Application Insights for Xamarin- and UWP apps with TinyInsights

About two and a half years ago I created a library with the name TinyInsights with the idea to abstract away the underlying provider for diagnostics and analytics. The reason was that I wanted to make it possible to change the provider without that it affected my code more than in the initial setup of the app. Because diagnostics- and analytics services have a tendency to come and go, for example, Xamarin Insights and HockeyApp are no longer with us. Instead, we now have AppCenter, which also was my first provider for TinyInsights. I also wanted to make it possible to use multiple providers at the same time, because I have worked with apps where business analysts want the data to be in Google Analytics and developers want another service because other services are better for finding errors in apps.

My default provider has been AppCenter the last years, but recently I have missed a couple of important features and you can not analyze the data any deeper. You can export the data to Application Insights and then you can create deeper reports etc. But the way AppCenter store data make some questions harder to make in a good way. For example, if you want to track page views, you have to do that as an event. Application Insights is not built to handle page views that way, because it has real support for page views. AppCenter also lacks the future of tracking dependencies.

So what I decided to do was to create a new provider to TinyInsights with support for Application Insights. But I still using AppCenter for crashes and errors, because it also supporting me to upload symbols to it and Application Insights have no good way to distinguish between an error and a crash. But when I am logging crashes to Application Insights I am setting a custom property with the name “IsCrash” to “true”.

I have implemented TrackDependency to all providers, but for AppCenter it only saves all data as custom properties and there is no good way to visualize them, but the data is there if you want to export it to your own visualizer.

Below I have written a short introduction about how to get started with the ApplicationInsightsProvider and TinyInsights in general.

Initializing Application Insights Provider

When initializing TinyInsights you need to specify what provider or providers you want to use. For Application Insights, you only need to give it the IntrumentationKey. If you don’t pass different keys for different platforms all data will be collected together and not as in AppCenter where you create one app per platform.

var appInsights = new ApplicationInsightsProvider("{InstrumentationKey}");
var appCenter = new AppCenterProvider("{keyForIOS}", "{keyForAndroid}", {keyForUWP});
appCenter.IsTrackPageViewsEnabled = false;
appCenter.IsTrackEventsEnabled = false;
appCenter.IsTrackDependencyEnabled = false;
 
TinyInsights.Configure(appCenterProvider, applicationInsightsProvider);

Handling exceptions

To track exceptions/errors, just use the TrackErrorAsync method. Crashes will automatcially be tracked and sent to Application Insights next time the user is starting the app.

catch(Ecception ex)
{
     await TinyInsights.TrackErrorAsync(ex);
}
 
//with properties
var properties = new  Dictionarty<string, string>();
properties.Add("MyFirstProperty", "MyFirstValue");
properties.Add("MySecondProperty", "MySeconndValue");
 
catch(Ecception ex)
{
     await TinyInsights.TrackErrorAsync(ex, properties);
}

Tracking dependencies

There are a two of ways to track dependencies with TinyInsights.
The first and the basic method is TrackDependencyAsync, and is also used in the background by the other way to do it.

var startTime = DateTimeOffset.Now;
 
var success = await GetData();
 
var duration = DateTimeOffset.Now - startTime
 
await TinyInsights.TrackDependencyAsync("api.mydomain.se", "https://api/mydomain.se/v1/data/get", startTime, duration, success);

The second way is to create a TinyDependency object that handles most of the tracking for you. You will do that by just by wrapping your code for the dependency in a using statement.

using (var tracker = TinyInsights.CreateDependencyTracker("api.mydomain.se", "https://api/mydomain.se/v1/data/get"))
{
     await GetData();
}

If the dependency succeded that is fine, but if it not you need to handle that on your own, using the Finish method of the TinyDependency object.

using (var tracker = TinyInsights.CreateDependencyTracker("api.mydomain.se", "https://api/mydomain.se/v1/data/get"))
{
     try
     {
          var repsonse = await GetData();
 
          if(!response.IsSuccessStatusCode)
          {
               await tracker.Finish(false, (int)response.StatusCode);
          }
     }
     catch(Exception ex)
     {
          tracker.Finish(false, ex);
     }
}

Tracking page views

To track page views, just use the TrackPageViewAsync method.

await TinyInsights.TrackPageViewAsync("SuperCoolView");
 
//with properties
var properties = new  Dictionarty<string, string>();
properties.Add("MyFirstProperty", "MyFirstValue");
properties.Add("MySecondProperty", "MySeconndValue");
 
await TinyInsights.TrackPageViewAsync("SuperCoolView", properties);

Tracking events

To track events, just use the TrackEventAync method.

await TinyInsights.TrackEventAsync("SuperCoolEvent");
 
//with properties
var properties = new  Dictionarty<string, string>();
properties.Add("MyFirstProperty", "MyFirstValue");
properties.Add("MySecondProperty", "MySeconndValue");
 
await TinyInsights.TrackEventAsync("SuperCoolEvent", properties);

Feedback

If you have any feedback, please create an issue on GitHub. You will also be welcome to contribute to the library with improvments or/and other providers.
 

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