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Error handling module

Hi guys.

At now I am involved into one interesting project. It is a web service.
Every application has bugs and it is not a secret :)
But what is the best way to handle them? I think that the good idea is to show an error message with ErrorID, with appologies and etc (and of course to log all of this).
So client could notify us if he is getting troubles and provide ErrorID.

The other way is to show nothing when error occurs, log it, and for example redirect client to home page or kind of.

What do you think about it? Any experience or good articles/examples?

Thank you.
Andrew Dashin Send private email
Wednesday, August 16, 2006
Be transparent.

If it crashes, tell the user it crashed. Offer them the option to one-click phone home the bug to your company (with a field for email or some other way to contact them if you have a solution already).

Two idioms to follow:
1. Don't phone home without giving the user some way to reject it.
2. Don't try to hide the fact that an uncorrectable error occured: Tell the user. Now, if you can still 'recover' from this, you may not want to make it halt, but rather just continue on and don't go through the error handling.
Josh McFarlane Send private email
Wednesday, August 16, 2006
Buy a FogCreek hosting package (pretty cheap for the smaller packages).

Then setup your package to send the report to your FogCreek system.  Now you have all the information automatically logged, plus a way to track your bugs (and fixes).

And you can even setup FogCreek to notify users if there is a fix or solution available.  It doesn't just "mass email" people, it sends a response back when they report a bug.

Don't rely on the user to contact you.  They rarely will.  Most folks will click "OK" and try again.  Or uninstall your software and demand a refund.
Eric D. Burdo Send private email
Wednesday, August 16, 2006
Thank you.

And what about look'n'feel of error message? Have you any good examples what should it look like?
I do not want make user afraid to death when the error message arrives.
Andrew Dashin Send private email
Wednesday, August 16, 2006
I show a friendly error message; nothing specific.  Just, "this application had an error" kind of thing.  I also say that our staff have been notified about the problem and we will be working to fix it.  The error handling code automatically emails us all these errors.
Almost H. Anonymous Send private email
Wednesday, August 16, 2006
"The error handling code automatically emails us all these errors."

Is the user warned about this before? I believe that the user should always be warned about these kind of actions and as someone else has pointed out, given the possibility of cancel it.
I for once never allow any software to send emails if I am not warned first-hand. A matter of principle.
António Louro Send private email
Thursday, August 17, 2006
Depends on the application.

If it is web based, then just do it automatically.  If it is desktop, then you could ask.

But you don't need to email.  You don't even need the customers email address (although it is nice if they want feedback).

FogCreek transmits it via the web.  No email required.  Otehr systems are similar.

As to the message?  Yeah, something like "an error has occurred".

Then have two buttons "notify" and "don't notify" (avoid the words "send" or "email").  Make the Notify the default.  People are more like to send you the reports if you don't require any info from them (Joel has a nice sample screen on the FogCreek site).
Eric D. Burdo Send private email
Thursday, August 17, 2006

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