How to Set Up Airbrake Error Monitoring for Your JavaScript App

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We’re all very careful about testing our code before putting it out into a production environment, right? We use test-driven development or build out elegant suites of unit tests, functional tests, and integration tests. We run our products through all the likely environments where it may be deployed repeatedly every time we make a change to our code. We test every possible path a user could follow on every conceivable browser.

Right?

Well, ok, none of us is perfect. But at least our users are always diligent about reporting every error they encounter, and providing detailed information about exactly how to reproduce those errors so they’re easy to track down and fix.

Right?

Yeah, I didn’t think so.

Error Monitoring to the Rescue!

Thankfully there are services out there to help us diagnose and resolve issues that may have slipped through the infinitesimal cracks in our diligent quality testing procedures.

I’m talking about remote error monitoring services. If you haven’t heard of them before, remote error monitoring services can track and report on actual errors that users encounter in real time as they happen, before the user even has a chance to file a vague or misleading bug report.

In addition, they can provide you with a range of useful details about how the error came about: what browser version the user was running, what account was logged in, what operating system was being used, any session data, a backtrace of the error itself, as well as any custom tags you might have inserted into your code to help identify issues.

Getting Started With Error Monitoring

There are a number of services and options in the market, but a good comprehensive one is Airbrake.io. They’ve been around for a long time in internet years, so you may remember them as Hoptoad back before they changed their name in 2011.

Airbrake also supports a very broad range of back-end and front end languages and environments from Ruby and PHP to .NET and Node.js. They also offer native integration with most of the popular code management and deployment services such as GitHib, JIRA, Bitbucket, and Slack. It’s likely that whatever you’re working with, they have the tools you need to get started quickly and easily. Their reporting interface is also clean and easy to navigate, so you can start generating actionable information from your deployed production code quickly.

Implementing the Airbrake.io code into your product is straightforward. To get started, you can create an account at Airbrake.io that’s free for the first 14 days while you kick the tires, with no credit card required during the trial period.

When you create your first project, you’ll be provided with a range of options with pre-written integration code in over 20 languages. As an example, let’s say we want to use JavaScript end-to-end, and have an Express based Node.js api service on the back end.

Monitoring an Express App

Let’s set up a quick example to show how easy integrating error monitoring with Airbrake can be. Assuming we already have node installed, in the terminal we can create a simple Express app to monitor using the Express Generator, which we can install with yarn or npm:

yarn global add express-generator

We can then run it to create a bare-bones Express app:

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Source: Sitepoint