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Error Information Gathering

Jakob Jenkov
Last update: 2014-05-26

Error information gathering means gathering the information needed to react to, and diagnose the error. The needed information is typically divided into two categories:

  • Error Cause
  • Error Location

Application end users, operators, administrators and developers typically need information about what caused the error. They need that to determine if and how to respond to the error, and whether the error is severe or not.

If the error is severe and e.g. need some debugging and bug fixing by the developers, then the developers also need to know the location of the error. Knowing the location of the error is essential to know where to start looking for the cause of the error. For instance, even if the error description said something like "Parameter XYZ was null, and it should be non-null", you still need to determine why that parameter was all of a sudden null. That is what I mean by the underlying cause.

Error cause and location information often includes:

  Information Interested Party
Cause Technical error description Developers, Operators / Administrators
Cause End user error description End Users
Cause Relevant input / parameter / variable data End Users, Developers, Operators / Administrators
Cause Relevant system data in singletons, configurations, databases etc. End Users, Developers, Operators / Administrators
Cause Relevant external conditions
(is system XYZ up?).
End Users, Developers, Operators / Administrators
Location Stack Trace
(included in exception)
Location Unique Error ID Developers, Operators / Administrators

Exactly what information you need to collect depends on your application, and what error that occurred. Some errors may need information about configuration setttings, or information fetched from database etc. Others may only need a simple error message - because the error is very simple, and easy to diagnose.

Additionally, what information to collect depends on what parties need to know about the error. If only the end user should be notified, you may not need to collect information about configuration settings etc.

Jakob Jenkov

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