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Free Web-Based Exception Reporting

ScuttleMonkey posted more than 9 years ago | from the interesting-concept-awaiting-execution dept.

Programming 145

Tsar writes "Promethean Personal Software (makers of Sherpa, a code generating tool for db apps) have quietly released ExceptionCollection, a free (as in beer) online service for developers using any SOAP-enabled environment. You sign up on the site, download their component, add three or four lines of code to your app, and any exceptions thrown by your users get logged at ExceptionCollection.com for your later perusal (the last 100 anyway). There are several options, like whether reporting requires user approval. Is this as cool as it looks, or a solution in search of a problem?"

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exceptions? don't use 'em (5, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#13555919)

I don't like exceptions because you have to catch them. Exception based coding is for amateurs.

Real professionals like me, who graduated at the top of his class from Rockhurst College in Kansas City, a top college - pass return codes around rather than do all that exception baloney.

And it is some big time BALONEY.

Re:exceptions? don't use 'em (5, Funny)

mysticwhiskey (569750) | more than 9 years ago | (#13555985)

And the exception's travelling far out-field, up, up , up! Yes, there's the AC, he's under it, almost a certain catch! NO! He doesn't catch it! What's this? He writing on post-it note! He hands it to the umpire... let's switch to the umpire-cam... and the result is... "Code -99 : Exception not caught, glove object not instantiated".

Re:exceptions? don't use 'em (1)

RabidMonkey (30447) | more than 9 years ago | (#13555991)

See, now, I read this and I go 'hey, I use return codes for everything I do' ... so I have to ask, what are the exceptions you speak of?

I'm not a programmer, I'm just a lowly admin type, so don't abuse me. I'm not up on my programming techniques. /dumb.

Re:exceptions? don't use 'em (5, Insightful)

Jeremy Singer (717636) | more than 9 years ago | (#13556129)

What if your code throws some exception you weren't expecting, even though you use return codes?
Examples:
1. Your code invokes a method on an object you didn't code, and it throws an exception. Wouldn't it be nice to know where the exception happened?
2. You made an unanticipated mistake! Your code throws a null pointer exception. Of course, if you are perfect, this never happens.

Re:exceptions? don't use 'em (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#13556157)

Wouldn't you be able to catch either of those in debug?

A more logical response to an exception than graceful handling is actual handling. If you run out of memory, what will you do? If you are receiving null pointers, how can you stop the sender from doing that? If your program is calling an unimplemented function, why isn't your linker catching it?

Exceptions are a way of making easily found bugs difficult to find. They move the instruction pointer far away from the actual error, and unroll the stackframe needlessly.

9 developers are registered (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#13556052)

An exceptional number of users.

Re:exceptions? don't use 'em (1)

mustafap (452510) | more than 9 years ago | (#13556114)

Return codes? bah. What do you think void was invented for?

Re:exceptions? don't use 'em (3, Funny)

Fred_A (10934) | more than 9 years ago | (#13556209)

Well, as long as people from Kansas use more SOAP, I'm all for it.

(ducks and runs)

not in kansas (1)

unity (1740) | more than 9 years ago | (#13556223)

Nice try, but Rockhurst College is in Kansas City, Missouri.

Re:not in kansas (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#13557280)

He said Kansas without saying if he was taking about the state so you can't realy correct him on this one. Afterall the implication was that he was taling about the same Kansas the poster was talking about.

Re: Good point, but... (1)

guided_by_coffee (862216) | more than 9 years ago | (#13556345)

The only problem is SEH (structured exception handling) or lack thereof. These are the access violations, pure virtual calls, etc... that people sometimes forget to catch. Even if your code and any third-party libs don't throw any c++ exceptions whatsoever, you always have the possibility for structure exceptions.

I agree though, personally don't like c++ exceptions, I like return codes much much better.

Hmm (4, Insightful)

elronxenu (117773) | more than 9 years ago | (#13555926)

Let me see if I have this straight. You run a SOAP server, and you use this vendor's library so that your users (who are presumably remote to you, but running your code) will report their exceptions to the vendor's database, which you can query later.

Why don't you just add one more function to your SOAP server and have your exception handler connect to that?

Re:Hmm (4, Insightful)

/ASCII (86998) | more than 9 years ago | (#13556050)

Adding this functionality to your code means creating the database, designing an interface to recieve exceptions, an administrative interface to view reported exceptions, setting up a clientside exception handler and a piece of code for marshalling the expception to the server.

Either that or just register with the site, download a small package and add four lines of code to your program.

So this saves you a few hous work, but costs you confidentiality, full control over the exception database and injects non-free code into your software.

Overall, a pretty louse tradeof.

Re:Hmm (4, Insightful)

swillden (191260) | more than 9 years ago | (#13556314)

Adding this functionality to your code means creating the database, designing an interface to recieve exceptions, an administrative interface to view reported exceptions, setting up a clientside exception handler and a piece of code for marshalling the expception to the server.

Or you could just write a top-level exception handler that e-mails the exception traces to you.

That's one option, but there are lots of other simple approaches that all start with "Catch the exception, put its text into a file and then...". Why complicate this with a database and a custom viewing interface?

Re:Hmm (2, Interesting)

should_be_linear (779431) | more than 9 years ago | (#13557144)

Or you could just write a top-level exception handler that e-mails the exception traces to you.
This is quite bad idea because you must have UI for setting up smtp, port (proxy?) username, password.... In the end, all most users would see when exception occures is "Unable to connect to SMTP sever x".

Re:Hmm (1)

bwalling (195998) | more than 9 years ago | (#13557195)

Or you could just write a top-level exception handler that e-mails the exception traces to you. That's one option, but there are lots of other simple approaches that all start with "Catch the exception, put its text into a file and then...". Why complicate this with a database and a custom viewing interface?

Volume and reporting. If your app is used enough, the volume is too great for email. It's nice to have some reporting features so that you can see troubled components or even troubled users.

Re:Hmm (1)

dj245 (732906) | more than 9 years ago | (#13556988)

Overall, a pretty louse tradeof.

So the code is full of lice then? Must be pretty buggy

Server down exception (1)

ingo23 (848315) | more than 9 years ago | (#13556492)

Theoretically the client can use the exception service to report errors that could not be caught on the server (server crash, network down).

Although I doubt that this will fly on an enterprise level project.

Re:Hmm (1)

b100dian (771163) | more than 9 years ago | (#13556662)

How do you know I have a soap server?
And what's a soap server anyway?

Because ... (2, Insightful)

PetoskeyGuy (648788) | more than 9 years ago | (#13557161)

You'll end up paying them for use of the patent anyway.
Copyright 2005, Promethean Personal Software

Patents pending.

FP (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#13555928)

FP!

first post (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#13555930)

Holy Shit never seen this...

first post! wooo!

Re:first post (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#13556001)

Maybe I shouldn't have spent a few minutes staring at the lack of comments wondering whether my world was going to fall apart.

Fucking thing won't let me post. I hate you all, I'm going to go kill myself now.

Re:first post (-1, Offtopic)

m4dm4n (888871) | more than 9 years ago | (#13556163)

Good

It's a solution, but not a complete one (2, Interesting)

ReformedExCon (897248) | more than 9 years ago | (#13555938)

There is a definite market for something like this. Knowing what exceptions your application is generating at runtime "in the wild" is very valuable to help debug and speed bug fixes.

The only problem is that it would be much more convenient if the exception were sent directly to the application makers instead of to some third party. Microsoft's error reporting system is somewhat like this, but I don't know anyone who actually sends in bug reports when an application crashes in XP. Likewise, Firefox used to have a quality feedback agent, but I never saw it pop up or notify me in any way. Maybe it is silently calling home?

If your users are your testers, it's very important that you get as much detailed information from any problems that arise as you can. Ideally these bugs would have been fixed before it ever hit the doors, but in this day and age of rapid development and short production cycles, it's sometimes better to give a working version to the customer and update it periodically.

Re:It's a solution, but not a complete one (1)

jalet (36114) | more than 9 years ago | (#13555982)

> The only problem is that it would be much more
> convenient if the exception were sent directly to
> the application makers instead of to some third
> party.

Exactly what I've done for one of my own software. This is REALLY wonderful. Each time the app crashes I (by default) receive an email with a copy to the local admin as configured by him.

Of course for privacy reasons, this is NOT activated by default. The admin MUST change the configuration file for the thing to be activated, and of course he CAN CHOOSE WHO will receive the complete exception traceback (including a dump of the environment and command line arguments).

This helped me fix bugs as soon as someone encountered them on multiple occasions.

Re:It's a solution, but not a complete one (4, Insightful)

ledow (319597) | more than 9 years ago | (#13556012)

"but I don't know anyone who actually sends in bug reports when an application crashes in XP"

There are several reasons for this... you almost never get any sort of reply, most users are practically incapable of writing a useful bug report (what were you doing, what did you click, etc.) and from what I see the majority of the information in an XP error report such as this is just some processor states and a few technical details.

I fail to see how anyone but a machine code professional would decode the XP reports, or how they would know what state the machine was in or why it crashed. The open-source project, OpenTTD, had this same feature for a while until it was scrapped when they realised that no-one could interpret the results or, if they could, it was far too complex, far too time-consuming and far too vague to the programmers.

I'm not saying you COULDN'T make the debug reports much better but then you're basically building every executable in a debug state, i.e. massively bloated and not as good performing, even if you go the highly-manual route and go through the code putting in printf's for each procedure entrance.

Bug reports are invaluable to a programmer but they need to be the right type. Spending 7 hours to trace the machine code route through a hex dump to find that someone was running it on a machine with a corrupt DLL is a massive waste of resources.

Getting experienced beta- and alpha- testers to submit a detailed, reproducible, bug where you can actually ask them to try patches out for you is amillion times more useful

Re:It's a solution, but not a complete one (4, Informative)

arkanes (521690) | more than 9 years ago | (#13556652)

The minidumps generated by XP are actually extremely powerful, assuming you've got good project management. You can load up the minidump in a debugger and it will restore the application state at the time of the crash. It can load the debugging info and symbol maps from local files, so you can still ship release binaries.

Re:It's a solution, but not a complete one (5, Informative)

Darkling-MHCN (222524) | more than 9 years ago | (#13557329)

I once had an issue with my compaq blue screening returning out of sleep mode, I'd installed every update on compaq's website and scoured the net for a solution.

One day out of sheer desparation I decided to send the report off to Microsoft and to my surprise it came back with a link to a support website giving very obscure step by step instructions which magically resolved my problem.

I don't often get exceptions in windows where I'm at a loss for an explanation as to the cause, but in future when I do I'll definitely be posting them to Microsoft.

Re:It's a solution, but not a complete one (1)

archeopterix (594938) | more than 9 years ago | (#13556951)

I'm not saying you COULDN'T make the debug reports much better but then you're basically building every executable in a debug state, i.e. massively bloated and not as good performing, even if you go the highly-manual route and go through the code putting in printf's for each procedure entrance.
Even a simple stack trace can be very useful, even from non-debug binaries. You don't need the symbol information in the distributed binary. The address->symbol map you can keep at home and merge it after the trace arrives.

Getting experienced beta- and alpha- testers to submit a detailed, reproducible, bug where you can actually ask them to try patches out for you is amillion times more useful
Collecting errors is no substitute for professional testing, but it can save you time on getting to bugs thay you don't test for, like your app crashing on Chinese version of Windows, with some DLLs replaced by the newest Office version.

Re:It's a solution, but not a complete one (1)

slimey_limey (655670) | more than 9 years ago | (#13557043)

Microsoft's internal "Watson" website is pretty cool. It automatically generates an annotated backtrace and identifies the specific function/DLL that the crash came from. The site also graphs hits/day on a specific fault bucket, DLL, routine, or project.

Re:It's a solution, but not a complete one (1)

Skjellifetti (561341) | more than 9 years ago | (#13556955)

I once called IBM to let them know about a bug in OS/2. The bug was from a third party app that used the serial drivers and caused an OS/2 equivalent of a BSOD. I'd figured out why this happened, found a work around, and thought I'd let IBM know about both the bug and the solution. The report was an altruistic attempt to help IBM make their software better for everyone. My mistake. The first words out of the IBM rep were "Your 90 days of free support start now."

Re:It's a solution, but not a complete one (1)

qray (805206) | more than 9 years ago | (#13557125)

When Netscape was using Talkback I found it quite useful. It provided stacks that often pinpointed errors. It was also good for identifying problems quickly. Reports were provided that identified top crashers. And there's little substitute for crashes that are hard to impossible to reproduce due to hardward and software variations.

For talkback or Win32 minidump you don't need to build debug either. You just build with symbols in a release mode and then strip off the symbols before you ship. Save those symbols and source together and it's pretty easy to get back. Talkback will actually take the debug symbols and map them back when the reports come in. For Win32 you can bring up the minidump in a debugger and view the source at the crash site as well as memory depending on how the mini dump was configured.

I've used Win32 crash info IP and stack data to reconstruct a crash. It's not all that difficult if you have the source to the build that crashed.

--
igtor ridrack midew widrop

Re:It's a solution, but not a complete one (1)

seweso (842331) | more than 9 years ago | (#13557328)

A friend of mine got a serious response after he sent the automated crash report to Microsoft. He got some message that he should update some driver. That is pretty freaky. The reaction was instantaneous so it is a computer-program for sure :D

[sarcasm]what a great idea![/sarcasm] (5, Insightful)

aranganath (638813) | more than 9 years ago | (#13555950)

I can't think of any reason NOT to send detailed information about where my application is broken and possibly exploitable to one centralized location that I maintain no control over.

I wonder what they do with their exceptions.

Re:[sarcasm]what a great idea![/sarcasm] (2, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#13556110)

Are you being sarcastic?

Re:[sarcasm]what a great idea![/sarcasm] (3, Funny)

flatface (611167) | more than 9 years ago | (#13557023)

[Informative]Yes he is.[/Informative]

Sounds like a marketing tool to me... (1, Troll)

Qui-Gon (62090) | more than 9 years ago | (#13555972)

We at Promethean Personal Software promise to never share your email address with another organization, but we reserve the right to send you one piece of email ("spam") about our products per week. You can opt out of the service at any time.

Sounds like I have to "pay" via annoying emails about products... Also, I'm not sure what the advantage is here over a normal bug tracking system. Automatic recording of the Exception message? Blah...

ouch... (1)

dumitrius (686430) | more than 9 years ago | (#13555987)

...sounds like a major security faux pas.

Only 100 exceptions? (4, Insightful)

CyricZ (887944) | more than 9 years ago | (#13555993)

It only allows the developer to see the last 100 exceptions? That might be fine and dandy for a site that only receives 100 hits per day. But when you're running an enterprise-grade site that gets 5 or 6 million hits on a slow day, 100 exceptions will basically be nothing. You could probably sit there and refresh the list of exceptions, getting a completely new list each time.

Re:Only 100 exceptions? (1)

RealityMogul (663835) | more than 9 years ago | (#13556030)

You're generating 5 to 6 million exceptions per day on an enterprise grade site? WOW, just... WOW

Re:Only 100 exceptions? (2, Informative)

CyricZ (887944) | more than 9 years ago | (#13556056)

No, ma'am. Had you read my post you'd see that I had said 5 or 6 million hits. Now consider that even just 1% of those 5 million hits throw an exception. That's 50 000 exceptions.

More realistically, even if just 0.1% of those 5 million hits throw an exception, you're looking at 5000 exceptions. That's 50 times the number of exceptions this site will list. A whole lot of data is being lost.

Re:Only 100 exceptions? (1)

niteblade (764045) | more than 9 years ago | (#13556101)

Could you even deal with 5000 exceptions a day? Personally I think 100 exceptions a day would keep most people busy and would probably capture most of the issues with an application (many would be dupes anyway)

Bob

Re:Only 100 exceptions? (1)

CyricZ (887944) | more than 9 years ago | (#13556140)

Of course it's better to know about them, even if they cannot all be dealt with immediately or there are duplicates.

If there are a certain exception is thrown perhaps 4500 times out of the 5000 exceptions, then perhaps that's the problem to deal with first.

Likewise, it may provide useful to know if a recent change is causing problems that weren't caught by the existing testing procedure. Knowing of such problems would allow the testing procedure to be fixed, as well as the code.

Re:Only 100 exceptions? (2, Insightful)

Pulse_Instance (698417) | more than 9 years ago | (#13556370)

If your getting anywhere that many exceptions a day it is high time that you invest some money in testing. Whether this testing be having the developers take some training in what testing actually is or having actual testers do the job, either option will save you time and money in the future.

Re:Only 100 exceptions? (1)

RealityMogul (663835) | more than 9 years ago | (#13556659)

I read your post right. I was being an ass.

But, chances are that if you're getting ANY exception on an enterprise web app, its going to be the same one over and over anyways.

Re:Only 100 exceptions? (2, Funny)

danhirsch (904306) | more than 9 years ago | (#13556766)

"No, ma'am. Had you read my post you'd see that I had said 5 or 6 million hits. Now consider that even just 1% of those 5 million hits throw an exception. That's 50 000 exceptions." If you are even throwing 5k execptions in a day on an ENTERPRISE site...you have more problems to deal with...like learning how to CODE a stable site. If you had a common enough exception for 5000...your going to get allot more than that. Even with 5000 exceptions bad bad things are happening. Fire and brimstone coming down from the skies. Rivers and seas boiling. Forty years of darkness. Earthquakes, volcanoes... The dead rising from the grave. Human sacrifice, dogs and cats living together - mass hysteria!

Re:Only 100 exceptions? (2, Insightful)

danhirsch (904306) | more than 9 years ago | (#13556870)

Further if an enterprise site is using a freebee exception tracking service...well..I really don't have to say anything do I.

Re:Only 100 exceptions? (4, Funny)

tgd (2822) | more than 9 years ago | (#13556768)

Do not put a link to this post on your resume.

Trust me.

Great for spyware (2, Interesting)

G4from128k (686170) | more than 9 years ago | (#13555996)

1. Collect data from unsuspecting users of your SOAP code.
2. Throw an "exception" containing said data.
3. Automatically harvest the data from ExceptionCollection.com.
4. Profit.

I wonder if these people have thought about the insecure/immoral/illegal ways this service could be used and have taken steps to prevent that.

Re:Great for spyware (1)

merpaholic (711729) | more than 9 years ago | (#13556412)

How is this any different from throwing an "exception" and just harvesting the data yourself. I fail to see how they are culpable in any way.

Patents Pending? (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#13555998)

What a bunch of pillow munching wannabees, I just patented the entire of the intarweb!

Are all .NET users that stupid?

A better solution (4, Informative)

jdh28 (19903) | more than 9 years ago | (#13556004)

This application [codeproject.com] is better in that it collects all the relevant information into a zip file (including a stack dump), and helps the user to e-mail it to you. It works in C/C++ (Windows only) and doesn't require any third party involvement.

We use it in a deployed product and it works very well.

john

Perhaps they should fix their site's HTML first.. (0, Troll)

CyricZ (887944) | more than 9 years ago | (#13556033)

It looks like their site has one HTML error.

http://validator.w3.org/check?uri=http://www.excep tioncollection.com [w3.org]

Indeed, I believe it is very important that a company selling a error-detection program take the care and time to ensure that their websites are standards-compliant. It shows that they're concerned with writing correct code, be it HTML or Perl or whatever.

Re:Perhaps they should fix their site's HTML first (1)

mysqlrocks (783488) | more than 9 years ago | (#13556136)

While I agree it's important to have valid HTML it appears the one error on their page is quite small. They used the "name" attribute which they should have left out since they already have an the "id" attribute on one of their forms. I think we can forgive them this one mistake.

Re:Perhaps they should fix their site's HTML first (1)

CyricZ (887944) | more than 9 years ago | (#13556169)

Indeed, it isn't a big mistake at all. Yet it's easily caught by just running it through the free W3C HTML validation service, and it's very easily fixed once caught. Had they taken the care to make sure their website contains valid HTML code, then I would have considered using their service in the future. But I'm not sure if I will do so now.

They do, of course, have a more standards-compliant webpage than the PHP Nuke webpage (124 errors [w3.org] ) or the Drupal webpage (7 errors [w3.org] ).

Re:Perhaps they should fix their site's HTML first (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#13556204)

And I thought I was sad, geez you need to get out more.

Re:Perhaps they should fix their site's HTML first (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#13556650)

Had they taken the care to make sure their website contains valid HTML code, then I would have considered using their service in the future. But I'm not sure if I will do so now.

You judge the quality of a company's products by whether their webpage passes an HTML validator?

You sir, are an idiot.

Re:Perhaps they should fix their site's HTML first (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#13556998)

You judge the quality of a company's products by whether their webpage passes an HTML validator?
I assume you test every single app you EVER come across, or do you use a divining rod?

Re:Perhaps they should fix their site's HTML first (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#13557122)

I assume you test every single app you EVER come across, or do you use a divining rod?

I never said I test everything. But judging the quality of a product by the HTML validity of the vendor's web page is dumb.

Re:Perhaps they should fix their site's HTML first (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#13556570)

It looks like their site has one HTML error.

Jesus fucking christ. get a life. this is not an academic exercise, it is a web page. Does the web page look ok? Does it render well in all browsers? That's enough.

I believe it is very important that a company selling a error-detection program take the care and time to ensure that their websites are standards-compliant. It shows that they're concerned with writing correct code, be it HTML or Perl or whatever.

HTML isn't code, it's a markup language. And frankly, in many companies, the website is maintained by the marketing people, not the coders.

You remind me of the Dilbert cartoon where a potential customer tells Dilbert, "My company can't buy from your company unless your company is ISO 9000 certified."

Dilbert says, "You mean you would choose our crappy, expensive product instead of our competitor's high-quality, inexpensive product because we are ISO 9000 certified and they are not?"

The customer says, "Yes."

Dilbert says, "Well, my documented procedure says that I must now laugh in your face."

Thanks, but.... (2, Insightful)

barzok (26681) | more than 9 years ago | (#13556046)

I think I'll stick with recording my exception logs in my own database where I have some measure of security around it, and can look at all of them, not the last 100.

Re:Thanks, but.... (1)

MidNiteSk8r (693809) | more than 9 years ago | (#13556082)

....I was going to add something to this effect, because I think that I Should manage my OWN code - ESPECIALLY if there is a problem to be corrected.

similar to BugzScout in FogBugz (2, Informative)

smartgo (834342) | more than 9 years ago | (#13556059)

This sounds similar to the BugzScout support in FogBugz (www.fogcreek.com), except that there the errors get sent to your own database on your own web site, and are not limited to the last 100. Definitely cool and valuable to track where your application is breaking, and have the ability to report back to customers whether a specific problem is fixed, being worked on, or needs help to track down.

whatever happened to.... (4, Interesting)

amodm (876842) | more than 9 years ago | (#13556067)

old style logging. why not just log the exception to a file (as its usually done), and mail it to the programmers at a regular interval. why waste so much of bandwidth, especially in the case where things go horribly wrong and exceptions are thrown just about everywhere.

also, is this mechanism asynchronous ? coz synchronous would mean a lot of latency added to that particular thread, since things are now getting reported to some remote portal.

IMHO, its just another wasteful use of web services. just coz its the fashionable term these days doesn't mean it should be used for all purposes.

web services for exception reporting.....aarrgghhhh !!!

Log file & safety (2, Insightful)

jurt1235 (834677) | more than 9 years ago | (#13556170)

Just keeping the exceptions in the logfiles so you can literary put anything in the exception what you want, not having to wonder if some debug information which happens to be equal to a clients transaction wanders around on the network or even the internet. Plus logfiles can be analyzed too, enough handy tools around for that too (I use vi).

Re:Log file & safety (2, Interesting)

azaris (699901) | more than 9 years ago | (#13556413)

Plus logfiles can be analyzed too, enough handy tools around for that too (I use vi).

You have a magical version of 'vi' that penetrates the user's firewall, reads their logfiles over the Internet and reports back?

Re:whatever happened to.... (1)

Knossos (814024) | more than 9 years ago | (#13556185)

Well, the whole idea is that all exceptions get sent to the database so that the developer can get EXACT error messages from their applications without having to confuse the user.

I don't know about you guys, but I've had problems with needing to get precise information from users and all I get is "Well, I got this shiny grey error message". When what you really needed to know was an error number, and where the fault occurred.

Personally, I think its a great idea, as long as the users have the option to be able to disable the reporter. Otherwise you get into privacy issues and bandwidth stealing arguments.

Although, if I were going to do this, I'd prefer it sent the data back to my own database. Where I'd have more control over it.

Re:whatever happened to.... (1)

azaris (699901) | more than 9 years ago | (#13556251)

old style logging. why not just log the exception to a file (as its usually done), and mail it to the programmers at a regular interval. why waste so much of bandwidth, especially in the case where things go horribly wrong and exceptions are thrown just about everywhere.

Having an app that has nothing to do with e-mail start sending out e-mail is a faux pas. How does it even do it? Does it ask the user for mail preferences? Does it sniff around for an SMTP host? Does it just blast stuff out and run into a firewall? If the user is supposed to do the e-mailing they never will and you might as well not have bothered.

Of course, having the app do HTTP-SOAP calls is also questionnable, but at least the proxy settings can be dug up from somewhere and the requests secured properly with SSL.

As usual for /., most of the other comments are simple: "Waah, why must I pay money for a commercial service, waah".

Re:whatever happened to.... (2, Informative)

Wudbaer (48473) | more than 9 years ago | (#13556344)

Huh ? I don't know how you do that in your part of the world, over here we just have a mail component in the server-side software that generates an error email in the exception handler and mails it to an address configured in the server process by some means you like (config file, hardcoded (*ugh*), you name it). Not much more bother than using some remote service.

Re:whatever happened to.... (1)

azaris (699901) | more than 9 years ago | (#13556389)

Well what if it's a desktop app deployed in thousands of sites around the world?

Re:whatever happened to.... (1)

LiquidCoooled (634315) | more than 9 years ago | (#13556453)

The whole topic is about webserver SOAP exceptions.
The understanding is that you have some control over your own web installation.

Of course dealing with an end user client installation the rules are a little different, but thats not even part of the discussion here.

Re:whatever happened to.... (1)

LiquidCoooled (634315) | more than 9 years ago | (#13556476)

*sheepish looks*

Sorry, i just RTFA, and your right, it deals with clientside environments as well.

Re:whatever happened to.... (1)

Wudbaer (48473) | more than 9 years ago | (#13556485)

Depends on what you want to do: If you want to use the information only in case of critical errors log to a file/windows system log/whatever and either access it remotely if it's in your intranet or ask the user/on-site admin to mail you the respective info.

If there are no privacy concerns you just mail the respective exception info to somewhere as described above (sending email from any kind of app should be easy in all current programming environments), and if you want to be nice and want to inform the user about your mailing something to somewhere, you show them some kind of message box asking them for their permission beforehand. In case of a desktop app they should have noticed that something got wrong anyway.

Great, but have to be careful (4, Insightful)

CrazedWalrus (901897) | more than 9 years ago | (#13556089)

I used to do something like this using my personal web site. I didn't use it for exception reporting -- just for publishing generic statistics about our production stream. I could then monitor them remotely from my cell phone's web browser.

The key thing to be concerned about (as others have observed) is that any messages sent must be sufficiently generic so as not to give away vital information to the outside world.

When I published my stats, I used abbreviations that only I understood followed by percentages. That's it. If someone else saw it, they wouldn't understand it, and, even if they did, it was just non-vital aggregate information that wouldn't do them any good anyway.

This is the maximum level that such exception reporting could (wisely) rise to, and, as such, would be of limited value. I know from my own experience at large companies that log/exception output tends to contain things like userIDs, passwords, and server names, which could easily find itself passed along through these folks' API.

For this reason, it seems like a good service if installed internally, but a bad idea beyond proof of concept for anything larger than a mom-and-pop, where a single programmer knows and understands the whole system and can send sufficiently vague exceptions.

What are they really doing here? (1)

CastrTroy (595695) | more than 9 years ago | (#13556125)

Most businesses I know have ways of finding out when their application crashes. It's not much harder than putting some code into the page it goes to when you do get an exception, and having it email you things like the stack trace, and other important information. That's just the basic one, but a full fledged web system with database is the other end of the spectrum. Basically stuff like this isn't that hard to implement on your own, and gives you much better control in the end.

Sensitve Info In Exception Information? (2, Insightful)

Pants75 (708191) | more than 9 years ago | (#13556131)

Remember to strip out an connection strings/password etc from you exception info if you're think of using this...

Why you would, I don't know. But still.

Pete

solution vs problem? (2, Funny)

AnObfuscator (812343) | more than 9 years ago | (#13556132)

is this as cool as it looks, or a solution in search of a problem?

Or? What kind of nerd ARE you?! Duh, it's BOTH!

In fact, a good case could be made that it looks so damn cool BECAUSE it is a solution in search of a problem!

Re:solution vs problem? (1)

TekGoNos (748138) | more than 9 years ago | (#13557198)

Or? What kind of nerd ARE you?! Duh, it's BOTH!
Thinking or is exclusive? What kind of nerd ARE you?! Duh, "or" means it can be both, otherwise, he'd written xor.

Hate fucking hate .rar files! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#13556143)

This must be the most boring article on Slashdot ever!

So, instead of discussing it, I will ask your opinion of .rar files. I fucking hate them. Just yesterday I downloaded new second season episodes of Battlestar Galactica 2003. All in gaziilion .rar files. What the fuck is the deal with .rar? Why can't you just share a single .avi file?

Don't tell me you post this crap to something obsolete like usenet?

GET DOWNSTAIRS AND WASH MUMS CAR ! (2, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#13556183)


if you are going to take the day off school you can start by helping your mum

Re:Hate fucking hate .rar files! (0, Offtopic)

orion41us (707362) | more than 9 years ago | (#13556184)

All you need to do is find the master rar file (the one with no #'s at the end of it) when you un-rar that it will suck all the other ones in anc produce one big avi file ;)

Re:Hate fucking hate .rar files! (-1, Offtopic)

CyricZ (887944) | more than 9 years ago | (#13556201)

RAR files are the scum of the earth. If you want to archive files, you use tar to create a tarball. If you want to compress an archive or a large file, you use gzip or bzip2. Those are proven utilities that are wide spread and known to work.

Re:Hate fucking hate .rar files! (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#13556512)

rar files obtain much better compression than gzip/bzip2. rar files are the betamax of the compression world, some people are smart enough to acknowledge a superior technology.

according to your argument no one should support ogg.

Re:Hate fucking hate .rar files! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#13556861)

7zip > rar

Re:Hate fucking hate .rar files! (1)

ACORN_USER (902686) | more than 9 years ago | (#13557053)

If you want to compress an archive you use bz2 - that's it. Using gzip would be like picking a Lotus Esprit over the space shuttle.

Unless... (1)

holzp (87423) | more than 9 years ago | (#13556195)

Unless its a networking exception, then your application explodes.

One obvious problem (1)

eric76 (679787) | more than 9 years ago | (#13556210)

One obvious problem with such a scheme is that most users won't update the software every time a release is made available.

Suppose you fix a bug and release a new version. It will be some time before many people have switched to the new version and so you will, in the meantime, continue to get the same bug reports for a bug you've already exterminated.

The clear result is that of the latest 100 bug reports received, most will likely be completely useless.

Re:One obvious problem (1)

venomkid (624425) | more than 9 years ago | (#13556563)

Just a wild guess, but the exception information will probably contain the software version.

Beta debugging (1)

WebfishUK (249858) | more than 9 years ago | (#13556232)

Years ago applications were exepcted to just work - from a user point of view. But with the increased complexity of applications the user is becoming increasingly involved in the later stage testing and development of applications. This is particularly true in open source development, where the development team need to use every possible test scenerio available.

Although this thing isn't vastly developed, I think we are going to see a lot more services available to developers to help them better integrate with their users and to understand their issues with the software. I would like to see some better reporting tools, other than the last 100 exceptions, surely the top 100 exceptions would be more useful?

An exception has occured (2, Funny)

DeadSea (69598) | more than 9 years ago | (#13556300)

Exception: Could not handle error: an additonal exception was encountered
at com.example.util.BaseExceptionHandler() Line 450
...
Root Cause:
OutOfMemoryError: Out of memory during exception construction
at Exception() Line 5
...
Root Cause:
IOException: Could not connect to exceptionollection.com
at com.ExceptionCollection.reportException() Line 127
...
Root Cause:
ApplicationException: HelloWorld program is too simple
at com.example.webapp.HelloWorld.print() Line 907
...

exception handling (1)

chrisranjana.com (630682) | more than 9 years ago | (#13556440)

SOunds like a unique idea

minuS 4, Troll) (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#13556532)

downward spiral. it was fun. If I'm Nigger Asoociation platform for the

Java? (1)

b100dian (771163) | more than 9 years ago | (#13556692)

TFA:Your programs can be written in C#/VB.NET, Java, VB6, Delphi, C++, or any other SOAP-enabled language

I lack to see anything apart from .NET code.

For .NET, we provide a compiled component (DLL file)

?!. Not even .NET.

Patent Pending !? (1)

alico (557204) | more than 9 years ago | (#13556757)

I have been doing this for my company for the last four years. Capturing Exception and Workstation information from a user running our windows based application, including a callstack trace, then sending it back via HTTP to an open source web based bug tracker which I customized a "postBug.php" for. Developers simply login the bug tracker and watch incomming reports. Users also get a bug # which they can reference if they contact our support lines. The windows code is in Delphi, but can be ported to anything else, the bug tracker is "Anthill bug tracker" but i have been considering switching to Mantis. The system cost us under 2k to setup and served us very well over the last few years. While some may debate the effectiveness of exceptions and how they should be handled, let's face it, they occur and when they do at a client site where u don't have a clue what they're doing, the detailed reports come in handy for remote debugging your applications. Delphi has a Global Exception hook for any unhandled exception which traps and sends the errors with tons of info to our bug tracker, i am sure you could do something like that with other languages. Give Anthill/Mantis and "craft your own client" a shot or contact me if you use delphi.

good for hosting (1)

sucati (611768) | more than 9 years ago | (#13556809)

I can see this being useful for hosting providers, such as mine that for security reasons do not allow access to the io.* package in .NET. Also nice for a consolodating log messages in a cluster/farm. For mission critical stuff, you can't beat a log file, unless maybe you run out of disk space.

More bloody accounting (1)

ACORN_USER (902686) | more than 9 years ago | (#13556961)

If my code throws an exception, I expect it to get caught and handled. If the exception is frequent and represents a bug in my code, it should bloody well have been isolated and ironed out in testing 'BEFORE' releasing it to the wider and stupider world.

If I'm going to keep a log of my exception, I'll do it for >100 exception and log these locally in a format which I can write a script to analyse and clear out, running in my own dev environment. I don't want my code to break when their soap daemon dies - I mean, whose going to log 'that' exception?!!

Windows error reporting... (1)

serial_crusher (591271) | more than 9 years ago | (#13557038)

I think every freshman computer science major has spent hours waiting for Microsoft to get back to them after submitting an error report on their crashed program. This will probably work the same way.

nice plug, btw (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#13557139)

man, your text sounds like an attempted advert for a crappy service (for real)

Prior Coolness (1)

Doc Ruby (173196) | more than 9 years ago | (#13557339)

I hope they don't try to patent this feature. Because I implemented it in 1997, as did several other consultancies building Java (and other) based websites for distributed companies. It is cool, though, if I do say so myself.
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