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You will also find a current list of contacts at the BIS Press Office. Create a direct debit to ensure that payment is made. I will try to make clear in this essay what constitutes a good error report.

Effective way to report errors

Anyone who has ever wrote softwares for use by the general public is likely to have at least one report." Report that says nothing ("It doesn't work!"); report that doesn't make sense; report that doesn't give enough information; report that gives false information. Report on issues that turn out to be errors by the users; report on issues that turn out to be errors by someone else's application; report on issues that turn out to be outages by the networks.

There is a good cause why tech support is considered a terrible task, and that cause is poor bugs reporting. But not all error messages are unpleasant: If I don't earn a livelihood, I take care of free code, and sometimes I get beautifully clear, useful and informational error notifications. I will try to make clear in this essays what constitutes a good error report.

In the ideal case, I want everyone in the whole wide globe to be able to read this paper before they report any error to anyone. Surely I would have liked anyone who reported mistakes to have seen them. Briefly, the goal of a fault report is to allow the developer to see the faulty programme in front of him.

When they can make it fall through, they will try to collect additional information until they know the cause. When they can't make it work, they have to ask you to collect this information for them. Try to make very clear in error messages what are real facts ("I was at the computer and that happened") and what are conjecture ("I think the issue could be this").

If you report an error, do so because you want the error to be corrected. There' s no point in insulting the coder or being intentionally unhelpful: it can be their guilt and their issue, and you may be right to be mad at them, but the error will be corrected quicker if you help them by providing all the information they need.

Also keep in mind that if the software is free, then the writer makes it available out of friendliness, so if too many folks are impolite to them, then they can stop being friendly. "Give the coder some credit for the fundamental intelligence: if the application really wouldn't have worked, they probably would have known.

You need information; to provide this information is the intent of a failure report. A lot of applications, especially free ones, release their lists of known errors. When you can find a listed of known errors, it is a good idea to read them to see if the error you just found is already known or not.

Well, if it's already known, it's probably not really a good idea to report it again, but if you think you have more information than the report in the error log, you should still get in touch with the developer. Certain coders have certain options as to how they like errors to be notified. However, if the application has its own sets of error report policies, please refer to them.

Should the policies supplied with the software conflict with the policies in this essays, please obey the policies supplied with the software! When you do not report a problem, but only ask for help using the software, you should indicate where you have already searched for the answers to your questions.

Thus the developer will know where to find the answers he expects, so he can use the manual more easily. "One of the best ways to report an error is to show it to the coder. Put them in front of your computer, start their softwares and show what goes awry.

Allow them to observe how you boot the engine, how you run the program, how you interoperate with the program, and what the program does in reaction to your input. You know what to look for by intuition. Obviously, if the program does something obviously incorrect, it may have already detected something subtle incorrect in the past that could give them a hint.

You can ask them to guide you through the process so that they can replicate the bugs for themselves as often as they want. You could try to vary the process a few time to see if the issue arises only in one case or in a related one.

The most important thing is that the computer is looked at by the computer when things go sour. As soon as they can see the issue, they can usually tackle it from there and try to fix it. That' s the time when I can push a button on my application to someone in Russia, and they can just as easy write me a comment on it.

If he has a trouble with my software, he can't leave me in front of it while it is failing. When you need to report a mistake to a coder who cannot be present in person, the goal of the exercises is to allow him to replicate the issue.

They want the coder to run his own copy of the application, do the same things to him, and it fails in the same way. If they can see the issue occurring in front of them, they can handle it. In the case of a graphic programme, tell them what keys you pushed and in what order you depressed them.

When it is a programme that you run by entering a Command, show it exactly which one you entered. Provide the coder with all possible information. You will probably need to submit a copy of the downloaded document if the application is reading from a specific document. You probably can't copy this computer if the application is communicating with another computer over a LAN, but you can at least say what kind of computer it is and (if you can) what kind of programs it is using.

So, what goes awry? "If you give the coder a long history of input and action, and he starts his own copy of the application and nothing goes awry, you haven't given him enough information. You may have been misunderstanding what the programme is to do and you are both looking at exactly the same ad, but you think it is incorrect and they know it is correct.

You tell them why you think that what you saw is false; even better, tell them exactly what you were expecting to see. When you say "and then it went wrong", you omitted some very important information. When you have seen errors, tell the developer what they were accurately and meticulously.

It is at this point that the developer does not try to fix the issue, but only to find it. You need to know what went bad, and these fault reports are the hardest part of the computer to tell you. Note the bugs if you don't have another simple way to recall them, but it's not noteworthy that the application created an bug unless you can also report what the was.

Especially if the fault signal contains numbers, let the coder have these numbers. Figures in bug reports are there because the computer is too puzzled to report the bug in words, but it does its best to somehow get the important information.

In this phase, the developer performs effective investigative work. You don't know what just happen, and you can't get near enough to observe it yourself, so you're looking for evidence that might reveal it. Errors, unintelligible rows of numbers and inexplicable lags are just as important as a fingerprint at the point of origin.

When using Unix, the application may have created a kernel dock. Note also that the kernel contains a report about the full state of the program: all the " secret " that may be implicated (the application may have been processing a private mail or doing with sensitive data) may be there.

" You can do many things when an issue or bugs occurs. Lots of them aggravate the situation. None of these two men assisted in recovering their data, and between them they encrypted their hard drives to such an extend that no undelete utility in the entire universe would have been able to do so.

It is not well suited to the kind of issues that computer production produces. If something goes awry, stop doing it immediately. Once you are able to fix the issue, either by shutting down the affected application or by restarting the computer, it is good to try to make it do again.

Developers like issues they can replicate more than once. Lucky coders fix errors more quickly and effectively. "It' not just non-programmers who make poor error reporting. Several of the most serious error messages I've ever seen come from coders and even good coders. Once I worked with another developer who found errors in his own programming and tried to fix them.

"What went badly? Often he was mistaken. For a while we worked on finding out why a certain part of the application produced false information, and finally we discovered that it wasn't that we had been examining a perfect bit of coding for half an hour and that the real issue was somewhere else.

" You describe the symptom, the real pain and pain and the rash and fever, and you let the physician diagnose what the issue is and what he should do about it. Similarly, submitting a change to the troubleshooting source is a useful supplement to a troubleshooting report, but not a suitable replacement.

Do not invent additional information if a computer scientist asks you for it! Someone once told me about a mistake and I asked him to try a function that I knew wouldn't work. I asked him to try it because I wanted to know which of two different errors there would be.

To know which errormessage came back would give an important hint. It'?s okay to use your brains to help the coder. If your prints are incorrect, the developer should be thankful that you at least tried to make your job simpler. or you can make her much more complicated.

" Tell "intermittent error" to each and every computer engineer and see his face falling. Simplified issues are those where the implementation of a basic set of operations causes the outage. Programmers can then replicate these operations under carefully monitored test environments and observe exactly what is happening.

There will be applications that malfunction once a month, once a month or once a week, or never malfunction if you try them in front of the developer, but always malfunction when a time limit is approaching. Even if you can replicate the error but the computer maker can't, it could very well be that their computer and your computer are in some way different and this distinction causes the trouble.

Once I had a programme whose windows rolled up into a small sphere in the upper right hand part of the monitor and were sitting there sulking. Programmers will want to know everything you can find out about the issue. When it goes awry, when you do serious work, but not when you try to show it, it may be that it is long runtimes or large data sets that cause it to tip over.

Although it is only likely (such as "it tends to fail more often when Emacs is running"), it may not give immediate hints as to the cause of the issue, but it may help the engineer reproducing it. The most important thing is that the engineer wants to be sure whether it is a real intermediate error or a machine-specific error.

Many of these particulars vary depending on the application, but one thing you should definitely be prepared for is the release number. This is the number of the application itself and the number of the OS and probably the number of all other applications participating in the issue.

" In an error report, it is imperative to write clearly. So if the coder can' t say what you mean, you might as well not have said anything. I' m getting error messages from all over the globe. Generally, the error messages with excuses for their bad English are actually very clear and useful.

Every vague report comes from mother -tongue Englishmen who believe that I will be able to hear them, even if they do not try to be clear. You say too much, the engineer can disregard some of it. An error report I got was a singular phrase; each case I asked for more information, the journalist replied with another phrase.

It' not clear what the operator was trying to shut down. "This is longer and more repeated, but also more clear and less easily understood. Check the report yourself and see if you think it's clear. It is the first goal of a fault report to let the developer see the fault with his own eye.

When you cannot be with them so that it fails before them, give them detail directions so that they can let it failure for themselves. If the first goal does not work and the developer cannot see that it fails, the second goal of a bugs report is to describe what went awry.

Make a note of the errors, especially if they contain numbers. In any case, try to diagnosing the problem yourself if you think you can, but if you do, you should also report the symptom. Stand prepared to supply additional information when the coder needs it. It is not intended to be used for a particular programme.

Once you have accessed this page by following a hyperlink from the website for a particular application, do NOT submit any error messages for that application. Instead, go back to the page you came from to find out where you can report errors in the application. Please if you have any comment or critique about this item yourself, please email it to anakin@pobox.com.

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