Dashcam v1: Finding bugs in a flash!

Dashcam has finally hit the v1.0 milestone!

If you’re a developer who works on UI in a remote or async environment, you’re going to love how easy Dashcam makes it to collaborate with your team.

Over the past year, we’ve shipped hundreds of product updates informed by the feedback of thousands of beta testers. Now developers just like you are using Dashcam to share their screens (and more!) every day.

Software bugs are an inevitable part of development. From pesky runtime errors to subtle logic flaws, tracking down and squashing bugs is a core part of delivering high-quality applications. But traditional debugging techniques often fall short when it comes to quickly reproducing and diagnosing some of the most complex issues. This is where creating a Dash with Dashcam’s instant replay shines: giving developers unparalleled visibility into application behavior and enabling them to rewind back to the exact moment a bug occurs.

The Ubiquity and Cost of Bugs

Bugs remain ubiquitous across all industries and technology stacks. By some estimates, developers spend 50% of their time simply identifying bugs. The total cost of debugging for companies worldwide runs into the billions annually.

From null pointer exceptions in Java to segfaults in C++, developers face a veritable zoo of bug species daily. Concurrency errors like race conditions and deadlocks are some of the trickiest to track down. Heisenbugs that disappear or alter behavior when debugging can be equally frustrating. And good old typos continue to be a leading source of pesky bugs.

The impact of bugs runs the gamut from minor annoyances to catastrophic outages. But regardless of severity, quickly finding and fixing bugs is crucial for delivering stable, performant software. Traditional debugging techniques, however, often fall painfully short.

The Limits of Traditional Debugging Approaches

Legacy debugging tools leave much to be desired when it comes to reproducing and diagnosing many categories of bugs. Stepping through code line-by-line is tedious and inefficient. Ephemeral bugs are difficult to reliably reproduce. Production errors lack local observability. And cryptic log statements fail to provide rich contextual insights.

The Drudgery of Step Debugging

The classic approach of stepping through code with breakpoint debugging provides only single-path visibility. This manual process is time-consuming and ineffective at exposing bugs unrelated to the current execution flow. Developers waste countless hours fruitlessly stepping through irrelevant code.

For example, a mobile app bug that only occurs on slow networks would never be observed when debugging on a developer’s high-speed WiFi. Without visibility into the app’s actual runtime behavior across real-world conditions, this network-dependent bug could easily slip into production.

The Difficulty of Reproducing Ephemeral Bugs

Bugs that only manifest under specific conditions can be enormously difficult to reproduce. Concurrency bugs like race conditions may only crop up occasionally based on thread timing. Memory leaks and bloated caches only arise after prolonged usage. And performance issues from slow endpoints only appear on large requests.

These ephemeral issues cannot be reliably reproduced by simply restarting the app and debugging from scratch. Without capturing the precise execution state leading up to the bug, developers waste huge amounts of time trying to recreate the exact circumstances. With Dashcam, you can see and recreate that state, quickly and precisely.

The Limits of Local Debugging

Debugging during development provides limited observability into how an app will actually behave in production. But the majority of impactful bugs only arise once real users access the app on real devices under real-world conditions.

Developers are coding blind without visibility into issues that exist exclusively in deployed environments. And with modern apps relying on scores of distributed services, reproducing bugs often requires tracing back across multiple systems.

Thanks to Dashcam, seeing is believing.

The Opacity of Cryptic Logs

Console statements and log files may hint at a bug’s general location but rarely provide adequate context. Log messages like “Null pointer exception in CacheManager” offer little actionable information to diagnose root causes.

Stack traces point to where an error occurred but don’t capture the preceding execution flows across components. And logs lack the rich visual context needed to fully inspect an app’s front-end state at the moment a bug occurred.

These constraints significantly slow down and complicate the debugging process. But what if developers could instantly find bugs by rewinding back to the precise instant they occur? This is the superpower provided by dashcams for developers.

The Dashcam Advantage for Debugging

Dashcams offer a whole new paradigm for debugging and finding bugs by recording videos of application execution.
We call this a Dash.

Instant replay capabilities let developers smoothly rewind back to any point of interest. And visual logs enrich traditional text logging with rich screenshots and dynamic videos of app behavior.

Tailored for developer workflows, Dashcam integrates directly into developer’s computers and enable greater productivity across the software lifecycle. Compared to traditional debugging, using instant replay, you are provided with unparalleled visibility into defects.

Instant Reproducibility Through Replay

The killer feature of Dashcam is the ability to instantly replay application execution. Developers can rewind smoothly frame-by-frame to the exact point a bug occurred, even if it was hours earlier.

For example, pinpointing the cause of an intermittent crash often requires examining the preceding user interactions. With replay, developers can retroactively “time travel” to watch the last few minutes before the crash and view each action leading up to the failure.

By preserving the precise execution state, dashcams enable reliably reproducing any captured issues, no matter how ephemeral. Finding and fixing bugs becomes vastly easier.

Rich Contextual Insights

In addition to on-demand replay, developers gain immediate visual clarity into bugs directly within their workflow with the addition of your browser’s network requests.

Dashcam tailored for development also offer advanced masking to obscure sensitive customer data. Developers benefit from comprehensive activity context without exposing personal user details.

Optimized for Developer Workflows

Purpose-built for software teams, Dashcam includes specialized tools to enhance developer productivity. Developers praise the time savings from replay-driven bug investigation. Teams experience up to 30% faster defect resolution by using Dashcam’s session replay.

Integrations with existing tools like Slack, Jira, and GitHub enable seamless collaboration, sharing, and documentation of bugs. Developers never have to leave their workflow.

Real-World Impact

Numerous accounts highlight bugs found in production that evaded detection during development.
For example, a leading e-commerce site used session replay to identify a cart calculation bug only present on Safari. By reviewing the recording leading up to the purchase, engineers quickly diagnosed the issue.

Across beta users, teams report identifying 3 times more defects through production recordings compared to traditional debugging.

Dashcams deliver tangible results by capturing bugs developers would otherwise miss. Recording real user sessions provides invaluable visibility compared to debugging simulations. The power of replay and visual logging lets teams squash bugs faster than ever.

Accelerate Debugging with Dashcam

Like cycling back through code with a debugger, Dashcam provides developers unprecedented visibility into application state at the moment bugs strike. Instant reproducibility enables tracking down even the most fleeting and ambiguous issues.

Try out Dashcam on your next project (it’s free) to experience the transformative power of rewinding directly to the source of bugs in real user sessions. Reach out for any questions or requests for more debugging content.

Happy bug hunting y’all!

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