No matter how many hours you've spent developing your app, no matter how good your team of developers are, it's going to crash. But that's ok - crashes aren't something to fear. With the right crash reporting tools in place, a crash can often provide enough information to fix the problem.

At Contact Light, having now soft-launched OTTO in the App Store and shifted Embark into a solid private beta position, we decided to take a deep dive into which crash reporting tool would be best for our iOS apps into the future. The choice was, in the end, a very clear one.

Raygun

Raygun is one of the better known crash reporting tools, with support for a number of platforms. This means you can use one crash reporting tool across a large number of products, including front and back end. Pricing starts at $49/month.

Pros

  • well established platform
  • stylish and easy to navigate website
  • support for many languages
  • clear and straightforward documentation

Cons

  • encountered issues with 64 bit CPU devices
  • uploading dSYM files requires a Raygun app to always be running on your computer, or is a manual process, no project build script provided
  • support for a huge range of programming languages suggests that iOS isn't their priority

Our thoughts

Raygun looks like a quality product. A straightforward pricing structure means you can be confident the product will be well supported, and documentation was very good. Unfortunately, we encountered issues getting Raygun working correctly with 64 bit CPUs. Given that all iPhones from the iPhone 5s and up are 64 bit, this is a deal breaker, and it meant we couldn't even evaluate the quality of Raygun's crash report data. The Raygun iOS SDK appears to have been updated recently, and at regular intervals, so it's unclear why this issue occurred.

Rollbar

Rollbar is another well known crash reporting tool, again with support for an impressive number of platforms. Pricing starts at $29/month for small teams.

Pros

  • well established platform
  • support for many languages
  • clear and straightforward documentation
  • ability to record other arbitrary logging data
  • dSYM build phase upload script provided

Cons

  • encountered issues with delayed crash reports
  • limited crash report data
  • again, support for many languages instills little confidence that iOS is a priority

Our thoughts

Rollbar is not quite as flashy as Raygun, but the documentation is solid. Like Raygun, Rollbar's pricing is clear and quite reasonable. Integrating the tool with our app was straightforward, but that's where the problems began. No matter how many times we crashed our app, the crash reports wouldn't arrive, and didn't appear until about 8 hours later. A few emails with support seemed to indicate there was nothing wrong on our side. To their credit, support offered to escalate our issue to an iOS specialist, but by this point we felt that the crash report data was lacking anyway, and we wanted to look at a product that was more focused on iOS to begin with.

Crittercism

Crittercism is a crash reporting tool focused specifically on mobile apps. A free tier is available, but any other pricing details require contacting the sales department.

Pros

  • mobile app specific tool
  • clear and straightforward documentation
  • detailed crash data provided
  • ability to download raw crash report
  • dSYM build phase upload script provided

Cons

  • hidden pricing structure
  • tired looking web interface

Our thoughts

Crittercism lacks transparency with their pricing, and the interface looks tired and outdated. However, the most important thing when it comes to crash reporting is the quality and accuracy of those reports, and this is where Crittercism shines. Full crash reports are provided both in summarised and detailed formats, and there's quick access to the complete and original crash report from the user's device. Crittercism also makes it a simple automated process to upload your dSYM files, a crucial step in the crash reporting process.

The conclusion

Although Raygun and Rollbar are both well established players in the crash reporting field, Crittercism is a mobile app specialist and it shows. The are many other crash reporting tools out there, but with the most highly recommended ones now evaluated, we're getting back to building features and are moving forward with Crittercism. We can confidently recommend that other mobile app developers do the same.