Sunday, October 03, 2010

error messages for developers

All its corporate weight and worth could not save Reliance from the blight of the generally terrible state of web pages in Indian portals. The portal for Reliance India Call is an eyesore. It looks like a song sequence from a bad Raj Kanwar film. Make that a song sequence from any Raj Kanwar film. Of course, the portal offers a "Contact us" link right next to the apostrophe abusing FAQ's on the right top corner. Click that to be taken to a form that asks you for a lot of required information and a description of your problem. There is a field called "Issue/Feedback Type" which offers a dropdown control to select values. Once you do that, the whole page blinks (or flashes, if you're downloading a lot of songs and movies while doing this or if you have a modest Internet connection) and the values in the dropdown for the field below called "Sub Type" are generated based on your selection. When you finally get to the "Description" and type out your woes and click "Submit" you are likely to see the popup below:


The only way you can find out what was "invalid" is to view the source of the page. Search for this error message and you will stumble upon the following line:

ctl00_ContentPlaceHolder1_regvDesc.validationexpression = "^[a-zA-Z0-9.\\s\\#\\-\\.\\,\\/\\(\\)]{1,1000}$";

Of course they expected you to do this and to know regular expressions rather well so that you could figure out that they did not want you to put a semi-colon in that field. How simple!

addendum [October 06, 2010]: Add double quotes to that list. I think Reliance should just support a tweet appender instead of the form and limit all submissions to short inarticulate bursts of alphanumeric vomit.

addendum [October 19, 2010]: add question marks to that list. At this point, I wonder if anyone really cares. Try complaining about network connectivity and be prepared to try and figure out what the correct for the phone number is. All you get as a hint is a popup telling you that the format is incorrect. If you get it right the first time, congratulations.

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