There were many announcements at Connect(): 2015 about Visual Studio Online. First and foremost, the name change to better reflect what developers were to expect when going there. Visual Studio Online is now called Visual Studio Team Services (long live VSTS). DevOps was a big part of the two day event and VSTS is a big part of DevOps.
In his presentation, Microsoft Technical Fellow, Brian Harry announced,
“a little over a year ago, we announced a beginning of a journey, which was to open up team foundation server and visual studio online with web standards using rest, oauth, and services hooks”
This led to the announcement at Connect(): 2015 of Visual Studio Team Services extensions. Extensions enable you to create first-class integration experiences within Visual Studio Team Services. Anyone can build extensions and make them available to the public. If you want to build one yourself, you can check out how to do that here.
You can find them if you sign on to your VSTS account and click on the store icon in the upper right of the screen.
HockeyApp is one of those extensions. But before we move forward, lets talk about the elephant in the room. HockeyApp has nothing to do with Hockey so what’s with the name? (Come on, I know you are wondering) Well, if you dig around in the support pages for HockeyApp you can find the answer, and it makes sense once you read it.
Our product started as an open-source project named Hockey which allowed you to install iOS beta apps on your iPhone. Apple calls this installation process (outside the App Store) ad hoc distribution. The name Hockey was a word play on the Hoc in ad hoc distribution and the word key. When we launched the HockeyApp, the open-source project had already gained traction in the community, so we kept the name and added App at the end.
So when Brian Harry made the announcement about acquiring HockeyApp almost a year ago, their goal was to integrate HockeyApp into Application Insights, which allows you to detect issues, diagnose crashes, and track usage in your mobile apps and web apps on Azure, IIS, or J2EE. HockeyApp extends this and helps developers manage the process of developing apps for multiple platforms, specifically it specializes in these three key areas:
- Crash reporting. Fast and precise crash reporting with easy app integration, rich crash analysis and support for connecting directly to existing workflows and bug tracking systems.
- Distribution and feedback. Beta distribution and built-in user feedback system.
- Cross-platform. Support for iOS, Android, and Windows Phone provides a consistent developer experience across mobile devices
You can still use HockeyApp as a stand alone project, but what the announcement at Connect(): 2015 brought was an integration point so that you can manage the process in the same place you are tracking all the other aspects of your project, within VSTS. This gives you all the great crash reporting and feedback data right into your VSTS environment. Once you add the extension, you can then add a HockeyApp widget to your dashboard.
What this allows you to do, among other things, is integrate with your bug reports. When a bug request is filed, while you are still inside VSTS you can launch HockeyApp to see if this is something that your users are experiencing already that you may not have noticed, or is it a new incident.
You can also dive into individual builds, communicate with your beta testers and turn requests/feedback from your users into work items with the click of a button all within the confines of VSTS. This is a great move forward for continuous integration and testing for developers using Visual Studio Team Services.
If you wanted to try this out for yourself, first, you need to sign up on Visual Studio Team Services. Its free for individuals or teams up to 5. Then sign up for HockeyApp here. http://hockeyapp.net/pricing/ your first two apps are free.