Saturday, January 24, 2009

Total Rant: On good error-handling in shipped code.

Could someone, somewhere, PUHLEASE make it easy on me when I hit a bug, for heaven's sake?

Is it my responsibility, as a user, to Google the error code, sleuth through overburdened help & FAQ forums, post a question, wait for an answer, and otherwise spend minutes or hours of my precious and scarce time on a problem that's not mine to fix?

Ravelry has it right. When there's a problem, a friendly little page appears containing Bob, the official Rav mascot, that says (paraphrased, as I can't find an error right now to quote it):

Doh! We've been notified, and we'll fix this as fast as we can. Thanks!

Casey (the well-loved code monkey behind the wonder that is Ravelry) is automatically emailed each and every time there's a problem. Knowing something of Casey's coding practices and design ethics, I rest assured that those automatic emails contain all of the info necessary for him to fix the problem.

I'm so terribly tired of bug handling being left to the end user. It's time for the code guys (I'm talking to you, Blogger) to take responsibility and automate the process so the rest of us aren't left without what we need from the service/product, and a burden to go figure it out ourselves.


Ann Agent said...

SIGH, I too am stumped by a coding error on my blogspot page. Its partly my fault, but I can't figure out how to fix it!!!!

I would love a more user-friendly help desk for Google, Yahoo had lastly ACER -- never, never buy one of their laptops!!!

Casey said...

(Apologies for commenting on an older post - I just bumped into it)

Thanks for the compliment. I actually can't take much credit - we use a nice little webapp called Hoptoad to collect and notify us of application errors. I confess that there are some bugs which linger for a while before they are fixed but it is really nice that I can easily and quickly spot and correct big problems - things that are damaging or things that are affecting many users.

Annalea said...

No apologies necessary. I love comments, whichever post engenders them. :o) Thanks so much for taking the time to write something. How you catch and track errors doesn't matter--it's that you're actually DOING it that's so nice. Google could use Hoptoad too, but they don't.

You're very welcome!

(And I do hope you get to see this note someday, as Blogger won't let me email you.)