Thursday, June 28, 2012

Mysterious messages (1)

Once when I ordered a book online, I received this unhelpful error message:

Server Error in '/' Application.

Object reference not set to an instance of an object.

Description: An unhandled exception occurred during the execution of the current web request. Please review the stack trace for more information about the error and where it originated in the code.

Exception Details: System.NullReferenceException: Object reference not set to an instance of an object.

Source Error:

The source code that generated this unhandled exception can only be shown when compiled in debug mode. To enable this, please follow one of the below steps, then request the URL:

1. Add a "Debug=true" directive at the top of the file that generated the error. Example:

  <%@ Page Language="C#" Debug="true" %>


2) Add the following section to the configuration file of your application:

Note that this second technique will cause all files within a given application to be compiled in debug mode. The first technique will cause only that particular file to be compiled in debug mode.

Important: Running applications in debug mode does incur a memory/performance overhead. You should make sure that an application has debugging disabled before deploying into production scenario.

Stack Trace:

[NullReferenceException: Object reference not set to an instance of an object.]

   _ASP.step2_aspx.__RenderfrmConquer(HtmlTextWriter __output, Control parameterContainer) +68

   System.Web.UI.Control.RenderChildren(HtmlTextWriter writer) +27

   System.Web.UI.HtmlControls.HtmlForm.RenderChildren(HtmlTextWriter writer) +44

   System.Web.UI.HtmlControls.HtmlForm.Render(HtmlTextWriter output) +397

   System.Web.UI.Control.RenderControl(HtmlTextWriter writer) +243

   System.Web.UI.Control.RenderChildren(HtmlTextWriter writer) +72

   System.Web.UI.Control.Render(HtmlTextWriter writer) +7

   System.Web.UI.Control.RenderControl(HtmlTextWriter writer) +243

   System.Web.UI.Page.ProcessRequestMain() +1900

Version Information: Microsoft .NET Framework Version:1.0.3705.209; ASP.NET Version:1.0.3705.0

Analysis: Why was this message sent to me? Clearly, it was not intended for the layman who wishes to order a book online (me).

The Takeaway: If you write copy that will be used online, test your copy before it goes online. Work with your website people and step through the very process a customer will step through. Make sure everything your customer will see is clear, relevant, and layman-readable. If the techies have inserted extraneous copy into the process, tell them to get it out of there; they are impeding the company's revenue. Think of this test as part of your proofreading.

See disclaimer.

Thanks to SJ Cuthbertson for improving the Takeaway.

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