The following post is the second in a series about how to manage apps you’ve built after you’ve published them. The first post was an introduction to the series.  This post talks about how to deal with application errors reported to the Marketplace after you have published your app.  The series is written by Atley Hunter, one of the top Windows Phone app developers in the world and Canadian! This series was originally posted on Atley’s blog and is re-syndicated here with his permission. 

As much as we all try, some of our apps crash. The more complex your app, the more libraries it includes, the more toolkits you utilize, the higher the risk of a crash when the user runs your apps.

We have all been guilty of it, I found out recently that I had an app that crashed all the time according to the users, but in my testing, I never did see a crash. This actually speaks of a different problem, testing your own software. If you can, get other people to test your software, preferably a mix of designers, software developers and most importantly, n00bs, neophytes and technophobes Winking smile. The latter group will give you the best bang for your buck because they will do things to/with your software that you would never dream of and, guess what? They are actually your audience!!! You are building this software for them if you are trying to make money with it!

Now, back to the crashes… Horrible things, but they need to be dealt with. Bugs, we gotta squash ‘em. Here’s how to get a pretty accurate account of what is happening to your poor users.

What to Do:

You should regularly check with your App Hub account to see what is going on.
(I am trying to write an app for us all to do, comment if you want this!).

To do this, go to your Dashboard for Windows Phone and look under the App Highlights. Here you will find a report that shows you your Most downloaded and Recent crashes.

Under the list of Recent crashes, you will see a list of any of your apps that have had crashes reported by the users. Click on the number of crashes listed beside.

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This will take you to a screen called crash count (beta) which will show you when the crashes are occurring and allows you to download a file that contains the stack traces of the errors! A note: I usually select a start date way before I released the app to make sure that the report includes all the crashes!

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Once the file has downloaded, you can then examine it for a wealth of information on the details of the crashes that the users have experienced. Everything from the Version of Windows Phone the user was using and the Problem Function:

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To the Exception Type and how often that type of crash has occurred:

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To the meat and potatoes of the Stack Trace (Format with Wrap for best readability Winking smile):

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So, there you have it, you can harvest enough information to make sure that, with some adjustments, you can improve your users’ experiences with your apps and also extend your knowledge of the Windows Phone development framework!!!