Windows Phone: debugging crashes in a released app
Mood: content
Posted on 2013-01-19 18:45:00
Tags: windowsphone wpdev
Words: 415

Unfortunately, bugs are a fact of life, and your app will probably crash occasionally in the wild. But, there are a few nifty tools to help you debug them after the fact.

I wrote about Little Watson a while ago, and while it's helpful, it does require the user to send in a report. Microsoft provides data in the Windows Phone Dev Center that doesn't require the user to do anything - here's how to use it!

Step 1: Get the data
Log in to the Windows Phone Dev Center and go to the Dashboard. At the bottom of the page there's a "Highlights" section that shows app downloads - click on the little arrows at the bottom to see crash count statistics:

(click for full image)

For the app you're interested in, click on the number next to it - in this case we're going to be looking at FlightPredictor.

Now you'll see a screen like this:

(click for full image)
Click on "Export stack traces" - this will download and open an Excel file with the crash data.

Step 2: Analyze the data

You should see something like this:

Go ahead and click the "Enable Editing" button at the top.

Most columns you see should be pretty self-explanatory. Note that "Mango" is OS 7.5 and "Apollo" is 8.0. The call stacks are grouped together - you can see in my example that the top row has 2 crashes, so it's the most common one.

For this crash the problem function is "Unknown", which isn't terribly helpful. So let's look at the full stack trace - move over to that cell and press F2 to see it (and press Up to get to the top of the text). And we see:

So we can see the most recent call in the stack is FlightPredictor.Model.Flight.UpdateCalculatedValues(), and hopefully the call stack will help you track down why the app is crashing.

I tried to use the offset to find what line of code the crash is happening on, but I couldn't make it match up with IL offsets or native offsets (see this MSDN thread). I'll update this post if I find out how to make it work.


See all my Windows Phone development posts.

I'm planning on writing more posts about Windows Phone development - what would you like to hear about? Reply here, on twitter at @gregstoll, or by email at


Interested in developing for Windows Phone? I'm the Nokia Developer Ambassador for Austin - drop me a line at!

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