One of the great parts about working on the Windows Phone product has been all of the companies we get to meet who can add value to the development experience for our mutual customers. One of those companies is PreEmptive Solutions, a long-time Microsoft partner. Their Dotfuscator application currently ships as a community edition in the box with Visual Studio 2010.
We on the Windows Phone team want to empower our developers to create amazing applications and games for their customers. Part of building those experiences is really understanding how customers are using your application. It also is very helpful to know how many customers are using your application. We had already noted that we would not have reporting available at launch for developers, so we felt it was important to ensure that developers could have a view into the uptake of their applications.
To solve this problem, we have partnered with PreEmptive Solutions to provide their Dotfuscator application, which includes Runtime Intelligence, for free, to all Windows Phone 7 developers from today through March 31, 2011. During this offer period, developers will have access to Dotfuscator for Windows Phone. This will allow developers to instrument their code, provide customer insight into their application usage, and gain access to app analytics via the Runtime Intelligence web service. As an added bonus, anyone who wishes to use Dotfuscator to obfuscate their XAPs has access to that functionality as well. This is a great solution for analytics for Windows Phone developers.
One of the most important reasons we are partnering with PreEmptive is because of the simplicity of their solution. Adding instrumentation to your Windows Phone application or game will take less than 10 minutes, and all of your data will be collected and stored for you by PreEmptive. Usage data is great, but the deep developer focus we have maintained during our development of this partnership has allowed us to surface another key benefit of the PreEmptive software: crash reports. These detailed crash reports are built into the Runtime Intelligence system and will give developers incredible insight into what is happening when things go wrong. There’s nothing worse than getting a bad review in the Marketplace for an app crashing, and not having an ability to understand what happened.
I always find examples work nicely when trying to explain things, so I wanted to touch on some ways in which you might use Dotfuscator for Windows Phone:
- How many people have installed my app? – With this solution, and using the ANID as a hash key, you can instrument you app and track the number of unique LiveIDs which have installed your application.
- How often is my app run? – Did you want to know the run time of your app? What about how long specific functions take to run? All of that data can be collected by Dotfuscator.
- What features are customers using the most? – With your application properly instrumented, you will be able to determine where your customers are spending their time, and for how long.
- What’s the performance of my app on customers’ handsets? – Are you concerned about how your app is performing in the field? With instrumentation, you can analyze how the app performs on different handset models on different networks.
It’s important to note that the analytics data provided by Dotfuscator for Windows Phone is for your information only, and will not be used for auditing purposes when payout reporting is activated at the App Hub portal.
To get started, simply visit PreEmptive’s site, get a Runtime Intelligence account, and download the code. If you want to see a nice, quick tutorial, watch this video. If you want a deeper dive, here is a Channel9 video exploring Dotfuscator.
All initial support queries should be posted to the App Hub forums, where we have professional support engineers answering questions.
Again, Microsoft is partnering with PreEmptive to provide Dotfuscator for Windows Phone for free to developers through March 31st, 2011. Both companies are committed to working to ensure that come March 2011, there is an affordable (read: less than $10 per month) service for developers who want access to rich and deep customer insight. We are extremely excited by this partnership and what it means for our developer community.