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Last year we announced a program to provide the PreEmptive Solutions Runtime Analytics to Windows Phone developers free of charge. When it was first announced, the duration of the program was set to expire in April of this year. Due to the overwhelming response from the #wp7dev community, we are happy to announce that we are extending our agreement with PreEmptive Solutions to provide Runtime Intelligence for Windows Phone. To give comfort, we promise to give 60 days notice to all developers if this program will be coming to an end.
Analytics is an extremely important part of any mobile application release, and we want to encourage all of our developers to take advantage of the information they can glean about their customers from data extracted from Runtime Intelligence.
It sounds like most of the #wp7dev community already know the value of analytics. 3,000 of you have registered for the tool, and there are over 1,200 apps in the marketplace running with analytics. If you aren’t sure about whether or not the smart money is on analytics, consider this: of the top 100 apps in the Marketplace, 55% of them are running Runtime Intelligence, as are 70% of the top 50 apps.
Speaking of usage, one developer has so much data coming back from his multiple apps that they crossed 10 million messages sent back to the PreEmptive servers. Another developer has 129 applications instrumented.
What sorts of problems are developers solving with instrumentation? Here are a few for you to think about:
· Understanding the user settings and preferences across your application, coupled with any search strings, to provide better defaults
· Understanding the causes of crashes through the exception trapping
· Understanding the key features for your app to better target the split between Trail and Paid
· Understanding where best to place ad units in your app to increase click-thru and yields
I am sure that there are others, but these are a few to get you started. If you haven’t already grabbed a copy, head over to the PreEmtpive Solutions site to learn more.
I still have a big problem with this being "free for now". I don't like this bait-and-switch option. Give me an analytics framework that's built into the platform and create.msdn.com that I can rely on, and let the third parties differenciate themselves with more indepth analysis tools. At at the VERY least promise me that I can use this as long as I want. My app is going to be up there for a lot longer tha 60 days, and pulling out that analytics framework and resubmitting because we can't use it for free any longer is a pain in the a**.
@Morten I have to admit I wonder the same thing. My main concern is what happens if it is no longer free? will this affect the stability of my app because the service can no longer be used. I guess one way you could limit the changes needed if your analytics provider changes is to wrap all the analytics calls into some sort of logger class, that way only the one class changes. In fact i think i'll do this.
To be clear - THERE IS NO PLANNED DATE TO SHUT THIS SERVICE DOWN or to turn it into a paid service- but, no service is perpetual (software licenses can be defined as perpetual because they are offered as a legal right not an actual service).
THEREFORE, to account for the reality of managed services and to be 100% transparent (that's the irony here from my perspective - its why we are communicating all of this rather than simply leaving it ambiguous) the service is being offered in the following manner...
1) there are no fees for use of this service (EVER) - the only question is how long will this service be offered - 6 months, 18 months, or 18 years...
2) IF/WHEN the ongoing service does go through some material change (perhaps it is replaced with a better one or perhaps it is rendered obsolete, or perhaps the current relationship between PreEmptive and Microsoft changes), we will not surprise you - we will give you (at least) 60 days' notice.
3) IF something like what is outlined in point 2 above occurs,
- your apps that are running using this service will CONTINUE to run with no change in the user's experience(this service will NEVER force a developer to upgrade)
- users of the service will have (AT LEAST) AN ADDITIONAL 30 days to access and download any data (it is your data after all)
In terms of "pulling out the framework" - there are no changes required to your code to use this service - it is injected post-compile - this is a material difference between Runtime Intelligence and alternatives that ARE painful to remove (we have some users that actually run multiple analytics services because it was too hard to pull older ones out). To stop using RI, you take one LESS step in your build process, there is nothing else to be done.
Given how often devs probably will want to upgrade their apps anyhow (to keep them competitive, to take advantage of new platform capabilities, to improve quality), this seems (to me at least) to offer an approach that really does not demand any kind of "leap of faith". ...And given the fact that the service (uniquely) includes
* exception reporting
* custom data capture
* system profiling
* obfuscation (optional of course)
...we believe that the immediate value far outweighs any marginal risk stemming from scenarios that may or may not come to pass.
Lastly, let me (preemptively) apologize if this post reads as being a little too strident - i don't drink the cool-aid, i am the cool-aid - i really believe in this technology and i know that it is helping devs right now (i certainly use it in my own personal WP7 app and we are working with scores of (serious) developers who feel the same way). If this service is not a good fit for a particular developer's needs - i can certainly accept that - but it is frustrating to me personally when developers shy away from the service because they worry about some "bait and switch" scenario. Everyone loses then.
@Sebastian, Thats understandable that its just a legal thing. You mentioned that it is Post Compile that it is injected, If this is the case can we still give the user the option to send anonymous data?
Brandon, I appreciate the hard work and effort that you and the whole team have put forward in making the developers feel like a part of a great ecosystem. Some of us, however, have been left out in the cold. No mistake, we haven't been left out by Microsoft, but by Verizon.
I personally am unemployed, so cannot afford to go out and buy a phone that I'm not going to be able to use effectively, so I'm stuck on Verizon for now. I saw a tweet that you sent saying that any developer who reaches out would be given a phone to develop with, and I replied to that tweet, and additionally have sent you a couple emails. I can only assume that given the lack of response, combined with the good faith I've seen from you, that my emails must have been caught in a spam folder, and my tweet went unnoticed due to (I'm guessing) the position you're in you get a lot of tweets.
I've been working on an app, and had signed up for Hackathon in Atlanta that took place two nights ago, so I needed a phone to test with before I could submit my app. I went to ATT and ported to them, knowing that their coverage is not sufficient for my needs, but with the knowledge that I would be porting back to Verizon to avoid early termination fees, in a short time. But that would again leave me without a phone. I had hoped to win one at Hackathon. There were to be 30 given away that night for people who would commit to having two apps in the marketplace by end of June. I'm ready for that commitment.
There were also to be 50 phones given away to the first 50 people at the event to submit an app (combined potential to win two phones, we were told at the event). I submitted my app yesterday, less than 24 hours after the event. However, when I went to the link to register for that event, the event code on my event reminder email was invalid. I submitted using Tech1, however the site doesn't say anything about winning a phone. It is a site to get advertisement for your app. What I need right now is a device, though.
I have embraced this platform even though I have had to do so without a phone to work with. I've been telling people about Windows Phone since the first time I saw one, at the launch of VS 2010 in Atlanta last year, and in fact my wife tells me that Microsoft should be paying me for selling their platform. I have developed and submitted one app, though I am going to have to return my phone to ATT and will be left without a device to test with. And I'm planning to have another one started for App Garage at the Alpharetta office tomorrow. I'm no pro developer - I've been an IT generalist, (but I have written a several apps in VB on Win CE, PocketPC4, WM5 in a factory), but taught myself C# to do this since I'm now out of a job. If I'm one of the first fifty from Monday night's Hackathon, great - I'd like to know how to get my phone. If I'm one of the 15 remaining who can commit to two apps by June 30, great - I'd like to know how to get that phone. If not, I'm good with that - I'm not looking for a handout, just what was promised. I did go and buy a phone from ATT knowing I'd have to switch back, because it gave me the opportunity to win a phone Monday by finishing my app. If you can help out by showing me where to register for what I believe I probably qualified for, I'd greatly appreciate it.
I'm sorry that this isn't the best place to post this comment, but I'm not sure where else to contact you.
@nitro52 sorry - i just saw your comment today. First, the data that is collected using default injection settings does not generate PII - what i mean by "default settings" is the scenario where the developer has not specifically configured the instrumentation service to grab custom data inside their app that they have already stored somewhere (note that if/when the ANID is sent up, we actually hash the value on the phone before sending it up over SSL).
But... if the user does not want to send ANYTHING up and/or they want to send ONLY regular usage data OR only exception reports, Runtime Intelligence includes a property that it checks at runtime that can be set by the app for "opt-out" or "opt-in" - if the property is not explicitly set to "opt-in" nothing is collected (and obviously nothing is sent).
* RI only collects what developers specifically request (no additional info is captured in background).
* An inexperienced developer (or one in a hurry) using only the automated session and feature tracking features will not collect PII data accidentally.
* RI can/will never collect data that the application itself does not already have permission to access, e.g. location, ANID, ...
* RI makes it as easy for a user to opt-out as it makes it easy for a developer to instrument their app.
* All data sent over the wire can be SSL encrypted (it is the default but can be turned off for debugging and other use cases)
We take protecting user security and privacy very seriously (as we have always done protecting developer IP) and i hope that the features and patterns that i have outlined here reflect that commitment. Thanks for the great question.
@ Sebastian Value privacy and security more with Windows Phone than on any other MS platform. Microsoft has an opportunity here to quickly reverse the fading perception that Google is looking out for the best interests of the userbase rather than the company. Show a new interest in the customer that has never been seen before and WP7 will rapidly gain market share. Analytics must be designed to be failsafe and should never be outed in the media as having compromised the security, privacy and rights of the users.
Make us proud that we develop for the Microsoft WP7.
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