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Exploring HockeyApp data in Application Insights: introducing the Bridge App

Posted on 30 august, 2016

Program Manager, Application Insights

In a previous blog, we announced that soon, the data from any app in HockeyApp would be accessible through the Analytics, and Continuous Export features in Application Insights. This functionality is now available to you through the new HockeyApp Bridge App! With it, you will now be able to query raw HockeyApp data and gain insights from it, as well as export it to your own data store for warehousing purposes. In this blog post, we’ll see how to take advantage of this new feature as well as answer common questions about how to instrument your applications going forward.

The HockeyApp Bridge App

HockeyApp is a great tool for instrumenting your mobile and desktop applications. It has powerful facilities for tracking distribution, adoption, crash reporting, feedback, and other data. It also has a collection of dashboards through which this data can be explored. Sometimes, however, you need to access, analyze, and visualize your data in ways other than are presently exposed in HockeyApp. This is where the new HockeyApp Bridge application type in Application Insights comes in! Your HockeyApp data will be available to you in its raw form to query and analyze using Analytics and export to your own data store via Continuous Export!

Creating a HockeyApp Bridge App in Application Insights

The HockeyApp Bridge App is the core feature that will enable you to access your HockeyApp data in Application Insights through the Analytics and Continuous Export features. Data collected by HockeyApp after the creation of the HockeyApp Bridge App will be accessible from the aforementioned features. All you need to set up a Bridge App is to create a new Application Insights resource with the “HockeyApp Bridge Application” app type. You will need to provide an API key that you can obtain from your HockeyApp settings, and soon after creating it, the Analytics and Continuous Export features will be accessible to you against your HockeyApp data.

Please see our documentation for a detailed walkthrough of setting up a HockeyApp Bridge App, as well as to learn more about the various ways to access your data.

Using the HockeyApp Bridge App

Let’s look at a simple practical example of using the HockeyApp Bridge App. In this case, we’ll be looking at telemetry generated by an iOS app that was created for the Xamarin Evolve 2016 conference (App Store link). This app was instrumented using the iOS HockeySDKs.

First, let’s create a HockeyApp Bridge App per the instructions above:

The HockeyApp-instrumented Xamarin Evolve iOS app connected to Application Insights via a Bridge app

Now, let’s press the Analytics button to open a new Application Insights Analytics window. Once loaded, let’s open a new tab, type in the following query, and press “go”:

customEvents 
| summarize country_Count = count() by client_CountryOrRegion
| order by country_Count 
| render piechart 

And just like that, we now have a pie chart of the country of origin of our users!

Querying a HockeyApp app data with Application Insights Analytics and the HockeyApp Bridge AppThis is a very simple scenario, but building on it with the extensive querying capabilities in Analytics, you can begin to really investigate and gain insights about your HockeyApp applications. In parallel, you can configure Continuous Export to store this data in your warehouse, to later join with other data sources. All of these possibilities and more are now possible with the new HockeyApp Bridge App in Application Insights!

FAQs

Over the last several blog posts around instrumenting mobile and desktop apps, we’ve received some common questions:

Can you summarize how to instrument my applications going forward?

Please refer to the simple flowchart below to determine how to instrument your applications and access your data going forward (click for a large version):

Mobile and Desktop telemetry flowchart

Should I use Application Insights or HockeyApp to instrument my mobile and desktop applications?

You should use HockeyApp to instrument mobile and desktop applications going forward. HockeyApp provides great capabilities for these types of apps including distribution, adoption, crash reporting, and feedback tracking.

What if I need more information than the dashboards in HockeyApp provide?

Should you need to access or analyze the raw data from HockeyApp beyond the pre-made dashboards available there, you should create a HockeyApp Bridge App as described in this blog post. You can then further interact with your data through the Analytics and Continuous Export features in Application Insights.

What SDKs should I use for my mobile and desktop applications?

While the Application Insights SDKs for mobile and desktop applications will continue working for the foreseeable future, you should use the HockeyApp SDKs going forward. More details about this are available in our previous blog post.

How do I track handled exceptions in my mobile and desktop applications?

Tracking of handled exceptions is not natively available for mobile and desktop apps. It is however easy to implement via the Custom Event mechanism. To do this, a helper method can be created as described in the HockeyApp KB repository.

Next steps

Instrumenting your mobile or desktop application is easy – use HockeyApp and the HockeySDKs, and create a HockeyApp Bridge App in Application Insights if you need to analyze or access your raw data. Continue using Application Insights and the Application Insights SDKs for all other application types.

As always, please share your ideas for new or improved features on the Application Insights UserVoice page, and for any questions visit the Application Insights Forum or HockeyApp Support!