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#1 e_i_pi  Icon User is offline

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A day in the life of troubleshooting and client engagement

Posted 08 June 2016 - 06:34 PM

One of our offices had a site set up for them by my associate a year ago, and they've only just got round to using it. It's a simple site, one form where you enter your details, and then it produces an HTML page that you print out and attach to the front of an assignment you submit. Not sure why his solution is 219 files totalling 5.40MB, but hey, maybe he needed all 15 of those plugins to connect to a database, an authentication server, and then spit out some data to screen.

Now, because users will be users, and devs will be devs, the form seems to have failed validation in the past due to users not selecting a choice from a set of radio buttons. So, instead of making the set required (the sensible option), my associate has instead put a great big arrow next to the radio buttons, with the text "Select an assignment by clicking on a radio button". Because users know what radio buttons are.

So today, I get call from the Sydney office saying that the site isn't working. A student has tried and tried and tried, they've clicked over and over and it simply doesn't work. Let the troubleshooting begin...

Logs don't show anything. Neither Apache nor site logs. Check in the database, nothing there to suggest anything is amiss. Okay, let's jump onto the test environment and try to reproduce the problem. Hmm, no test environment. Okay, I'll get the code from source control. Hmm, not in source control either. Okay, I'll get it from prod and demote it to test. There done. No database in test, I'll demote the database from prod to test as well. Great, all done, let's navigate to the test site now. Site doesn't work. Hmm, I'll check httpd.conf. Nope, wild carded, so the site should work as soon as the directory is created. I'll check .htaccess. Nope, no .htaccess. What on earth is going on? I'll check the database config file. All good. I'll check the config file. Oh lookee here, if it's not HTTPS, it redirects to HTTPS. Fixed. Great. Change the config file, set it to test variables, set the authentication to bypass, and away we go. Navigate to site, fill out form, click the "Display My Coversheet" button, et voila, a cover sheet appears. No problems! Wonderful! Wait...

This is weird, I just demoted the database and code from production, set it to test variables, and it worked. There's nothing here that's different to prod apart from which database server it connects to, and the authentication being waved through. Should be fine. No way is it going to be authentication, to get to the link to this page on prod, the student would have to authenticate anyhow, as it's via Sharepoint. Could it be authentication? Man, I so don't want to check authntication. It can't be authentication. First step would be making sure they are typing in their credentials properly, this will be painful, the student is in the next city, it's 90 minutes drive away, and I don't have dev tools on a laptop. Groan this is going to take forever. There's got to be something else, there just has to...

*lightbulb*

*dials up Sydney office*

"Could you please tell the student that after they have selected the assignment in the 'Select an assignment by clicking on a radio button', they then need to click the 'Display my Coversheet' button to display the coversheet? Yes. Yes, I think that is the problem. I know, I know, could you just get them to try it. Yes I know. Please get them to try it. I realise this, but can they please just give it a go, just to rule out the obvious things, so we can get on to the next step which is finding the root cause of the problem.

...

...

Oh it works now? So they clicked on the button and now it works? But it definitely wasn't working before? You sure they clicked on the button before? Alright, strange, but it's fixed now. Yes, yes, not sure what happened, nothing has actually changed. You're right, must have been one of those pesky gremlins in the system. No worries, nope, sure, happy to help"

*deep breaths*

This post has been edited by e_i_pi: 08 June 2016 - 06:36 PM


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Replies To: A day in the life of troubleshooting and client engagement

#2 astonecipher  Icon User is offline

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Re: A day in the life of troubleshooting and client engagement

Posted 08 June 2016 - 06:54 PM

Gotta love end users!
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#3 e_i_pi  Icon User is offline

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Re: A day in the life of troubleshooting and client engagement

Posted 08 June 2016 - 07:02 PM

Two hours of my life I'll never see again
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#4 Skydiver  Icon User is offline

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Re: A day in the life of troubleshooting and client engagement

Posted 09 June 2016 - 05:35 AM

The universe will always build a better idiot. :)
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#5 jon.kiparsky  Icon User is offline

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Re: A day in the life of troubleshooting and client engagement

Posted 10 June 2016 - 05:03 AM

"End users" always sounded more like a slogan or a demand than a noun phrase to me.
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