Why Stack Trace APM Isn’t Enough for Complete Web Application Monitoring

It’s probably true to say that if you asked an average user what makes a great web application, they’d probably say “speed.” But speed is the probably the least important aspect of an extensive rundown of elements. Factors like application development and rendering in the program are probably higher on that list. And what makes up a great performing application?  And when something goes wrong, how do you know?  These are some of the questions that stack trace monitoring and synthetic web application performance monitoring set out to answer. Both have their advantages and drawbacks, but this article will set out to explain what makes a better tool for ensuring that the user’s experience is put at the forefront of determining what makes a great web application.


What is a Stack Trace?

A stack trace is a useful investigating instrument. It exhibits the “Call Stack,” which are the piles of functionalities/methodologies which were called up to the present state of program execution, at the time an unknown special case was tossed by the compiler (or the moment when stack trail was produced physically).

This is exceptionally valuable since it doesn’t just give you where the error occurred, it can also give you insight into how the program wound up in that spot of the program. It’s aim is to provide what methods have been called up until the point the program crashed and gives a rundown of the method calls that the application was experiencing.  It assists us with making sense of how something turned out the way it did, and displays an opportunity to rectify the error.  Without this tracing, these actions would go unaccounted for, and any errors would become silent.  The service subsequently becomes what is prominently referred as a “black box.”


What is an Exception?

An exception is the thing that the runtime condition uses to advise us that an error has been encountered.  Well known models are NullPointerException, IndexOutOfBoundsException, or ArithmeticException. Each of these are caused when you attempt to accomplish something that is literally unimaginable (by the computer that is). For instance, a NullPointerException will be tossed once you attempt to reference an InvalidArticle




The above picture depicts a stack trace. We start toward the start of the rundown of “at …“, we can tell where the error occurred. What we’re attempting to discover is the first encounter of a method call, which could be a piece of our application or part of the modules are used in the application. For this situation, the offender is “at com.example.myproject.Book.getTitle(Book.java:16).”  We can consequently open the Book.java and take a look at line 16. This is a basic case of what happens when we retrace a stack.

Likewise, it can also be brought on by a chain of exemptions like the following:




The culprit in this case is where it begins at “Caused by: java.lang.NullPointerException at com.example.myproject.Book.getId(Book.java:22) at com.example.myproject.Author.getBookIds(Author.java:36)

What’s distinctive about this one is the “Caused by” clause. Once in a while exemptions will have various “Caused by” areas. In some cases, you need to search out the “underlying driver,” which can be one of many such segments inside the backtrack.


How Third-party Code Influences Stack Backtrack

Current applications frequently have numerous layers of function call triggered in a cross fashion (i.e. a function calling others or in some cases itself). To make matters increasingly confusing, we regularly have numerous layers of programming code that add to the call stack. Code from our runtime or imported libraries can reduce our call stack’s purity, making it difficult to peruse or disentangle while fixing exceptions.  By now you might be thinking, “What does this block of output do to help me to identify bugs?”


How Call Stacks and Traces Help in Execution

Up until this point, we’ve spoken mostly about code mishaps, not the execution. At the point when a bug shows up, we need to isolate the conditions encompassing its appearance and replay those to reproduce the bug. And in the case of performance, we need an approach to accomplish the above stated techniques too. We have to simulate the present framework conditions, reconsider our current circumstances, make necessary changes, and replay previews of the present framework conditions to analyze the results.

Execution tuning begins by discovering, estimating, and upgrading to mitigate the greatest bottlenecks first. As producers of any performance tuning module, we must know this procedure of measuring, updating, and optimizing all too well.  This is the moment when call stacks can help us with examining this process.  To get the information collected, we essentially use general profiling as our practice. At the point when the profile happens, it takes occasional depictions of the present condition of the call stack. At the point when we have our snapshot of information, we’re ready to see the blocks of code that show up over and over, and in this way a retrace may pose a possibility for performance enhancements. But to be completely sure, we’ll have to understand our procedure for taking these system framework measurements.  However, there’s an issue here.  Stack tracing has its own limitations. A cutting edge application involves numerous calculations, and hence, many call stacks. So how are we sensibly going to filter through and comprehend the mountains of information?


Stack Tracing Limitations

Once in a while you can’t ensure that you don’t get an error. For instance, on the off chance that you are utilizing a web driven application in your program, you can’t prevent the PC from losing its web association (for example, you can’t prevent the client from disengaging the PC’s system network). What happens now is the system library treats us with an exemption. In a perfect world, this is the point at which the engineers “catch” the special case and manage it. This implies that in the model with network association, you should attempt to revive the association or inform the client.  The engineer must remember while getting the exemption, that they captured the case they expected to, so they shouldn’t utilize wide-ranging proclamations like “Exception e” that would get all exemptions. This turns out to be a pivotal factor in stack retracing.  It doesn’t catch the special cases which had to be treated in a certain way, but were taken care of in a totally different manner.

Stack tracing tools are not the slightest bit foolproof in terms of monitoring applications. The contents are hard to compile, hard to comprehend and break down, and prone to exhaustive mistakes.


Synthetic Monitoring

Unlike stack trace tools, synthetic monitoring works by creating simulated user exchanges/transactions to your application which impersonates how an average user or client may walk through your application. It can be applied inside the firewall, inside the server space to guarantee that all the machines are running appropriately, or outside the firewall to give data about accessibility and execution from a worldwide point of view.  These server calls and testing contents become monitoring “instruments” by running at predefined frequencies, like every 5 minutes or every 3hrs.

This kind of monitoring can be fundamental to your business as it permits you to distinguish issues and survey whether your site or applications need tweaking before end clients are really impacted. Since this kind of checking isn’t reliant upon real web traffic, a web application or page can be monitored at any time, from anywhere, and monitoring agents can be set up before applications go into production. This is why a lot of developers lean towards synthetic monitoring, as it gives 24/7 visibility and provides the leverage to the organization to fix errors before customers stumble on to it.


Do You Need Synthetic Monitoring?

The least complex response to this question is that you need help to guarantee that your application or site is ready for action. But on a much more technical note, the genuine response to this inquiry goes a lot further than this. A quality monitoring agent doesn’t simply ping your site to ensure that it’s available.  Quality administrations will check area name framework records, transfer speed, database, as well as system availability, CPU load, drive storage, events, RAM, and other basic factors. While uptime and reaction time are unquestionably significant things to quantify, the dependability and consistency of your application or page are additionally vital and measurements and must be set up to screen for these things.

Additionally, just checking accessibility and uptime of your APIs and applications from within your firewall isn’t adequate when you are looking to provide a top-notch experience. Users can access your applications from anywhere in the world, from varying devices, browsers, and networks.  Synthetic monitoring permits you to imitate these business procedures or client exchanges, for example, signing in, searching for items, filling forms/surveys, adding things to shopping carts, sign-out process, etc., from various locations around the globe, and review their performance. You would then be able to analyze execution details among geographic locations and steps in the exchanges and begin to define your improvement plans.


Stack Trace and Synthetic Monitoring:  Conclusion

Synthetic monitoring takes an outside-in proactive approach to help discover issues before your clients do. In the event that the correct procedures are utilized, synthetic monitoring can give you the same view point of your end users and clients, not to mention how they’re performing – and whether clients will be happy with the experience.  This is not the case with stack tracing.  It is in no doubt a very reliable and competent analysis protocol, but it can only trace the steps of a failed event in preceding fashion. This brings us to a very firm understanding that stack tracing, combined with synthetic monitoring, can help tie together the complete the stack and provide powerful performance monitoring solution.  Try the full Dotcom-Monitor platform for free.


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