Tangential comments about Software Development

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

And then there's the 5% of the time

The First Rule of Programming: It's Always Your Fault is right. If something's awry look at your code rather than blame Microsoft etc. If that doesn't work, look at your code again. Repeat until you notice the semi-colon on the end of your while() statement.

In one week I had a doozy of an exception. We had code which put values into an Excel spreadsheet, copied a graph into the clipboard and pasted into a Word Content Control. It worked. It worked. It failed.

We found that certain combinations of data, together with certain blobbiness of a dotted error line on the graph would cause a problem with our pasting code which we could not reproduce by ctrl-c ctrl-v in the applications. We changed the error line to a solid line and haven't seen it fail. But is it fixed? Who knows for sure?

If the problem lies in some other bit of code that you don't control, you'll not only have learned essential troubleshooting and diagnostic skills, you'll also have an audit trail of evidence to back up your claims, too.

That's true. We did learn something about isolating a problem within the Office applications.