Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Windows Error Reporting (WER) vs. Custom Error Reporting

"Windows Error Reporting (WER) is a technology introduced by Microsoft with Windows XP and included in later Windows. Windows Error Reporting collects and offers to send post-error debug information (a memory dump) using the internet to the developer of an application that crashes or stops responding on a user's desktop" – Wikipedia

Until this past month, we had been maintaining our WER account for the past four years. For each VNC Manager build, we would create special map file and upload it to the Microsoft’s server. WER is a great service, no doubt about it, but we eventually discovered one problem with it.

It seems that most of the crash reports weren’t uploaded to the WER server. Most probably some of the users, who experienced VNC Manager crashes, choose not to upload the error reports or had their WER service disabled or stopped. On average, we were receiving 5 to 8 crash reports per month only. We do invest a lot of time in making the VNC Manager a very stable product, but had a feeling that 5-8 crash reports per month is unusually low number. We weren’t getting the real picture and weren’t aware about some of the application crashes.

Starting with the VNC Manager 5.5.20.0, we have switched to using custom built error reporting service, specially tailored to work with .Net based applications. And what a difference did it make! First of all it made us confident that the time we invest in making stable product pays off.

Currently the most frequent reason for the VNC Manager crashes is a bug in Infragistics NetAdvantage toolkit. Infragistics acknowledges that there is a bug, but they are not sure how to fix it. We are working with them, helping to resolve the issue.

Today we released 5.5.22.0 build. It fixes all known crash causing problems that we reported by the users of builds that include the new custom error reporting feature.

error_reporting

If a rare event occurs and the Manager crashes, you will see error reporting window depicted above. When you will be submitting your crash reports, please include your email address (this is optional). This way we will be able to follow-up with you and notify when a bug is fixed.

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