Monthly Archives: June 2009

Error window redesigned

In our last post we have asked if anyone else suspects that we have received error report without his permission. So far, no one reported it yet and, as we have committed to extensive testing, we have all reasons to believe that it’s not a bug in our system that caused this unfortunate event but an isolated incident (although we are still open to any feedback that could suggest otherwise).

What happened is most surely an unintentional and accidental confirmation by this user who complained. Nevertheless, we apologize for the inconvenience to anyone who might have experienced same thing. Also, anyone who sent us a bug report is and always was informed about what’s happening: by window that shows sending progress and by information message box that stays on screen until users closes it. In other words, there is no chance that you’ve sent a bug report without knowing it happened.

Regardless, we are doing whatever is reasonable in order to reduce a possibility that this ever happens again, hopefully to zero. Firstly, because of your peace of mind and, secondly, because of our own peace of mind. After several iterations we finally settled down with this layout:



We are confident that the possibility of accidental error submission is now completely eliminated. As you can see, the Send button is disabled and it will remain so until you enter a valid Email address or click on I want to submit this error anonymously check box. We have also emphasized details about the whole process that will some users surely find important (such are statements about confidentiality, purpose and method of sending).

Update is already uploaded to the server, so feel free to download it.

Does our error reporting raise any privacy issues?

Recently we had an unpleasant communication with one of our users who claims that our application sent an error report to us without his consent. Needless to say, we really take a special care about your privacy from the day one of our existence, avoiding any “sneaky” practices that lot of companies utilized until few years ago, when they still weren’t illegal. Ethics is and was the first law that we choose to oblige to.

That’s why this kind accusations immediately raised our alarm and we started to test our bug reporting routine in order to find and fix this misbehavior as soon as possible. However, all our tests went fine and we couldn’t reproduce the problem this user is referring to.

Regardless of that, we have left open the possibility that there’s either a bug or a misunderstanding causing this, and tried to get more information from him. Unfortunately, not just that he was not able to help, but his e-mails also contained some contrastive descriptions, let alone an attitude that was preventing any rational communication.

Considering that, and the fact that no one ever complained about this issue before, we would like to be sure: has any of our applications ever sent a bug report to us without your permission? If yes, please let us know as soon as possible so we can take further actions.

What’s error reporting?

“Hunting” bugs and crashes without any details is a “mission impossible”, as all that you get is a description like “Access violation at address 004E046E in module ‘Application.exe’. Read of address 000001B4.” or “Range check error”. With these alone we can’t do much – they barely inform us about error type and nothing else. That’s why any developer who’s serious about building a stable software intended for distribution to wide audience can’t imagine doing it without some error logging library, either built in-house or purchased from another vendor. For this purpose we use great EurekaLog.

These reports usually contain basic information that could affect program running: operating system with a version, amount of RAM, HDD, processor type and speed, running processes, etc. Most useful part of this report is a so called call stack, which shows us exactly in which function of our code problem occurred and what other functions invoked it. Also, there’s more information useful only to some types of applications: computer and user name, LAN IP address, etc. Sometimes, when call stack doesn’t suffice to locate an error, there’s a assembler code, computer register values, short memory content  (from this specific application) and, if user agrees, a screen shot.

How does it work in our applications?

As error reporting function should be and is completely voluntary, if error happens the first window that you see looks like this:

First error reporting window

As you can see, there are two buttons at the bottom: “Send Error Report” and “Don’t Send“, so user has a clear choice to send it to us or not. There are also a two optional placeholders for your description and Email address (useful in case we have additional questions about the error).

In the middle of the window there’s also a “click here” link that you can use to inspect data this report contains before sending it. If you click on it, you’ll see a window like this:

Second error reporting window

At the left there are two checkboxes: “Send this error via Internet” and “Attach a Screenshot image“. By turning them off you can, once again, make a decision about sending. There’s also a convenient checkbox at the right (“Copy to Clipboard“), in case you want to send us error report manually by using your Email client (with some editing, if you wish).

It’s important to say that we don’t know who sent an error report, unless you explicitly leave us an Email address or name (in the first window) or send us a follow-up message pointing it out.

We hope that this article resolves any questions that our error reporting could raise, but feel free to contact us if you have any additional concerns.

Accounting software for startups – anyone interested?

There’s really lot of accounting/finance software available, free or commercial, and creating another one seems very unnecessary. Still, most of them are targeted to either home users or to large companies, even though some claim they are intended for small businesses. Alright, if those are for small businesses, what about micro-businesses? Being a small (micro?) software company (moreover: located outside USA, UK or Canada), we really don’t need most of options that these applications offer while not fulfilling other needs that we have.

After, literally, years of searching, we finally decided to make a tool for ourselves – to make it actually usable for micro ISVs and other service-based companies. We believe that there’s more company owners out there who feel the same and who currently use spreadsheets to track finances or trying to adjust already available tools. That’s why we are seriously thinking about polishing this software and publishing it as a product.

What do you think? If you are interested in this kind of application, please go to Fresh Flow Accounting website where you can read a short introduction, subscribe to a mailing list or send us a comment to support us in building this or tell us how stupid we are. đŸ™‚

Fresh Flow Accounting website

Web Log Storming survey – discount for participants

In order to improve our software and service, we would really appreciate if you could take few minutes of your time to anonymously answer 9 questions. In return, a 30% discount coupon is waiting for you on the last page! With 30% discount you can get Web Log Storming new license for $132 (US), or an upgrade for as low as $55 (US).

Note that coupon does not expire: you can get it now by taking a survey and use it whenever it’s convenient for you. On the other hand, survey will expire as soon as we collect enough data for analysis.

To properly understand and answer questions, you should have at least some experience with Web Log Storming. So if you didn’t already, please download and install 30 days evaluation version.

Download Web Log Storming

Take a survey and get a 30% discount