What to Look For in a Great Error Tracking Service

Nick HarleyGeneralLeave a Comment

Needle in a Haystack

The sheer amount of DevOps tools on the market these days often leads to confusion for some about which tools they should actually use. Some have more benefits than others, and many developers seem to adopt favourites that they tend to always go back to – The tools they know aid in their software development. Here we’ll look into why a great error tracking service like Raygun is worth its weight in gold!

Creating a workflow around errors

Traditionally speaking, back when error tracking tools were not so advanced, many developers tended to set up email alerts. Basically, when a new error occurred a script would send the un-handled exceptions to the developer’s inbox. That’s fine if you have only a small application that generates minimal errors, but once you start adding on various bits and pieces, notifications become noisy and you start to take a passive interest in the errors that come in. Suddenly you’ve missed an important error, hidden amongst a bunch of errors you really didn’t care about.

error tracking software

Tools these days are smarter and group errors together that are seen as similar. This not only cuts down on notification noise, but also allows better prioritization of error severity. Raygun also has a smart workflow system, allowing you to mark specific error groups as Active, Resolved, Ignored or Permanently Ignored. Your team can also link errors with other tools like Issue Trackers, Team Chat and Project Management tools, it’s all aimed at creating a workflow for software developers to be more productive and fix errors quickly, before they cause you bigger problems.

Full, Usable Stacktraces

Being alerted of an error is one thing, but how do you know where to look for a solution. Gone are the days of having to ask users for screenshots, environment information and trying to replicate the issue. A tool like Raygun can give you all of this information at a glance, including the stack trace. This gives you enough information to find the problem, right down to the line of code the error occurred on! What a time saver!

Not all programming languages generate usable stack traces (I’m looking at you Objective-C. You too minified JavaScript!). That’s when post-processing comes in helpful. A tool like Raygun can automatically take those stack traces and transform them into a structure that make them far more actionable by your development team. Further to this, for some languages like Python, Raygun can even tell you local variable values at the time of a crash! Gone are the times of wondering how an error could even occur.

Works everywhere

Some services focus on a specific language, and they’re very good at tracking errors on that particular technology or framework. An advantage with Raygun is it works across 24+ programming languages and platforms. Want to track errors across your Node.js backend as well as your iOS or Android app? No problem! Each provider allows for custom error grouping logic and features, giving you a full technology stack solution. You can even track all of your applications in one view.

Smart Notifications

Want to be notified of errors in your own time zone? Want to be notified in a daily digest at a specific time of day? Want to have error notifications pop up in your team chat provider like HipChat or Slack? Want to be notified of specific applications in specific ways? It’s all possible, you just need to have a service that supports it all. Raygun offers all this with unlimited team members, and what’s more, all of them can have individual settings for email notifications.

Filters

As we said earlier, getting to the problem as quickly as possible in order to fix it is very important. Filters allow you to search upon specific criteria, whether it be Hostname, version, date, time or many more. Applying filters gives you error groups that match the requirements you need to look into. This ensures that finding errors is no longer a case of finding a needle in a haystack, as you can drill in and find the issue you are looking for in record time.

Needle in a Haystack

If a user has reported an issue and can tell you the time it happened or any other nugget of information, you’ll be able to find the exact error instance in Raygun that affected that user! It’s so easy!

Saving Money

If you don’t think that paying for an error tracking service is worthwhile, step back and look how much time it can save you. Software developers that tend to not want to spend money on a service, often lose out with the time they spend maintaining their own solutions, managing extra servers that they host themselves for error tracking, or generally lose time fixing bugs that a good error reporting service may have identified and pointed them to in a lot faster time period. Remember that every time you are fixing software errors – that time is taking you away from building new features. How much is that costing you?

I hope you found this useful in answering why a good error tracking service is a good investment and how it can aid your software development.

Want to give Raygun a try? Try Raygun free for 14 days here. 

We would absolutely recommend Raygun to any business which relies on healthy software to serve there customers. Andrew Schofield, Chief technology officer at Timely. Take a free 14 day trial. Request a short demo of Raygun.

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