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Read Those Error Messages

Randolph West has a public service announcement:

My boss got upset with us one day on The Project From Hell. Tempers were frayed, tensions ran high, and other euphemisms were euphemisming. In short, we were all grumpy, and as expected on a project of this nature we kept making obvious mistakes and wasting our energy chasing our tails.

Obvious? Well, yes. It turns out that the answer to a particularly common issue we were running into was explained in the first line of the stack trace of the code that kept crashing. I’m not exaggerating for the sake of this story. The actual problem was explained in the first sentence of the error, in the very first line.

Microsoft products are fairly notorious about poorly-crafted error messages, but as Randolph mentions, often the solution is there if you take care to read the message.