Stack Trace Monitoring: Gaps in Measuring the User Experience

Our digital world is evolving and advancing at an unimaginable pace – and so are the expectations of end users.  Momentum is everything in today’s united world, and having a poor performing website or application will likely result in the confidence of your products and services.  And worse yet, any dissatisfaction perceived from the user will also likely result in them going straight to your competitor.  This is an immediate impact on your revenue, brand, and customer confidence. Stack trace monitoring tools can assist with this, but they can only go so far.  This is why it is so critical to implement synthetic application monitoring techniques into your business.

Synthetic monitoring is a blend of mechanisms and processes that can help to ensure that web applications, websites, services, and infrastructure process and function in a specific manner and scope. Adequate application monitoring focuses on user activity, third-party dependencies, as well as infrastructure. No matter what platform a business is using,  user participation, perfect execution, and the progress of business are co-related.  An ideal monitoring platform would not just be able to recognize the obstacles, but also report on those obstacles, and provide information on where those issues occur.  


What is Stack Trace Monitoring? 

A stack trace can be defined as a summary that renders an analysis of the current subroutine of the program is running. Now let’s analyze that little deeper to understand this definition. 

When a program runs, memory is frequently allocated to stacks.  Not to get confused this with programming construct stack, this stack is referred to as the program’s runtime stack. The runtime stack provides information about each subroutine’s priorities and how subroutines should be performed.  Every time a function is being called, a block of memory is allocated on top of the runtime stack  This record is called the activation record or stack pointer. Programmers use stack trace during development and postmortem debugging.  Stack tracing allows tracing all the nested called-up functions, up to the point where the failure has been generated, but does not incorporate sibling calls. 

To conceptualize the stack trace, let’s use an example of three functions to help understand what stack trace stands for and how it can monitor and analyze applications.  Let’s say there are three functions –  a, b and c. Function c is getting called from b and b is getting called from a.  If a failure occurs in function c, then the stack trace event would first show where the error has occurred, function cIt will also show that function c was called by function b, which in turn was called by function a. This is how runtime stack shows every function that has been stacked up until the error occurred, which can help the programmer to surmise the holistic view of the error generation. 

The stack trace can also be utilized as a debugging tool. It displays the call stack (which are the functions that have been called during program runtime) at the time of the uncaught exception is being thrown by the program.  Now let’s understand how this runtime stack can be used in application monitoring. 

For monitoring, experts look at stored subroutines of the application and analyze how the application is running. These stack trace as a subroutine defines application performance during execution. 


Advantages of Stack Trace Monitoring 

 Below is the list of advantages that are provided by stack trace. 

  • Error in Source Code.  As previously described, the stack trace shows the specific line and function in which the exception has occurred, including all the subsequent functions that have been associated with the same thread. Therefore, it is easy for the programmer to examine what performed unreliably. It simplifies the whole process by providing source code.
  • Deal with error/Exceptions. The stack trace is a very essential debugging tool as it exhibits uncaught exceptions during runtime. Exceptions are the incidents that happen throughout the execution of applications that obstruct the methodical flow of guidance.
  • To manipulate stack trace information. The knowledge provided by stack trace monitoring can be shaped per the programmer’s need. This can be done by using the setStackTrace object and transform runtime exceptions. 


Disadvantages of Stack Trace Monitoring

Now that we have outlined some of the features of stack trace monitoring, let’s look at the disadvantages of stack trace monitoring.  Stack trace monitoring lacks specific abilities when it comes to it comes monitoring all the factors that go into providing and measuring the user experience.  These external factors play a crucial role when competitors are just a click away. 

Below are the external factors that stack trace monitoring can not take into consideration.

  • UI Issues.  Stack trace monitoring cannot observe performance from the perspective of a real browser.  UI issues, like hiding/showing of buttons, or CSS concerns, can happen any time to real users and can be a barrier to them continuing through their transactions.
  • Single Page Application (SPA) Visibility.  By investigating detailed performance information, we can overcome all the obstructions that can be in the path of performance. Applications that are JavaScript-based, such as SPAs, need to be monitored for more insights into resource load, response times, and request times, which is not sustained by stack trace monitoring. 
  • Measure Availability.  As stack trace monitoring cannot examine how the application is performing when there are no real users available. Synthetic monitoring makes it easy to recognize the availability and execution of your applications, as confronted by users throughout the world, at any time.  The data can then be used to find areas that require development to ensure no other users are affected.
  • Complex User Transactions: When we’re aiming for better performance, it’s not acceptable to only check exceptions that are being thrown. Other monitoring techniques, like synthetic web application monitoring, can enable you to investigate, research, and simulate every click and swipe, helping you to optimize your strategy and identify steps within the transaction that aren’t performing as intended.  With stack trace monitoring, no application or network assets are monitored, therefore, information cannot obtained to send an alert when things do not work as demanded.
  • Servers/Infrastructure: In this era where downtime equals lost customers, availability is the most fundamental feature of web performance. Even a few seconds of downtime can equate into thousands of dollars of lost revenue.  Monitoring server metrics, which stack trace monitoring cannot do, can provide you with the peace of mind to understand that your site is online and accessible to your customers.
  • Page Speed Performance. This feature is not blended into stack trace monitoring. Slow web browsers can disappoint customers and customers can easily switch to your competitor’s website. So, page speed performance is one of the most significant features for customer satisfaction when it comes to online business. 



As we have seen, stack trace monitoring can be a useful tool for debugging and uncovering errors,  but when it comes to monitoring and measuring the user experience, it does not adequately capture the necessary metrics like a synthetic monitoring solution can.  Stack trace monitoring alone cannot be used to optimize an application’s performance.  In this digital era, where users demand so much from businesses and expect a flawless experience each time, businesses need to consider web application monitoring as their front line into ensuring availability, performance, and uptime of their critical assets.. 


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