Improving error messages in NavalPlan
Lately we have been teaching training courses for NavalPlan users and developers. These courses are a great opportunity to see how people uses the application, which allows us to detect different usability problems in some windows.
As time passes, project is gaining some relevance, for example NavalPlan will be present at LinuxTag 2011. This implies that more people are starting to use the application and, accordingly, starting to report more bugs.
We’ve detected a problem in the error messages in NavalPlan, as currently they’re not informative and just show a basic message when some runtime error appears. Moreover, in some cases users don’t have access to server logs, therefore they can’t send us more information that a screenshot with the error message shown.
We’ve modified the way errors are reported to users and now NavalPlan shows more comprehensive information about the exception including stacktrace. This will make user’s life easier when detecting some issue in order to report them using the bugzilla, without needing to dig into the logs.
As you can see in the picture, apart from error message, exception type, status code and stacktrace are shown. Stacktrace appears into a textbox in order to make easier copy&paste the information.
For the future, we should study the possibility to add some button to allow users send the information directly to the development team via e-mail, web service, …