Open Source Strategies

A blog about open source software and business models, enterprise software, and the opentaps Open Source ERP + CRM Suite.

Monday, October 22, 2007

The Importance of Good Error Messages

The following is a true story:

A few months ago, I wrote my mother-in-law a check. A couple of weeks later, it was returned to me with a letter from the bank which said: "Instrument is not negotiable."

I had absolutely no idea what that meant, so I took it, with the check to the bank. The teller had no idea, and neither did the branch manager.

Finally, a young trainee said "Oh, I know! We went over this last week in training." She then pointed out that a check is a negotiable instrument if it has five things filled in: name, numeric amount, written amount, signature, and date. In my haste to pay my mother-in-law, I forgot to fill in the date on the check.

For all you software developers who want to say "those banks are so #!@@^* !$%*^", let's try to do a better job of explaining what our software does first.

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