Rollbar Is Pretty Much Awesome

Stop. Just Stop. At work we use a rather old, homegrown, erratic error reporting system. Basically every error any site or system encounters gets emailed out to the developers mailing list. Everyone has nasty Exchange filters to dump thousands of emails into a PHP Crap folder; emails that are neither actionable nor assignable.

The filters never work perfectly and inevitably filter something they shouldn’t and suddenly all the business folk are breathing down your neck about why the site doesn’t work and you’re left scratching your head and muttering to yourself about how it works fine on my machine, dammit.

Life’s too precious for this.

So we started trying out a self-hosted instance of rollbar to help offload some of this chaos. Once we get fully rolling (haha get it?) we’ll be able to have the system automatically assign issues and only notify people who are actually responsible for the errant code.

Because we started evaluating it at work, I wanted to try it on one of my side projects to see how I liked it. I was rather pleased to discover it was free for low-use applications. 1

The installation could not possibly be any easier. Just add gem 'rollbar' to the Gemfile, then

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$ bundle install
$ rails gen rollbar [SERVER_API_KEY]
$ deploy

I honestly spent more time fidgeting around with my broken carefully constructed deploy script than I did on actually integrating the service. If you’re using a private repo and have no qualms against (gasp!) committing API keys, then its barely more than a one-liner.

I also added the ability to record deployments using Rollbar’s provided bash script. While blindly copy-pasting into a remote vim session, I managed to screw up the magic curl incantation. The Rollbar portal helpfully popped a notice that an API request had failed and gave me enough information to track it down. What a brilliant idea! Going out of their way to be helpful demonstrates a care and attention that reflects extremely well on the whole Rollbar team. Well done!

I’m really happy with the ease of installation and the feature set provided. If you slackers out there cause as many errors as I do, you should think about integrating something like this.


  1. Or large applications, if, like me, you are sufficiently excellent so as to not generate many errors.

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