28

When one gets the ever popular "such and such" app has stopped, you get offered the option to report it. What are you supposed to say in the "report"?

31

You'll want to help the developer to help you.

mbanzon's answer mentioned that the developer will receive the stack trace of the error, but that only tells us what went wrong and where.

It does not tell us anything about the state the application is in: What was the value of that number, or what was the text that was entered in the text fields? And most importantly, what did the user exactly do to make the application crash?

The latter question is especially important so that we can reproduce the error, and help us understand why the application crashed under these circumstances.

So if you want to really help the developers, write down what you did, what you expected, and what you saw. For example:

I started the app and pressed the button to go to the reports screen. Then I pressed the button to generate the report, and the app crashed. Interestingly, the screen was blank: there was no data visible.

If you don't like typing much, you can be short:

Pressed button to generate report. Screen was blank.

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    I would add that the developer can only fix bugs in their application. If the OS itself has a bug (e.g. lots of bugs are buried deep in WebView), then there is nothing that can be done other than report the issue to Google and hope they fix it somewhere along the line. This happens about 20% of the time. It would be nice if crash reporting automatically went to the correct place when it is an OS-level bug instead of the app developer's queue OR if there was an easy way to report/push the crash upstream to the Android team without having to use their ticketing system. – CubicleSoft Jun 25 '16 at 17:48
  • @CubicleSoft And how does the reporter know whether it's an OS bug or not? Remember that the reporter is part of the OS too. Not even Google developers can do something to determineif it is an OS bug. They need to check it or reproduce it by hand. Again, send to the app developer first, don't mess with Google. – EKons Jun 26 '16 at 13:25
  • @CubicleSoft That may be useful information for any user that experiences crashes on an Android device, but not really in the scope of this question. – nhaarman Jun 27 '16 at 11:39
  • @ΈρικΚωνσταντόπουλος The reporter won't know that. However, Google Play could be intelligent enough to look at the stack trace and determine that the crash should be escalated to Google because the crash is outside the purview of the developer. That would only leave relevant crashes in the dev's queue. The current state of affairs is that useless crash reports end up in the developer's queue that they can't do anything about because they are OS level bugs. So users just keep crashing and reporting and nothing changes. It's the Windows Error Reporting (WER) effect. – CubicleSoft Jun 27 '16 at 13:31
  • @nhaarman It's useful to know that even if you spend the time writing a crash report, it might be useless to the dev because you encountered a bug that exists in the OS and not the app. As I said, I currently see this about 20% of the time or 1 out of every 5 crash reports. Reporting the bug upstream is currently too difficult/time consuming for most devs so they just hit delete. I hit delete as do many other developers. Some of this info could be worked into the answer without being a deterrent to submitting reports (they are still useful, just not always useful). – CubicleSoft Jun 27 '16 at 13:47
9

If you have any information that would help identify the problem it can be a nice addition and help the developer much. If you are playing music via bluetooth and the music app crashes when you switch to a different bluetooth speaker and you experience this every time you switch speaker it would be useful to write "happens when I switch bluetooth speaker" eg.

The developer gets a complete stack trace of the error (only for the code in their app) and that would in many cases be enough to find and resolve the error.

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    I am a developer. Sometimes it is just impossible to fix a crash, because I have no idea where it crashed. (proguard...). Just a small message would make it much easier for the developer to fix the issue. – Thomas Vos Jun 25 '16 at 14:10
  • You are absolutely correct - anything the user knows about what caused the crash and they feel confident about writing could help. Just rearranged my answer to highlight the true meaning ;-) – Michael Banzon Jun 25 '16 at 14:20
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    @SuperThomasLab - Even with Proguard, you can still read / deobfuscate the stack trace if you have the mappings file, which will tell you where it crashed. Read the "Decode an obfuscated stack trace" section of the Proguard guide: developer.android.com/studio/build/shrink-code.html and this: support.google.com/googleplay/android-developer/answer/6295281 – JonasCz - Reinstate Monica Jun 25 '16 at 14:52
  • @JonasCz I know you can decode it (Google Play DC does it for me), however, you still can't get the exact line where it crashed. – Thomas Vos Jun 25 '16 at 15:03
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    @SuperThomasLab You might be able to keep the line numbers too: Proguard retrace missing line numbers – JonasCz - Reinstate Monica Jun 25 '16 at 15:06
4

As a developer, normally I get messages along the lines of "It crashed" which doesn't help me in any way. I would actually encourage you to not supply a message unless you can explain how to reproduce it (eg, if you can make it crash by doing something specific in the app).

Us developers also get a dump of technical information, which is normally more useful that a message saying where it crashed. Eg, the technical information tells us the exact line of code that it crashed on, and a lot more that pretty much tell us exactly what happened.

So basically, if you don't have anything to say about the crash, just submit it without a message and it will still be just as useful.

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1

You could retrace your steps up to the point the app crashed. e.g. what app were you using before this app? did you have wifi on? good coverage? did your credit happen to expire while using the app?

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