Context Error Reporting

One of the biggest mistakes I see programmers make when writing an error message is to forget to include details about the context into the message.  The message effectively “assumes” that the reader knows the context, but that assumption is not always valid, and the error message can fail communicate. Continue reading

Error Message should be clear, plain, and direct

This post is about a real error message I received and puzzled through.  Luckily, because I was working with open source code, I was able to see a copy of the source, and only then did I understand what the message meant.  An error message should not require you to know and understand the source, in order to understand the message, and I think this is the root of the mistake that many programmers make. Continue reading

Usability Means Not Jumping Through Hoops

The image of being forced to jump through hoops is one of being required to take arbitrary actions in arbitrary orders just to satisfy some goals that are either unseen or at least not in the interest of the user. Some software is like that.  You have to perform functions that you don’t want to do, that you know you are going to get rid of, in order to satisfy some internal constraint of the software. Continue reading