Post #121

Friendly error handling

10th January 2004, the wee hours | Comments (18)

I’m going to blow my own horn here for a moment, *toot*, and say I’m pretty pleased with the error handling on this site.

I’ve already mentioned the 404 error pages I’ve set up, but I’ve also taken the time to ensure that any other typos, broken links, or mistakes on my part give the user some friendly and helpful feedback.

Let’s try and generate some errors on the site and see what happens.

So, no blank error pages, no awful system messages; I think that’s a pretty helpful set of pages to feed people. Not perfect by any means, but it’s a start.

The next step is to ensure the rest of the site behaves in a similar manner. I think I have most things covered, but there’s always room for improvement (especially on the search page), so if anyone manages to break anything, or isn’t happy with the current feedback they get then please let me know.

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Comments (18)

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  1. Ethan:

    Hot damn -- that is some pimpriffic error handling. Nicely done.

    Posted 35 minutes after the fact
  2. Dris:

    Woohoo! I like!

    Hmm... just noticed the Increase/Decrease size under the textarea. Doesn't work on Safari, I'm afraid...

    Anyways, nice error pages!

    Posted 1 hour, 10 minutes after the fact
    Inspired: ↓ Dunstan
  3. Ro:

    If I happened to try to find a post from the 28th day in September using URLs as such:

    I know, may be extreme cases... it doesn't make the results any less whacky :)

    Posted 5 hours, 22 minutes after the fact
    Inspired: ↓ Dunstan
  4. Joshua:

    I recently had a hoot actualy making a 404 - took a newsfeed template, added amazon, and its a veritable cornucopia of error information. Sorry, no Google - how about powell's ... error books?

    Posted 6 hours, 14 minutes after the fact
  5. JF:

    404 -

    Posted 6 hours, 27 minutes after the fact
  6. Dunstan:

    The ever-helpful Stuart [1] is _maybe_ working on a cross-browser, more functional replacement for that increase/decrease widget. We shall see.


    Posted 10 hours, 19 minutes after the fact
    Inspired by: ↑ Dris
  7. Dunstan:

    Ro, yeah, that's MYSQL trying to be helpful. I don't think I can be bothered to take error checking that far though :o)

    Posted 10 hours, 23 minutes after the fact
    Inspired by: ↑ Ro
  8. Scott Johnson:


    With the addition of these error pages, your site is probably one of the most consistent that I have ever seen. Excellent work. I think I may model my own 404 page after yours, as it seems to be FAR more useful than the apache default that I have in place currently.

    Posted 10 hours, 41 minutes after the fact
    Inspired: ↓ Dunstan
  9. Sian:

    Toot away! *toot toot*. I haven't had so much fun finding errors on a site, since well, forever.

    Posted 11 hours, 11 minutes after the fact
    Inspired: ↓ Dunstan
  10. Sken:

    Wow! wonderfull error handling, wish I had the idea. I do have a suggestion though. I don't know if it's possible but on the "Day without post" handling you might want to add the previous and the next post to that date.

    going with your example:

    no posts on the 28th of december, but you do have one on the 27th (first previous) and the 1st of januari (first next post). So these two posts are the closest to that date.. It might be interesting to enlist these aswell?

    by the way, love your site (first post here)

    Posted 14 hours, 38 minutes after the fact
    Inspired: ↓ Dunstan
  11. Dunstan:

    Thanks Sian - I think you and I need to get out more ;o)

    Posted 15 hours, 27 minutes after the fact
    Inspired by: ↑ Sian
  12. Dunstan:

    Hi Sken, thanks for posting!

    I did ponder doing days either side of the requested one, but to be honest it was about 3 in the morning when I wrote most of that stuff and I just wanted to post the damned entry and get to bed.

    I'll certainly add that to my list as the next step.
    Thanks for not letting me off the hook ;o)

    Posted 15 hours, 30 minutes after the fact
    Inspired by: ↑ Sken
  13. Dunstan:

    Thanks Scott, presenting a consistent front is pretty important to me - I'm glad you think I'm getting there :o)

    Posted 15 hours, 33 minutes after the fact
    Inspired by: ↑ Scott Johnson
  14. Nicole:

    Here's to wishing I could channel even half of your ambition into my site.

    Posted 15 hours, 51 minutes after the fact
    Inspired: ↓ Dunstan
  15. Dunstan:

    Well, I'm kind of living in fairly land right now Nicole - I'm sure if I had bills and rent to pay I'd never get to do anything to this site. Thank you parents :o)

    Posted 16 hours, 6 minutes after the fact
    Inspired by: ↑ Nicole
  16. Richard Rutter:

    Do you have similar error catching for major problems such as Erro 500 server errors or failed database connections?


    Posted 1 day, 12 hours after the fact
    Inspired: ↓ Dunstan
  17. Dunstan:

    Hey rich,

    I do kind of, if certain pages are loaded and no posts appear then it pops up a message saying "Sorry, no posts can be found, something must be wrong - why not go look at my photo site instead?" I then get an email (automatically sent) saying "Holy cow! Everything's broken! Panic!" with links to the site, the db and the admin front end.

    I haven't targeted specific server error messages (beyond 404) but if the DB plays silly buggers, then I'm pretty sure I have it covered (touch wood).

    Posted 1 day, 13 hours after the fact
    Inspired by: ↑ Richard Rutter
  18. Greg:

    Custom 404 pages definitely helps your readers. I added one yesterday to my blog. It's got a great pic you can check out and an RSS feed summary for my posts. Here's the link:
    <a href="">File Not Found - 404 Error</a>

    Posted 2 years, 2 months after the fact

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