Application Monitoring And Error Tracking

Tracking

What is application error Monitoring?

No piece of software will ever reach a state of perfection, especially in today’s world of complex products and multi-layered technologies. To get a simple web application up and running, a development team must rely on integration between cloud virtual machines, database instances, and networking equipment. If any piece of that communication chain falters, or if an end user performs an unexpected or unsupported action on their end, the application will experience an error.

Error handling is a key principle of programming, regardless of what language or platform your development team uses. Every piece of code should account for all possible outcomes and provide logic for how to mitigate issues that may appear. But robust error handling will not be able to fix all problems in an application or system, and that’s where error monitoring becomes a critical part of your development workflow.

Basics of Error Monitoring

The concept of error monitoring is to make development and support teams aware of any unexpected issues that occur on an application once it is live in a stage or production system. Most modern programming languages institute a logging system that will write messages to a text file or a database each time an action is requested and completed. These logs contain valuable information about application performance and user-facing issues, but they can also be challenging to wade through and read. Dynamic error monitoring solutions provide a method of automatically collecting all relevant details about an issue and displaying it in a single package.

Once an error monitoring system has detected a problem and launched the correct alerts, it’s time for the development and quality teams to dig into the details and look for a root cause. Errors and bugs should be assigned to an individual, who is responsible for managing the investigation and identifying workarounds or fixes. Error monitoring tools can also help teams spot negative trends in an application’s performance and launch improvement efforts before end users are affected.

What Is Error Monitoring?

Types of application error monitoring-

Generally, there are two types of error monitoring: Back end monitoring and Front end monitoring.

  • Back end monitoring

Back end monitoring is also known as data center monitoring application performance monitoring, infrastructure monitoring, or software monitoring. It lets the user know about the errors or bugs and issues coming up in the infrastructure like the databases, HTTP servers, API services, and many more. The problems that are detected and can be resolved by back end monitoring includes-

  • The problems occurring due to issues in the system in the operation mode.
  • Issues related to system security.
  • Failures in the working of the CPU
  • System hardware issues like failure of the disk and other related problems.
  • Problems faced while upgrading or enhancing the software
  • Errors and bugs while coding.
  • Front end monitoring

This is the other type of error monitoring known as the front end monitoring. It is viewed from the perspective of a user. It means that it shows the view of the particular application or software as it would look like from the eyes of the users. It shows and detects all the final bugs, errors, disputes, and mistakes so that the final overall check is done. This ensures that the particular data, software, or application looks good when used by the users. According to the error category, the issue can be detected by several methods and tools in front end monitoring.

The two main ways are :

  1. Synthetic Monitoring
  2. Real User Monitoring (RUM)

The problems that are detected and resolved by front end monitoring includes :

  • Issues related to Web page content, structure and data
  • Contents related to the third parties
  • If any reduction is found in the working or effectiveness of the application or websites.
  • Any problems occurring due to browser misconduct

WHAT IS APPLICATION ERROR TRACKING?

Error Tracking – Top Suggestions and Tools – KeyCDN

What is application error tracking?

Ideally, you want to identify bugs in your web application before users encounter them. First impressions are everything, and being greeted with an error message is a surefire way to scare off new visitors. Even worse, those users probably won’t take the time to tell you that your app crashed on them. Worse still, they could start spreading the word on Twitter. Error tracking is the process of proactively identifying issues and fixing them as quickly as possible.

Error monitoring can get increasingly complicated as you deal with bugs reported by users and your production team, which is why having an efficient error tracking workflow from the beginning is so important.

How is error tracking useful?

As with any situation in life, it’s easier to address small problems as soon as possible so that they don’t become bigger problems. Thus, implementing error tracking from the very beginning of the development cycle will save your team a lot of time and headaches.

TYPES OF ERROR TRACKING?

Error Tracking – Top Suggestions and Tools – KeyCDN

Backend error tracking

Backend, or server side, errors include things like page exceptions and JavaScript errors. Not all backend errors affect the user experience, but keeping track of them can prove helpful when tuning your app. The Google Dev tools console can give you real-time feedback to help you trace the source of errors, and you can set handlers to automate exception data collection.Source:

Keep in mind that not all code errors are noticeable to users. No matter which tools you use to track exceptions, the most challenging part of error monitoring is filtering out all the “noise” so that you can focus on the real problems. That’s why human testers will always be necessary.

Frontend error tracking

Older error monitoring tools were primarily focused on backend errors. Backend error tracking is relatively straightforward since all server side code runs in the same place. Monitoring errors on the frontend requires a bit more work because front end performance is highly dependant on the user’s hardware, software and connection. You need to make sure that your website or app runs smoothly in over a dozen web browsers and hundreds of different devices, which is no easy feat.

Frontend errors include UI glitches, slow performance and broken interfaces. In addition to collecting data, you must understand exactly how errors impact the user experience. That’s where reproducing bugs comes in.

Why Tracking and Monitoring All Exceptions is Important – Stackify Why Tracking and Monitoring All Exceptions is Important

ADVANTAGES OF APPLICATION MONITORING AND TRACKING TOOLS

Access to failure data

Lots of monitoring tools exist to help you identify and troubleshoot issues across all application layers. However, most of these tools are designed to show you the overall system state. Only logs, and exceptions in particular, offer insight into a finer level of detail.

By definition, an exception is an event which occurs during the execution of a program that disrupts the normal flow of the program’s instructions.

Exceptions are used to indicate many different types of error conditions across all the application layers: out of memory, stack overflow, IO problems, null pointer exceptions, network timeouts, and many others. They could indicate system problems, problems in application logic, operating system problems, connectivity problems, and so on.

When an exception occurs within a method, the method creates an object and hands it off to the runtime system. The exception object contains information about the error, including its type and the state of the program when the error occurred. Therefore, exceptions— handled or not—provide access to very useful raw data that can be used for:

  • Early error detection and prevention
  • Root cause analysis when problems occur
  • Reconstructing events after a problem occurred
  • Identifying security problems
  • Forensic evidence

Early problem detection

Many production problems build up gradually. Monitoring tools can often provide an indication that something is awry by monitoring metrics such as CPU load, RAM and storage access and network activity and connectivity, but that information alone can generally not be used to pinpoint the source of a problem. As a result, you run the risk of waiting until a problem becomes critical before you begin looking for the source.

Exception monitoring offers another better way of gaining early insight into production problems. By monitoring exceptions, you can trace a performance issue to its root case, thereby gaining the time and means to spot the problem before it reaches a tipping point and impacts your users or company.

Impact on application performance

Quite often, an app throws a lot of exceptions that might be harmless in terms of application functionality. Sometimes they are even referred to as “good” exceptions.

However, exception throwing requires stack trace propagation, which basically means that your app pauses to walk back the stack to collect information which will be used to create the stack trace. While this timeout in thread execution is insignificant as a singular event, it can create huge performance overhead on a large scale.

Therefore, “good” exceptions can have a major impact on an application’s performance, and shouldn’t be left unattended.

Exception Tracking  and security

Also worth noting is how important exception monitoring is from a security perspective. Following are a couple of reasons why.

Hackers can use information exposed by error messages

Application failure often results in throwing an exception. Detailed error messages can provide attackers with useful information such as stack traces, privacy information, and sometimes even passwords, which can lead to security vulnerabilities such as enumeration, buffer attacks, sensitive information disclosure, etc. Even HTTP 404 can expose your server to attacks. While good code is supposed to not allow exceptions to go unhandled, in practice, it’s nearly impossible to anticipate all the cases when an exception could be thrown, and control its content. Furthermore, with all honesty, error handling is rarely robust enough to survive a penetration test. Therefore, actively monitoring your logs for this kind of exposure and taking action to fix it immediately can prevent hacker attacks and drastically improve your system’s security.

Identifying hacker attacks  

In spite of all your efforts, if your system has been hacked, logs are often the only record that suspicious behavior is taking place, even if the system still works fine and all the monitoring tools show no problems.  For this reason, monitoring exceptions may be your best shot at identifying when your system is being hacked.

The specifics of identifying such suspicious behavior depend on your application’s functionality, but generally you should be looking for any sign of abnormalities in your log files: new error messages and exceptions that could indicate elevation of access privileges, bulk downloads, privacy violations, etc.

Logs are also useful in reconstructing events after a problem has occurred, and as forensic evidence. Event reconstruction can allow a security administrator to determine the full extent of an intruder’s activities and expedite the recovery process.

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