Sunday, March 1, 2020

AppCenter Extensions for ASP.NET Core and Application Insights

In my previous post, I wrote about an open source project called AppCenterExtensions available at Github and nuget.org. I recently updated this project and added a few components for ASP.NET Core that enables including AppCenter diagnostic information in Application Insights.

The NuGet package is called AppCenterExtensions.AppInsights and contains extension methods and ITelemetryInitializer implementations to be used in a ASP.NET Core web app for including AppCenter diagnostic information when logging to Application Insights

Enabling this is easy. Assuming that the project is already configured to use Application Insights, just add the AppCenterExtensions.AppInsights NuGet package mentioned above to your ASP.NET Core and call services.AddAppCenterTelemetry() in the ConfigureServices method of the Startup class

Here's an example:

public class Startup
{
    public Startup(IConfiguration configuration)
    {
        Configuration = configuration;
    }

    public IConfiguration Configuration { get; }

    public void ConfigureServices(IServiceCollection services)
    {
        // Configure and register services to the IoC

        services.AddApplicationInsightsTelemetry();
        services.AddAppCenterTelemetry();
    }

    public void Configure(IApplicationBuilder app, IWebHostEnvironment env)
    {
        // Configure app
    }
}

Once this is setup, AppCenter diagnostic information should now be searchable and visible in Application Insights.

Here's a screenshot of search results for the x-supportkey header



and here's a screenshot of the details of a single request containing AppCenter diagnostic information logged in Application Insights



With this flow you can now correlate Crash Reports and Analytics data from AppCenter with the HTTP requests for your backend systems in Application Insights. In the systems that I have been involved with building we include the AppCenter diagnostic information from our API Gateway to all calls to our internal Microservices

Tuesday, February 25, 2020

AppCenter Extensions for Xamarin.Forms

For the past 3 years or so I have been AppCenter for Crash Reporting and Analytics in Xamarin based apps. During this time, I have mostly built enterprise focused apps using Xamarin.Forms and as a developer I always think about code reuse which usually comes in the form of a library. Early this year, I decided to create and open source a set of convenience classes and extension methods to simplify Crash Reporting and Analytics using AppCenter and called it AppCenterExtensions.

The core features of the project are the following:
  • Simplified user interaction reporting using ICommand implementations
  • Automatic page tracking in Xamarin.Forms including time spent on screen
  • Extension methods for crash reporting
  • Anonymous user information configuration
This library is distributed as 2 NuGet packages
Getting Started

This library is configured almost the same way as the AppCenter SDK. You provide the AppCenter secrets, and specify whether to anonymize the user information. Both Crash Reporting and Analytics are always enabled when using AppCenterSetup.

AppCenterSetup.Instance.Start(
    "[iOS AppCenter secret]",
    "[Android AppCenter secret]",
    anonymizeAppCenterUser: true);
or
await AppCenterSetup.Instance.StartAsync(
    "[iOS AppCenter secret]",
    "[Android AppCenter secret]",
    anonymizeAppCenterUser: true);

The reason for the async API here is because anonymizeAppCenterUser internally relies on an async API. The synchronous API's for starting AppCenter are non-blocking methods that do a fire-and-forget call to StartAsync(string,bool).

Anonymous User Information

The component AppCenterSetup exposes a method called UseAnonymousUserIdAsync() which sets the UserId in AppCenter to the first 8 characters a GUID that is unique per app installation. This can be used as a support key for uniquely identifying application users for instrumentation and troubleshooting. The support key can be attached to all HTTP calls by using the DiagnosticDelegatingHandler

AppCenter Crash Report

Error Reporting

The library exposes extension methods to the Exception class for conveniently reporting Exceptions to AppCenter

Example:
try
{
    // Something that blows up
    explosives.Detonate();
}
catch (Exception e)
{
    // Safely handle error then report
    e.Report();
}

HTTP Error Logging

The library provides a HttpMessageHandler implementation that logs non-successfuly HTTP results to AppCenter Analytics. This component will also attach HTTP headers describing the AppCenter SDK Version, Install ID, and a support key to all HTTP requests. The logged failed responses will contain the Endpoint URL (including the HTTP verb), Response status code, how the duration of the HTTP call. This will be logged under the event name HTTP Error

You will in most (if not all) cases would want to keep a singleton instance of the HttpClient. The DiagnosticDelegatingHandler is designed with unit testing in mind and accepts an IAnalytics and IAppCenterSetup interface, it also accepts an inner HttpMessageHandler if you wish to chain multiple delegating handlers.

Example:
var httpClient = new HttpClient(new DiagnosticDelegatingHandler());
await httpClient.GetAsync("https://entbpr4b9bdpo.x.pipedream.net/");

In the example above we made an HTTP GET call to the RequestBin endpoint https://entbpr4b9bdpo.x.pipedream.net. This will result in the following we inspected in RequestBin

AppCenter Crash Report

ITrackingCommand

This library provides 3 convenience implementations of ICommand that will report the action to AppCenter Analytics after successfully invoking the execute callback method
  • TrackingCommand - This implementation accepts an Action as the Execute callback and a Func<bool> as the CanExecute callback
  • TrackingCommand - This implementation accepts an Action<T> as the Execute callback and a Func<T, bool> as the CanExecute callback
  • AsyncTrackingCommand - This implementation accepts a Func<Task> as the execute callback and a Func<bool> as the CanExecute callback. This also exposes a CompletionTask property that the consumer can await if desired. The Execute(object parameter) method here is a non-blocking call
Example:
using System.Threading.Tasks;
using System.Windows.Input;
using ChristianHelle.DeveloperTools.AppCenterExtensions.Commands;
using ChristianHelle.DeveloperTools.AppCenterExtensions.Extensions;
using Microsoft.AppCenter.Crashes;
using Xamarin.Essentials;

namespace SampleApp.ViewModels
{
    public class AboutViewModel : BaseViewModel
    {
        public AboutViewModel()
        {
            AsyncButtonTappedCommand = new AsyncTrackingCommand(
                OnAsyncButtonTapped,
                nameof(AsyncButtonTappedCommand).ToTrackingEventName(),
                nameof(AboutViewModel).ToTrackingEventName());

            ButtonOneTappedCommand = new TrackingCommand(
                OnButtonOneTapped,
                nameof(ButtonOneTappedCommand).ToTrackingEventName(),
                nameof(AboutViewModel).ToTrackingEventName());

            ButtonTwoTappedCommand = new TrackingCommand<string>(
                OnButtonTapped,
                nameof(ButtonTwoTappedCommand).ToTrackingEventName(),
                nameof(AboutViewModel).ToTrackingEventName());
        }

        public ICommand AsyncButtonTappedCommand { get; }
        public ICommand ButtonOneTappedCommand { get; }
        public ICommand ButtonTwoTappedCommand { get; }

        private Task OnAsyncButtonTapped()
            => Browser.OpenAsync("https://xamarin.com");

        private void OnButtonOneTapped() { }

        private void OnButtonTwoTapped(string obj) { }
    }
}

Specifying the screenName argument in the constructor is optional and when this is not provided manually then it will use the declaring Type name from the method that instantiated the ITrackingCommand instance and convert it to a more analytics friendly event name using the ToTrackingEventName() extension method. In the example above, if the nameof(AboutViewModel).ToTrackingEventName() parameter is not provided then the owner declaring Type is AboutViewModel and the ScreenName will be set to "About"

Automatic Page Tracking

Automatic page tracking is enabled by replacing the base class of the ContentPage to classes to use TrackingContentPage class. By doing so the library will send page tracking information to AppCenter after leaving every page. Currently, the library will send the page Type, Title, and the duration spent on the screen. The library is rather opinionated on how to log information, and this will only change if I get a request to do so. Duration spent on screen is calculated using a Stopwatch that is started upon Page OnAppearing and is reported to Analytics upon OnDisappearing. The event name is based on the Type name of the Page and is split into multiple words based on pascal case rules and afterwards removes words like Page, View, Model, Async. For example: UserSettingsPage or UserSettingsView becomes User Settings

XAML Example:
<?xml version="1.0" encoding="utf-8"?>
<ext:TrackingContentPage 
    xmlns="http://xamarin.com/schemas/2014/forms" 
    xmlns:x="http://schemas.microsoft.com/winfx/2009/xaml" 
    xmlns:d="http://xamarin.com/schemas/2014/forms/design" 
    xmlns:mc="http://schemas.openxmlformats.org/markup-compatibility/2006"
    xmlns:ext="clr-namespace:AppCenterExtensions.XamarinForms;assembly=AppCenterExtensions.XamarinForms"
    mc:Ignorable="d" 
    x:Class="SampleApp.Views.ItemDetailPage" 
    Title="{Binding Title}">

    <StackLayout Spacing="20" Padding="15">
        <Label Text="Text:" FontSize="Medium" />
        <Label Text="{Binding Item.Text}" d:Text="Item name" FontSize="Small" />
        <Label Text="Description:" FontSize="Medium" />
        <Label Text="{Binding Item.Description}" d:Text="Item description" FontSize="Small" />
    </StackLayout>

</ext:TrackingContentPage>

Custom Trace Listener

This library includes a trace listener implementation that reports to AppCenter. The reason for this is to cater to those who have implemented error handling or reporting using Trace Listeners, these types of users can just swap out (or add on) the AppCenterTraceListener

This implementation implements the following methods:
  • Write(object obj)
  • Write(object obj, string category)
  • WriteLine(object obj)
  • WriteLine(object obj, string category)
If the object provided is an Exception then this is reported to AppCenter Crash Reporting. If the object provided is an instance of AnalyticsEvent then this is sent to AppCenter Analytics

The AnalyticsEvent exposes 2 properties:
  • string EventName { get; } - self explanatory
  • IDictionary<string,string> Properties { get; } - Additional properties to attach to the Analytics event
To set it up you simply add an instance of AppCenterTraceListener to your existing Trace listeners:
Trace.Listeners.Add(new AppCenterTraceListener());

Here's an example of how to use System.Diagnostics.Trace to report errors
try
{
    // Something that blows up
    explosives.Detonate();
}
catch (Exception e)
{
    // Safely handle error then report
    Trace.Write(e);

    // or
    Trace.Write(e, "Error");

    // or
    Trace.WriteLine(e);

    // or
    Trace.WriteLine(e, "Error");
}
and here's an example of to use System.Diagnostics.Trace to send analytics data
public partial class App : Application
{
    private const string StateKey = "State";

    public App()
    {
        // Some initialization code ...

        Trace.Listeners.Add(new AppCenterTraceListener());
    }

    protected override void OnStart()
        => Trace.Write(
            new AnalyticsEvent(
                nameof(Application),
                new Dictionary<string, string>
                {
                    { StateKey, nameof(OnStart) }
                }));

    protected override void OnSleep()
        => Trace.Write(
            new AnalyticsEvent(
                nameof(Application),
                new Dictionary<string, string>
                {
                    { StateKey, nameof(OnSleep) }
                }));

    protected override void OnResume()
        => Trace.Write(
            new AnalyticsEvent(
                nameof(Application),
                new Dictionary<string, string>
                {
                    { StateKey, nameof(OnResume) }
                }));
}

Task Extensions

This library includes a few Task extension methods with AppCenter error reporting in mind. Possible exceptions that occur in the async operation are swallowed and reported to AppCenter. These extension methods will internally wrap the Task in a try/catch and await the Task using ConfigureAwait(false).

Here are usage some examples

Fire and Forget on a Task (Note: Forget() returns void)
var task = someClass.SomethingAsync()
task.Forget()

Awaitable Task (also available for Task<T>)
var task = someClass.SomethingAsync()
await task.WhenErrorReportAsync();

Wednesday, June 26, 2019

Generate Android Translations from Google Sheets

In previous articles Generating ResX translations from Google Sheets and Generate iOS InfoPlist.strings Translations from Google Sheets, I wrote about using Google Sheets as a translation tool by using the GOOGLETRANSLATE built in function to generate translation files for a Xamarin based solution. For this post, I will demonstrate something very similar, but instead of ResX files or InfoPlist.strings, I'll generate strings.xml files for Android. For the sake of this article I created this sample Google Sheets

For a quick recap, we will use a tool called csvtrans written by my colleague and good friend, Ricky Kaare Engelharth. The tool is built with .NET Core and can be installed using this command

dotnet tool install -g csvtrans

Using the tool is also straight forward and it also comes with some quick start instructions

USAGE: csvtrans [--help] [--sheet <document id> <sheet name>]
                [--csv <url or path>] [--format <apple|android|resx>]
                [--outputdir <directory path>] [--name <string>]
                [--convert-placeholders <regex pattern>]

OPTIONS:

    --sheet, -s <document id> <sheet name>
                          specify a Google Sheet as input.
    --csv, -c <url or path>
                          specify a online or local cvs file as input.
    --format, -f <apple|android|resx>
                          specify the output format.
    --outputdir, -o <directory path>
                          specify the output directory.
    --name, -n <string>   specify an optional name for the output.
    --convert-placeholders, -p <regex pattern>
                          convert placeholders to match the output format.
    --help                display this list of options.

Here's an example usage of tool

csvtrans --sheet 1mrMkhItrIDsPwEKMlR8JJ3Pgj1K6zUv0AhmBT4jWRqs Android --format android --outputdir .\Resources\

The first argument –-sheet is the Google Sheet document ID followed by the Sheet Name, the next argument –-format specifies the output file format, and the last argument –-outputdir specifies the output folder

You can get the Document ID from the URL of the Google Sheet



Here's an example output



Now I can just bring these files into my project and use them directly. Well, almost! There's one little problem, and that is that by default the Xamarin.Android csproj tooling explicitly adds each strings.xml file as an AndroidResource. Oddly enough, the csproj format allows to specify wild card folders, so if we want to enable dynamic generation of values/strings.xml translations then we need to manually edit the csproj.

This is actually very easy to do. We just need to replace the lines like



with



This opens up for dynamic translations at build time using your CI/CD build tools of choice

Tuesday, June 18, 2019

Generate iOS InfoPlist.strings Translations from Google Sheets

In my previous article Generating ResX translations from Google Sheets, I wrote about using Google Sheets as a translation tool by using the GOOGLETRANSLATE built in function to generate translation files for a Xamarin.Forms solution. For this post, I will demonstrate something very similar, but instead of ResX files I'll generate InfoPlist.strings files in iOS for localizing the permission request prompts for accessing things like Camera, Location, Photo Gallery, etc. For the sake of this article I created this sample Google Sheets

For a quick recap, we will use a tool called csvtrans written by my colleague and good friend, Ricky Kaare Engelharth. The tool is built with .NET Core and can be installed using this command

dotnet tool install -g csvtrans

Using the tool is also straight forward and it also comes with some quick start instructions

USAGE: csvtrans [--help] [--sheet <document id> <sheet name>]
                [--csv <url or path>] [--format <apple|android|resx>]
                [--outputdir <directory path>] [--name <string>]
                [--convert-placeholders <regex pattern>]

OPTIONS:

    --sheet, -s <document id> <sheet name>
                          specify a Google Sheet as input.
    --csv, -c <url or path>
                          specify a online or local cvs file as input.
    --format, -f <apple|android|resx>
                          specify the output format.
    --outputdir, -o <directory path>
                          specify the output directory.
    --name, -n <string>   specify an optional name for the output.
    --convert-placeholders, -p <regex pattern>
                          convert placeholders to match the output format.
    --help                display this list of options.

Here’s an example usage of the tool

csvtrans --sheet 125id155PUq-6Odwg8Nf9fmkgBsKahTGbJYaYBD2rpSg iOS --format apple --outputdir .\Resources --name InfoPlist

The first argument –-sheet is the Google Sheet document ID followed by the Sheet Name, the next argument –-format specifies the output file format, the argument –-outputdir specifies the output folder, and the last argument --name specifies the output filename.

You can get the Document ID from the URL of the Google Sheet



Here's an example output



Now I can just bring these files into my project and use them directly. Well, almost! There's one little problem, and that is that by default the Xamarin.iOS csproj tooling explicitly adds each InfoPlist.strings file as a BundleResource. Oddly enough, the csproj format allows to specify wild card folders, so if we want to enable dynamic generation of InfoPlist.strings translations then we need to manually edit the csproj.

This is actually very easy to do. We just need to replace the lines like



with



This opens up for dynamic translations at build time using your CI/CD build tools of choice

Wednesday, June 12, 2019

Generate Resx Translations from Google Sheets

In my career, I have tried multiple translation tools for handling localization. This usually ends up in a spreadsheet sent back and forth that gets imported/exported with the actual translation tool. I have also tried giving my translators and customers direct access to the translation tool but that never really worked as they tend to blindly translate everything they see and usually miss out on the fact that some strings contain important placeholders that executable code expects. Anyway, at the end of the sending a spreadsheet back and forth seems to always work.

In a recent project, I built an Android and iOS app with Xamarin.Forms that used Resx files for handling cross platform translations, and InfoPlist.strings files in iOS for localizing OS requirement prompts for using things like Camera, Localization, Photos, etc. For this project we thought about playing around with Google Sheets as a translation tool. Google Sheets has built in Google Translate support so you can do something like =GOOGLETRANSLATE($B2,$B$1,C$1) where $B2 describes the text to translate, $B1 describes the source language, in this case English is the default, and $C1 describes the language to translate to. With this approach, I can very easily, blindly, add new translations to my app, like in this sample Google Sheets document, where I added Danish, German, Filipino, Simplified Chinese, Japanese, and Koreanusing the Google Translate tool. Of course, this needs to be proof-read by a translation professional who mastered the language, but this approach is very convenient for checking out how the app looks like in different languages.

Now here’s the awesome part. My colleague and good friend, Ricky Kaare Engelharth, created a translation tool called csvtrans that can produce Resx, iOS, and Android translation files from a publicly available Google Sheets document. The tool is written in .NET Core and is publicly available from nuget.org as a tool.

The tool can be installed using this command

dotnet tool install -g csvtrans


Using the tool is also straight forward and it also comes with some quick start instructions

USAGE: csvtrans [--help] [--sheet <document id> <sheet name>]
                [--csv <url or path>] [--format <apple|android|resx>]
                [--outputdir <directory path>] [--name <string>]
                [--convert-placeholders <regex pattern>]

OPTIONS:

    --sheet, -s <document id> <sheet name>
                          specify a Google Sheet as input.
    --csv, -c <url or path>
                          specify a online or local cvs file as input.
    --format, -f <apple|android|resx>
                          specify the output format.
    --outputdir, -o <directory path>
                          specify the output directory.
    --name, -n <string>   specify an optional name for the output.
    --convert-placeholders, -p <regex pattern>
                          convert placeholders to match the output format.
    --help                display this list of options.

Here’s an example usage of the tool

csvtrans --sheet 1icJ0a48MIIRkbHSIbPyLNXsbTZcPKI_U80QwdX5pWf8 Resx --format resx --outputdir .\Resources

The first argument –-sheet is the Google Sheet document ID followed by the Sheet Name, the next argument –-format specifies the output file format, and the last argument –-outputdir specifies the output folder.

You can get the Document ID from the URL of the Google Sheet



Here's an example output



Now I can just bring these files into my project and use them directly. With the modern csproj format I don't even need to do any changes to include these translation files, as long as the resx files are in the project folder they will be automagically included into the output. This opens up for dynamic translations at build time using your CI/CD build tools of choice