Unique and Helpful Features of HockeyApp
HockeyApp is an essential tool for software developers who want to distribute and gather feedback for their applications on iOS, Android, OS X, and Windows. It was launched in 2011 in Stuttgart, Germany and later bought by Microsoft.
HockeyApp was created by its four founders, Michael Simmons, Andreas Linde, Stefan Haubold and Thomas Dohmke for use with apps they had created themselves. Other developers began using it. Then, developers at Microsoft used HockeyApp to make its platform even better, and the firm later became a subsidiary of Microsoft.
The HockeyApp software allows developers to distribute their applications as an installable app on the HockeyApp dashboard. Developers have full control over which users can see and install their app. HockeyApp also allows developers to group users into teams and make each user of an app an owner, developer, member or tester, giving them full control over individual permissions. Also, developers have the ability to transfer app ownership between organizations and accounts if they choose.
Developers can also send out newer versions of the app so that users can update it and continue to test it. Then the users can create support requests, alert the developers of bugs, or post ideas from within the app. All of the user feedback is handled as discussions that can be managed in the web interface or answered via email. The discussions can also be marked as new or old and marked as completed or incompleted.
HockeyApp provides deep crash analytics across all mobile platforms. The crash reports include in-depth details of the location of the errors in the code, including class names, methods, and accurate line numbers. Developers can see how many unique devices experienced a crash over a given amount of time, allowing them to make corrections and changes to their application.
HockeyApp has many unique and helpful features. It enables developers to:
- Distribute apps by making them available apps on its dashboard for both desktop or mobile. From this dashboard, testers can directly install their desired apps.
- Control administration rights over who can see and install the app(s). Users will be notified of new versions on iOS, Android, and all other supported platforms, and can be required to update to a specific version if you wish.
- Gather all the necessary information about your latest build automatically, so uploading a new build for your app is not overly complicated. This includes the platform-dependent app-identifier, version and build number and symbolication information for crash reports.
- Manage testing by grouping testers, collecting device identifiers and restricting access to certain groups. Administrators will have full control of the release dates and notifications sent to testers. HockeyApp even allows you to build a recruitment page for inviting new testers.
The feedback feature can be used for builds of all apps, as well as beta versions. HockeyApp makes it easy for users to give you their feedback. Users can create support requests, file bugs, and post ideas right from within your app. All feedback is handled as discussions. Admins can manage them in the HockeyApp web interface, or answer them via email. You can also mark discussions as completed or create tickets based on them in your own internal bug tracker.
HockeyApp Teams allow developers to organize users into teams. As an admin, you can grant or revoke access to each individual app on a per-team or individual basis — or assign each app user as an owner, developer, member or tester. Owners have full control over the app as well as individual permissions, while developers can upload and edit all basic data of an app. Members can view all data and answer to feedback, and Testers can download and install the app to test it. Regardless of their role, every user can post new feedback to the application. You can even create whole organizations in HockeyApp to structure your ownership. Each organization has a different set of owners who can then take full control over the account.
Crash Reports allow developers to send crash reports automatically or with user interaction. It also allows the developer to add custom metadata to your reports as well as log files. HockeyApp uses its servers to process and symbolicate all crash reports, which allows you to get meaningful stack traces with class names, methods, and accurate line numbers. It also groups similar crashes together to show which have the most impact on an app’s customer experience. In addition, HockeyApp contains search tools to help find the root cause for a bug. It also provides the option to connect a bug tracking system.
User Metrics allows HockeyApp admins to track app adoption through daily active users, monthly active users, and net new users. They can also measure customer engagement through session count and verify an app’s reliability day by day. User Metrics show how many unique devices experienced a crash on a given day or experienced a specific type of crash in the last 30 days. This helps you to identify if a crash group with a lot of crashes is also widespread or if only a few people are experiencing the same crash over and over again.
Enterprise allows developers to distribute in-house apps for employees on all supported platforms or scale with an organization’s demands. By combining Visual Studio Team Services with HockeyApp, you can implement a strong Mobile DevOps process that allows you to create and export an app more efficiently.
At Digital Scientists, we use HockeyApp because it’s a great medium to release early versions of applications to users and receive feedback from them. It also helps us get a larger group of people to test an app instead of just relying on a product’s QA team. HockeyApp allows our developers to view the data about crashes to see what types of errors are occurring, and on which devices these crashes are occurring most often. These crash analytics are very specific, making it easy to correct problems.
The HockeyApp software is also easy to work with and has a good user interface for developers and businesses. It makes the app testing and rollout process easy and efficient, from publishing apps to releasing updates, to tracking statistics and getting user feedback. Even the download and installation process for HockeyApp is relatively quick. You just download the respective client SDK for your platform. Then, integrate the SDK using either one of HockeyApp’s client apps or manually with just a few clicks. As a result, you are ready to upload your app build to HockeyApp and start distributing your app. It’s that simple.
Note: A popular alternative to HockeyApp is TestFlight. The product was created in 2010 and later acquired by Apple. We’ve used TestFlight for app distribution and testing with much success – but after Android support was terminated in March 2014, we switched to HockeyApp to manage both iOS and Android releases.
Brandon Puckett is a Digital Scientists intern from Roswell High School.