Blah Blah. Click ignore to get back to work.

As I mentioned in a previous post, this is a typical red box error you will get from Made2Manage.

Red Box Error

Compared to some of the red box errors, this one is actually descriptive.

Some other examples are:

107 Operator/operand type mismatch.
5 Record is out of range.
13. Alias ‘SLCDPM’ is not found.
1429 OLE IDispatch exception code 0 from Microsoft OLE DB Provider for SQL Server

Now in all fairness, many of these error descriptions will make sense to experienced admins, but those admins are not standing over the shoulder of the users so they do not see them. Yes, the admin can and should be looking at their ERROR.LOG file, but how many of us do that on a daily basis?

Over my 10+ years of working with Made2Manage, I’ve come to the conclusion that this is what the user actually sees.

My Red Box Error

Please pardon my lack of Photoshop skills.

I was reminded of this a week ago when a user came to me with a Made2Manage problem. Unfortunately, I had to ask him to wait as I was already on the phone with M2M support regarding another problem. 10 minutes later when I got back to him, he informed me that he had “fixed it.” I asked him to explain and he told me that he got several red box errors and kept clicking ignore until they went away. I asked him what they said and he replied, “Dave, I get so many that I don’t read them anymore.”

My users’ attitude regarding the technobabble in error messages remind me of a favorite “Far Side” cartoon:

What dogs hear

Fortunately, Made2Manage logs all of these in the Error.Log file, but when you go to look at it, the volume of errors can be daunting. Now in all fairness, normally only the first error of the cluster is important. In a later post, I’ll give some tips as to how to better manage your Error.Log.

In an effort to improve the product, these are what I view to be the problems with the current method of error management. These are not just related to Made2Manage, but to software in general. Why don’t users read the messages? Why should they?

  • Users don’t care about errors, they care about getting work done. Error messages are seen as getting in the way of work.
  • There are simply too many errors.
  • Most errors can be cleared by clicking ignore, or with a Made2Manage restart, without penalty. In a sense, the program is crying wolf.
  • They all look the same to the user. How would they know if they really should notify their Admin right away? They’re all red.

Accordingly, these are the actions I would take to fix this problem.

  • Errors must be less frequent
  • They must be in regular english.
  • The error messages should suggest an action. If it truly is a grave error, the user should be instructed to stop and notify the admin immediately.
  • To that end, errors should have differing severity. The different levels should look different.

The ultimate goal of course would be life without error messages at all.

5 comments to Blah Blah. Click ignore to get back to work.

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