Why is monitoring hybrid mobile applications so difficult?

Has your organization considered hybrid mobile applications frameworks to appease your developers and users?  It is important to compromise because there is a delicate balance between optimizing developers’ skills so your company can build applications for many mobile platforms (iOS, Android and Windows Phone) and between producing the most attractive and smooth applications possible. On top of that, having separate development teams for every mobile operating system is a huge headache. This is why many organizations tend to take the hybrid approach—at least for selected areas of their applications.

 

What is a hybrid mobile application?

Think about a small web browser embedded inside a mobile application. The developers code the application functionality using the same web technologies as they use for web sites, namely HTML5 and JavaScript. But unlike web sites, there is no need to wait for the content to load every time from the server. Instead, the static parts of the content are already located on the device, and only the dynamic parts need to load. This is why hybrid applications work faster than mobile web sites, but slower than real native apps. But hybrid technologies have some inherent advantages, including fast development and reuse of existing programmer’s skills. Many vendors also use standard A/B testing tools built for Web in their applications. Others use the flexibility to update their application rapidly, somewhat bypassing the application store’s rigorous acceptance tests. Most of the hybrid mobile applications are built using supporting tools, like HP’s own powerful hybrid development platform HP Anywhere.

 

What is mobile application monitoring?

Application monitoring collects data about how the application is behaving after it is has been released. In most cases, application owners will try to know the most used features, the performance of the application and it’s stability with regards to crashes and errors. These are the most important aspects to monitor, because it has been proven that any problem with these aspects will usually lead to user abandonment.

Mobile applications monitoring tools, like HP Mobile Application Monitoring, work to enable end-user measurements. This means that all measurements are taken from the user device, thus also taking into account delays coming from the cellular network. When users download an application from the application store, this application already contains the ability to report back these performance metrics. The metrics are sent to the server for processing and display to the user.

 

But why is monitoring applications built with hybrid technology so difficult?

Choosing the hybrid approach means that the application architecture is a mix between technologies: native code (Java for Android or Objective-C for iOS) and Web technologies (HTML5 and JavaScript). In hybrid applications, monitoring tools need to collect data from the web part running in the embedded browser in addition to the data collected from the native part. When we designed our new solution for Real User Mobile Monitoring, we noticed that all the tools available in the market have an inherent problem. This problem is that in order to collect data from the web part, the user needs to install another package on the server side (in addition to the mobile client side). This practice is cumbersome and many users refrain from such complex solutions – which also affects the complexity of future upgrades.

 

Effortless hybrid monitoring

The design criteria for our new solution for Real User Mobile Monitoring was to insist that it not require any additional configurations at the backend server. All the user needs to do is to use the client side solution we provide for the application, a process that literally takes five minutes. From this point, everything that happens in the application, be it at the native part or web part, is automatically monitored and reported!

 

Summary

The key points for selecting a solution for mobile application monitoring are ease of use and broad support for mobile technologies. But these points must not collide! Our new monitoring solution is able to support the common mobile technologies (Android and iOS) and support hybrid applications – all of this without compromising on the ease of use. No need to modify the server side code!

 

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