Error Reporting and How Does it Work?

, 28 Feb 2011
Learn how error reporting works and how to add it to you software in 3 simple steps. Not only is it easy for you to implement, you’ll also provide your end-users with a one-click solution to report exception/bugs when they occur, incl. the debugging data you need to reproduce the problem and fix it.

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Introduction

Only one thing's worse than finding out your software has bugs: never finding out.

Most users won't bother to report bugs when they find them: it's tricky to remember what caused them and technically challenging to provide the details. So why not let your users give you the whole story in one click, with SmartAssembly’s Automated Error Reporting?

What is Automated Error Reporting?

Automated Error Reporting is a technology that automatically and silently collects and sends information back to you, when your program encounters unhandled exceptions on end-users’ machines.

A typical error report includes a full stack trace and details about the context of the exception (e.g. values of all the local variables), but you can use the mechanism to get any information you want, including log files and screenshots.

Automated Error Reporting is most useful in two circumstances:

  • In the pre-release phase (e.g. beta testing), when you want to get early user feedback in order to ship a stable application.
  • In post-release maintenance, when you want to cut down the time it takes to debug and fix your software, by getting enough information to understand the context of the exceptions recorded.

How does it work?

SmartAssembly/image001.jpg

Figure 1. Iterative development using SmartAssembly.

How long does it take to add error reporting to an application?

No time at all – three simple steps will have you on the way to writing better software:

  1. The application is opened in SmartAssembly. After you select “I want errors reported in my application” and customize the error reporting behavior with a few simple options, SmartAssembly builds a new application file which can be distributed to your users.

    SmartAssembly/image002.jpg

    Figure 2. Simple addition of Automated Error Reporting to an application in SmartAssembly
  2. If users encounter an error while using the application, they are presented with a simple request to submit the error. They don’t have to be technically competent, and the whole process for them takes no more than a few seconds, requiring no telephone or email contact.

    SmartAssembly/image003.png

    Figure 3. The SmartAssembly error reporting dialog box.
  3. Back in SmartAssembly’s “View Error reports” tab, the user’s error report is available to view. As well as a complete stack trace and other general information, you can see any custom-defined properties or open any files you chose to have sent along with the error report. Reports can be categorized and grouped together, allowing prioritization of work based on the importance of the bug. With the entire development team able to share access to the reports, SmartAssembly provides a simple way to dramatically improve team collaboration.

SmartAssembly/image004.png

Figure 4. Viewing the error report in SmartAssembly

Why use SmartAssembly's error reporting mechanism?

  • It's easy for end-users to report errors. They just click "Send error report". No calling or emailing back and forth to get the data you need. It's all there, in the exception report.
  • Configuring and adding error reporting to your application takes seconds, and involves few or no changes to your code.
  • It's easy to see which bugs are the most recurrent or important, so you can prioritize your workload and fix them first.

View the recently recorded webinar on SmartAssembly’s Automated Error Reporting functionality.

Conclusion

Without Automated Error Reporting, you’re effectively blind to user issues. Not a good situation to be in – especially if you want to improve the quality of your software with every release.

Delivering better software to your users has never been easier. With the SmartAssembly, you can obtain valuable customer feedback with little up-front investment. Once you start receiving error reports, you should have all the information you need to fix problems quickly, improve the quality of your product, and make your users happy.

Visit Red Gate’s website to find out more about SmartAssembly.

License

This article, along with any associated source code and files, is licensed under The Code Project Open License (CPOL)

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About the Author

Red Gate Software
Red Gate Software Ltd.
United Kingdom United Kingdom
Red Gate Software makes ingeniously simple tools used by over 650,000 Microsoft technology professionals working with .NET (incl. ASP.NET), SQL Server, Azure, and Oracle. More than 100,000 companies use our products, including 93% of the Fortune 100.

Our philosophy is to design highly usable, reliable tools which elegantly solve the problems that developers and database administrators face every day.
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Comments and Discussions

 
SuggestionAutomated Error Reporting PinmemberMember 1005159414-May-13 4:43 
Installation of reporting tools offer automation for every single Enterprise management aspect. http://www.reportingsoftware.info/reporting-software-features/reporting-software-the-gray-matter-behind-the-concept/[^]
GeneralGood Information on Automated Error Reporting Pinmembereemani1231-Dec-12 12:03 

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