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Update: Mobile and Desktop app telemetry experience in Application Insights and HockeyApp

Publicado em 21 julho, 2016

Program Manager, Application Insights

Last month, we announced an updated approach to the transition of mobile and desktop apps from Visual Studio Application Insights to HockeyApp. To recap that announcement: any existing Mobile and Desktop apps will now have a linked HockeyApp app. HockeyApp is Microsoft’s main offering for such apps, enabling great functionality around user metrics, distribution, crash reports, and more. To complement these features, Application Insights will continue to allow you to explore all your data through the Analytics and Continuous Export capabilities. While we encourage you to migrate to the HockeyApp SDKs to take full advantage of all that HockeyApp offers, the transition described in this post will not require any work on your part; the existing Application Insights SDKs will continue to collect all the data they do today until you are ready to adopt the HockeyApp SDKs.

In this blog post, we'll see how Mobile and Desktop apps can start making use of the Analytics feature in Application Insights. Then, for these apps, we will outline the Application Insights/HockeyApp linking experience. Finally, we will provide an update on what the experience for any new Mobile and Desktop apps will be going forward.

Analytics

Let’s dig into Analytics. This feature has previously not been available for Mobile and Desktop apps in Application Insights, but is as of today available for all Application Insights apps! Analytics lets you interact with Application Insights data by allowing you to execute ad-hoc queries. These queries can be as simple as retrieving the last n pieces of data, and as extensive as using our built-in machine learning algorithms to programmatically detect patterns. The results can be visualized in several ways right within the editor, as well as exported to CSV or into a PowerBI dashboard. This means that by asking probing questions, you can quickly investigate root cause for breaks in your app, dig into usage data, understand performance problems, and more!

As a simple practical example, take one of the default parts available today in Application Insights – a table of the most commonly encountered custom events:

clip_image002[11]

To replicate the same in Analytics, we would use the following query:

customEvents 
| summarize count() by name

Which produces the same results in Analytics:

clip_image004[11]

Get started by clicking the Analytics button on the Application Insights blade for your app:
clip_image006[11]

To learn more about Analytics, please see the following resources:

Existing App Walkthrough

Let’s start with an existing Mobile or Desktop app in Application Insights today:

Picture1

We see that Application Insights is prompting us to create a linked HockeyApp app. Let’s click on the bar and go through the process:

Picture2

Pressing the “transfer app” button will complete the linking process.

Picture3

I can click on the alert bar or the HockeyApp tile to open this app in HockeyApp and start using all the great HockeyApp features:

Picture4

Alternatively, I can access my newly-created HockeyApp app using the same credentials I use to log into the Azure Portal:

clip_image010[9]

Note that data is already streaming to HockeyApp, even though my app continues to use the Application Insights SDKs. Once I switch to using the HockeySDKs, the reverse will be true: data will automatically be available for me in Application Insights. Please see the table below for details on data types and their availability.

Do note that the HockeySDKs are our recommendation as they are in active development, allowing you to make use of any new features as they become available. The Application Insights SDKs will continue to be available for the foreseeable future in their current form to allow you to migrate to the HockeySDKs at your own pace. HockeySDKs are available for many platforms today, with active development ongoing to ensure the features you are used to in the Application Insights SDKs will also be available to you in the HockeySDKs. For example, apps running on the UWP platform today have support for custom dimensions in the HockeySDKs; as one of the more used features in Application Insights, this functionality also is currently being implemented for iOS and Android apps in the HockeySDKs and will soon be available. Please see the HockeyApp documentation for details.

After creating the linked HockeyApp app, the data types and their availability in both Application Insights and HockeyApp are as follows:

Data type

Supported by Application Insights SDKs

Supported by HockeySDKs

Traces

Yes for all platforms

Windows platforms only

Custom events with custom dimensions

Yes for all platforms

Yes for all platforms

Page views

Yes for all platforms

Windows platforms only

Dependencies

Windows platform only

Windows platforms only

Metrics

Yes for all platforms

Windows platforms only

Exceptions

Yes, via custom events2

Yes, via custom events2

1 “Windows” refers to UWP, WPF, WinRT, and Silverlight apps

2 The key/value nature of the custom event mechanism will allow you to track exceptions. Please see documentation for details

From July 15th, the Application Insights page for Mobile and Desktop apps looks as follows:

clip_image012[9]

New Mobile and Desktop Apps

So far, we have discussed the experience for any existing Mobile and Desktop apps in Application Insights. Given the power of Analytics and Continuous Export, we would also like to offer the same experience to any new apps being created. To this end, we would like to announce that soon you will be able to create new “HockeyApp bridge” apps in Application Insights. Creating one of these applications will allow you to provide a HockeyApp application key, and have that application’s data be available to the Analytics and Continuous Export features of Application Insights!

We will have more details on this experience available closer to its availability, coming soon.

Next steps

If you are monitoring a Mobile or Desktop app with Application Insights, you'll now also be able to see it in HockeyApp. We recommend:

  • Try Analytics, a powerful tool for ad-hoc querying your data, allowing you to diagnose and for analyze your telemetry and quickly discover root causes and patterns.
  • Upgrade to the HockeyApp SDK for your existing Mobile and Desktop apps to take advantage of all the HockeyApp features.
  • Use HockeyApp to instrument new Mobile and Desktop apps, and coming soon, link them to Application Insights to explore your data through Analytics.

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!