NSExceptionKt

A Kotlin Multiplatform Library to improve crash reports on Apple platforms.

Installation

Checkout the implementation specific READMEs for usage and installation details:

Why this library?

If you have been developing applications for Apple platforms with Kotlin Native, then you have likely encountered crashes like the following:

Function doesn't have or inherit @Throws annotation and thus exception isn't propagated from Kotlin to Objective-C/Swift as NSError.
It is considered unexpected and unhandled instead. Program will be terminated.
Uncaught Kotlin exception: com.rickclephas.myapplication.Platform.TestException: Test exception 2
    at 0   iosApp                              0x1020e88e7        kfun:kotlin.Exception#<init>(kotlin.String?;kotlin.Throwable?){} + 119 
    at 1   iosApp                              0x1020e8b1b        kfun:kotlin.RuntimeException#<init>(kotlin.String?;kotlin.Throwable?){} + 119 
    at 2   iosApp                              0x1020e8eff        kfun:kotlin.IllegalArgumentException#<init>(kotlin.String?;kotlin.Throwable?){} + 119 
    at 3   iosApp                              0x1020d3273        kfun:com.rickclephas.myapplication.Platform.TestException#<init>(kotlin.String?;kotlin.Throwable?){} + 119 
    ... and 38 more stack frames
Caused by: kotlin.IllegalArgumentException: Test exception 1
    at 0   iosApp                              0x1020ee457        kfun:kotlin.Throwable#<init>(kotlin.String?){} + 95 
    at 1   iosApp                              0x1020e884b        kfun:kotlin.Exception#<init>(kotlin.String?){} + 91 
    at 2   iosApp                              0x1020e8a7f        kfun:kotlin.RuntimeException#<init>(kotlin.String?){} + 91 
    at 3   iosApp                              0x1020e8e63        kfun:kotlin.IllegalArgumentException#<init>(kotlin.String?){} + 91
    ... and 39 more stack frames

So far so good. You fix the crash and all is well. But what happens when such a crash occurs in production?! Well, just like the above message said, the program will be terminated. And that is probably what you want anyway, so you open your favorite crash reporting tool and…:

Exception Type: EXC_CRASH (SIGABRT)
Crashed Thread: 0

Thread 0 Crashed:
0   libsystem_kernel.dylib          0x3980b2e60         __pthread_kill
1   libsystem_pthread.dylib         0x39815b3bc         pthread_kill
2   libsystem_c.dylib               0x30018f3f4         abort
3   iosApp                          0x20230fc2c         konan::abort
4   iosApp                          0x20231dca0         (anonymous namespace)::terminateWithUnhandledException::lambda::operator()
5   iosApp                          0x20231db64         (anonymous namespace)::lambda::operator()<T>
6   iosApp                          0x20231d924         (anonymous namespace)::terminateWithUnhandledException
7   iosApp                          0x20231d8ac         (anonymous namespace)::processUnhandledException
8   iosApp                          0x20231f73c         kotlin::ProcessUnhandledException
9   iosApp                          0x202322cb4         Kotlin_ObjCExport_trapOnUndeclaredException

The good news: you know your app crashed 🥸. The bad news: there is no useful stacktrace 🥹.

Fortunately we can log such unhandled exceptions in Kotlin before the app is terminated!

The challenges

While we can use any Objective-C crash reporting SDK we like, the concept of error handling is very different between Kotlin and ObjC/Swift.

On the Kotlin side all exceptions are unchecked, but on the Swift side they are all checked. That’s why we need that @Throws annotation, which tells Kotlin what exception types a function is expected to throw.

When you try to log your unhandled Exceptions, you’ll soon realise that most SDKs only expose APIs to log NSErrors. Unfortunately you can’t just map an Exception to a NSError, for one you would lose the stacktrace.

In the rare case that you can log your exception (e.g. with Crashlytics via the ExceptionModel class), the logged exception will be marked as non-fatal and the real crash is logged as well (resulting in two reports).

So we basically need to:

  • log a fatal error from Kotlin
  • attach a stacktrace to it
  • preferably attach the caused by exceptions (with their stacktrace)
  • prevent the Kotlin termination from being logged

Acknowledgments

Kermit by Touchlab and specifically @kpgalligan have been a great inspiration for this project.

I would also like to thank Firebase, Bugsnag and Sentry for publishing the sources of their SDKs. Without those sources projects like these wouldn’t exist.

GitHub

View Github