Simple Code Execution Monitoring, built for developers.
Code Execution Monitoring helps you identify bugs and bottlenecks in your Symfony app before your customers do
Inspector is a code execution monitoring platform used by developers worldwide to discover issues with their applications before users do. This article will help you understand:
- Why monitoring is important
- What are some common monitoring tools
- When you should use a code execution monitoring tool
Why Monitoring Matters
Many developers first feel the need to monitor their applications when they start working on a medium to large project.
The reason is simple: when your software becomes complex or serves high-value customers, software bugs become expensive; doubly so when your customers find them! As a result, customers may rate you as unreliable and search for other alternatives.
Certainly, solving critical customer problems can generate significant business opportunities, but the more critical the problem is, the more you need to be ready for high customer expectations.
Monitoring is the best way for developers to avoid unexpected incidents and retain customers or contracts for as long as possible – which means stable income for your business over time.
Today it is not easy to navigate the world of monitoring. This is because there are so many different data types that can be used in so many ways.
Let's explore what can help.
What are monitoring tools?
Monitoring tools generally consist of two parts: the agent, and the analytics platform.
The agent is a software package developers install in their servers or applications. Its goal is to collect relevant information about system behavior and performance.
Data is sent to the remote platform to be transformed and stored in order to generate visual charts that help developers easily understand what’s happening in their system. In addition, the platform should be able to send alerts to developers if something goes wrong. And do so in a convenient way.
Obviously, this is a simplistic description that could cover a lot of tools out there. If you search for monitoring solutions on Google, you’ll find many of them.
Most look like (or are sold as) application monitoring tools, but have nothing to do with application monitoring. These similarities can make it challenging to choose the right tool for your specific needs.
Let’s take a look at the best-known categories of tools.
Logging management tools
A logging management tool is often the first type developers approach when first looking for a monitoring solution. This is because monitoring application logs has been one of the dominant habits for developers who want information about what’s happening inside their applications. It has been so since the birth of software development.
When an application starts to scale (it runs on multiple servers, requires a complex architecture, high performance becomes crucial, and so on), you will soon realize that it is tough to extract relevant information from logs. And it’s also hard to monitor the impact of your code changes over time in terms of stability and resources consumption.
Back when the car was introduced, people wanted a faster horse because horses were what they were familiar with. Gradually they realized that a completely different tool was needed to take transportation to the next level—the car.
Uptime monitoring tools
Uptime monitoring tools can be described as a more sophisticated “ping.”
The primary purpose is simple: they ping your application endpoints from multiple regions to understand how well (or badly) it can be reached by users in different parts of the world.
These metrics help you understand how the cloud infrastructure works to serve your application to end-users (load balancer, CDN, network, and so on). They also help you become aware when some of these systems generate issues. However, they do not provide any information on what is going on inside your application.
For example, an application serves users worldwide, so external ping insights help you understand which regions suffer the highest latency. This obviously helps in making decisions about in which regions to upgrade resources in order to improve customer experiences.
The downside is that they monitor the external environment. So, if your application slows down, you will never know why.
Error tracking tools
These tools work as an exception trap and allow you to receive alerts when an error occurs during application execution.
In many cases, the information provided by exceptions is too basic to prevent system down times. For example, there is no feedback about performance, system load, CPU, memory, or other issues.
Furthermore, you don’t know if your application is in trouble until it explicitly fails. And we all try to prevent errors from being found by customers.
Thus, approaching more comprehensive monitoring seems to be difficult.
All-in-one Application Monitoring platforms
The best-known application monitoring platforms like Datadog, Dynatrace, NewRelic, AppDynamics, and others, provide logs, server metrics, uptime metrics, infrastructure insights, application metrics, unstructured events collection, and more.
It’s reasonable to assume that they target enterprise-class scenarios.
They require a lot of assistance and training or even a dedicated engineering team for configuration and maintenance. They also tend to be too complex and expensive for small to medium-sized teams.
And they need to be installed and configured at the server level.
Whether you’re using infrastructure automation tools or have external teams to take care of it, everything configured at the server level is out of the software development lifecycle, and developers tend to lose their autonomy.
This situation can cause constant email exchanges across teams to adjust configurations, customisations, and more. In the end, software developers almost always have the worst experience because they have no control over what resides in the infrastructure.
When to use Code Execution Monitoring tools
Code Execution Monitoring tools focus on the most essential thing for every developer - Code Execution.
Have you ever thought about what it would be like to watch your code running instead of just imagining it? This scenario is what a Code Execution Monitoring tool is designed to let you do.
This class of tools collects relevant information about application performance, errors, and trends and then gives you a visual representation of your application’s regular operation.
Inspector works specifically in this area. Watch the short video below for some sample functionality.
The idea behind Inspector is to create a “code-driven” monitoring environment specifically designed for software developers looking to avoid any daily server or infrastructure configuration.
Most developers prefer not to complicate their life with infrastructure management. Managing the IT infrastructure is a profession in itself. It requires many vertical skills to do with server environments, cyber security, scalability, and complicated technologies like Kubernetes.
As a software developer, you may have searched for code monitoring systems that are totally “code-driven” and stay as independent as possible from infrastructures, whether managed with automation platforms or under the control of teams outside your company.
Thanks to Inspector, you can make sure your application is working correctly. And that you’re consistently delivering a good customer experience even while making changes to it. You do so with a simple, lightweight software library that you install in your application like any other dependency.
Frameworks supported by Inspector
Automatic Process Discovery
A Code Execution Timeline
Visual Comparisons with a “Performance Distribution Chart”
As you can see it's a versatile tool. However, don’t just trust me.
For several months Inspector's CTO, Valerio Barbera, gave talks and solicited feedback at events in the Italian PHP community. He also discussed the issue extensively with other CTOs. On this page he collects reviews and comments from developers who have tried Inspector. You can also view several presentations he gave.
Try Inspector for free and as long as you want
To let everyone interested try this new solution, Inspector offers a free tier with up to 30,000 monthly transactions. And it’s not a limited trial. So you and your team can get familiar with Inspector without the pressure of a deadline.
I hope you will try and enjoy the Inspector experience.
If you found the article useful, please share it with others who could benefit from Inspector.
This article originally appeared on Inspector.dev and was written by Valerio Barbera. I have made slight edits to it to meet the standards and formatting of Symfony Station. All sponsored posts are for products we have vetted and stand behind. We either use them or would do so if they were applicable to this site.