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Stupid Error Messages

Very often I see some stupid error messages as a (power-)user. I do not know if this is because of lazy developers or managers not having enough focus on more useful error messages.

If the error messages would be more clear it would help me as a power-user to fix my problems faster and fix it possibly myself instead of asking questions or even open support cases.

That would also safe costs on the support service side if end-users would be enabled to fix their problems themself. If this is what software vendors really want...

Sometimes strace helps to understand the problem. But why do I need external tools to do the job?

Some examples

Bad: Could not add A-record.

Better: Could not add A-record because it already exists.

Bad: Error 2.

OK I can help myself with:

perror 2
OS error code   2:  No such file or directory

but still bad.

Better: No such file or directory. File I was looking for: /tmp/doesnotexist.txt

Unique Error Code Policy

FromDual has introduced a unique error code policy: Whenever you get an error code of any FromDual product we can tell you within seconds in which product at what place in the code (function) you hit the error (at least in theory and in 98% in practice).

grep -r '3170' *
focmm/lib/                     $rc = 3170;

Our system is not perfect and could be done better. But this concept has evolved over time and was not there from the beginning. Possibly today we would make it a bit more sophisticated. For example: Error Codes can be reused (in the same product) if not needed any more. This causes the problem that we also need to know the version of the product to match the error number exactly to the code. Or in some projects we are running soon out of error numbers because we have chosen a too small range. 1000 error numbers is NOT enough for medium size products.

I think Microsoft has a similar concept?

Some developers tend to just rise stack traces. Java developers are specialists in this. This is completely useless for the (power-)user because most of them do not know what to do with a stack trace and they do not really see the real problem because of all the stack trace noise in the error log file. So the real information is overlooked. And information filtering is not everybody's strength...

Possibly I will add here some more examples in the future...

More examples

VPN GUI: Your computer's security is unsatisfactory. You computer does not meet the following security requirements. Please follow the instructions below to fix these problems. When you are done click Try Again. 1. External User, Reasons: Required process not found. Required file not found.

This example is from an expensive software of a big Enterprise Security Company. And the install instruction was also bad. When it would tell us at least which process and/or which file was not found it would already be a little help.

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