Sunday 8 January 2012

A Host of New Features

Just rolled out a new build - the first build of the new year!

Improved duplicate detection

Some time ago I had rolled out the "Mark as Duplicate" feature, which inspected your errors and automatically tried to find if they are duplicates of each other. Today that algorithm underwent a significant improvement, and now does a much better job of finding duplicates. This has been applied to all the existing errors as well, bringing down error count by a massive 93%!

What this means for you is that the number of errors you need to worry about has come down significantly. Like I say, fewer bugs = happy developer. :)

"Mark as Duplicate" no more!

Even though the Mark as Duplicate feature was nice and was very helpful in bringing down bug count, it always felt very clunky and legacy-like. The idea of different bugs reports for the same bug, and links flying between them just felt wrong. It doesn't help productivity if you spend a lot of time just navigating the bug reporting system. It sorely needed improvement.

But why improve it if you can drop the concept completely! Now, all of the duplicates are merged into one bug, while still preserving all of the details that each individual bug had. This gives you details about which browser the error occurred in, which versions of the browser it occurred in, which pages the error was on, and how many times it has occurred in the past, all in one page. All this done while keeping the report pretty. I feel that this is a huge productivity win. Do let me know what you think.

Graphs integrated right into error reports

The graphs feature was an instant hit from when it was launched. It was clear that graphically visualizing information is much more pleasant as compared to loads of text. So, I've taken the idea of graphs to the next level — displaying them within the error report itself. See the following screenshot for an example.

Inline scripts

Inline scripts' detection has been added. This tells you where the breaking script was located — whether it was in an external script file, or it was in an inline script tag on the page. This helps a great deal in debugging the the error, as you know exactly where to look.

Inline scripts usually tend to exist on several pages — for example if they are generated by Rails helpers. We now smartly detect if there are such pages on which the same error has occurred in the same script, and designate them as duplicates of each other. Previously this wasn't a factor that was taken into account when marking bugs as duplicates. This has been the single largest contributor towards reducing total bug count.

When did the error occur?

One critical piece of information for a JavaScript developer is when in the page cycle did the error occur. Errors that happened during bootstrapping (ie. before page load) are very different from errors that happened after page load. This information was never before available, and has now been added to your error logs. This should simplify debugging significantly.

And much more…

That's just a small set of the new features rolled out. There have been improvements all over the place, right from the error listing to the notification emails. There has also been a massive performance boost — previously the report generation slowed down as the number of errors grew. Support for Opera and iOS has been improved since they started supporting window.onerror. However, probably the most important improvements have been in areas that are invisible — this build gives us immense flexibility at the logging and data-model end, so that additional features can be built with amazing ease and at a high pace.

Do let me know what you think of the new features in the comments or over email. Feedback is always welcome. Wish you a great year ahead!


  1. Visual error reports. Great idea!

    But the 3d pie chart irks me. Check this out:

  2. That's an interesting idea, Jonathan. I'll see how I can incorporate those thoughts into the chart. Thanks for the pointer.