Do you log and analyze JavaScript stack traces from your web applications?

14 April 2014 | Articles

Capturing and analyzing client-side JavaScript errors helps developers to identify and to fix specific issues (to a browser, context, or plugin) impacting the user’s experience that wouldn’t otherwise be so apparent. Frameworks such as airbrake.iostacktracejs.comjslogger.comqbaka.com can help development teams dealing with this challenge.

By Marco Roman, Business Development Manager at e-Core

Julio Martins, Team Lead at e-Core, contributed to this article

According to Gartner “improved JavaScript performance will begin to push HTML5 and the browser as a mainstream enterprise application development environment”. As the adoption of browser-accessible (desktop, mobile and tablet) applications evolves and companies continue to put more efforts into developing stable web applications, the need for proper, standardized and reliable error handling mechanisms becomes more critical.

Capturing and analyzing client-side JavaScript errors helps developers to identify and to fix specific issues (to a browser, context, or plugin) impacting the user’s experience that wouldn’t otherwise be so apparent. Frameworks such as airbrake.iostacktracejs.comjslogger.comqbaka.com can help development teams dealing with this challenge.

Innovation day

An exciting event took place recently at e-Core: Innovation Day. As part of e-Core’s leadership development program, team leaders and software engineers took a day off from their regular schedule with the purpose of coming up with innovative and creative ideas and solutions that might add value to our customers. Several interesting projects were presented, from test automation to mobile notification frameworks. As a former web developer, one of them was particularly interesting to me: “Capturing and analyzing client-side JS errors”, a generic implementation using Node.js.

The pilot was developed so the development team could have access to any possible errors that weren’t being reported by users. For example, if we consider an e-Commerce web site with 24/7 availability, a JS error may be stopping some clients, using a specific browser or plug-in, from placing an order. Instead of spending their time notifying the store through the Contact Us form and describing the error, customers might simply choose to buy from the competitor thus causing the store to lose money. This might go on for weeks, affecting hundreds or thousands of customers, until someone finds out about it and fixes it. Using our solution, the development team would receive a notification about the error as soon as it first happened, including information about environment in which the error happened (browser, operational system…) as well as specific details such as the file and the line number in which the error happened. The team can then fix the problem quickly increasing the availability of the system and reducing the response time. This notification feature is our main difference compared to other solutions available in the market, in which developers have go to the tool to know what happened so far instead of being notified about errors.

Moreover, since we will have an internal tool available only for e-Core employees, we can add comments and basically any detail we want as this information will not be available to anyone else as it could be with other online solutions.

Benefits

The main benefits of using JS error capturing/handling are:

  • Error monitoring and fast response to ongoing errors through notifications;
  • Learn from specific errors under specific circumstances (browser, plugins, frameworks, inline error handling, etc.);
  • Gather relevant information for troubleshooting and bug-fixing;
  • Monitor user activity and user experience;
  • Reporting and analytics capabilities;
  • Knowledge base with common errors, possible causes and typical solutions or how-to fix.

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