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Developer Resources: Getting the Most from the Forums

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Our forums are chock full of information and we want to make sure that everyone can make the most of this.

Post all relevant information

Sometimes the operating system on which you encounter a problem matters, sometimes it does not, sometimes other product versions matter. By providing all the pertinent information from the get-go, it allows people who read your posts to better help you and not have to guess. At minimum, I would suggest that you provide the following with each post:
- client PC operating system (server, too, if a server is involved) exact version
- VDF (or other product) exact version
- database product and exact version
- connectivity product and exact version

Post complete error messages

Simply posting 'I get error # 1234' isn't nearly as useful as 'I get error 1234 # "this is the descriptive error test"' is much more useful. The absolute best thing is to post the exact error message as copied from the error dialog (see below for more).

The person reading your post may not know what error the error # is. By omitting the error message text, you are forcing people to look up the error number, which dramatically increases the odds of someone going on to the next post and not helping you.

Post error messages as plain text when possible

Screen shots are great, but the best possible way to post an error message is in plain text. This way, you instantly make your post and the error message findable anytime someone searches for it. This is tremendously important!

In every version of Windows since XP, any error that appears in a standard Windows message box (yep, this includes VDF error messages) can be copied as plain text via the copy (Ctrl+C by default) keyboard shortcut. The result will look something like this:
---------------------------
Error
---------------------------
Cannot delete - related records exist

File: 25 - Customer
---------------------------
OK
---------------------------
Of course, unhandled VDF error show a nice error dialog that allows you to copy the full error message including the call stack as plain text:



Clicking on the Copy button copies this plain text:
C:\Visual DataFlex 15.1 Examples\Order Entry\Programs\Order.exe
Referenced Array Index Out of Bounds

Error: 4509

MSG_ONCLICK (4574) - OBUTTON1 (625) - at address 65296
MSG_COMMAND (648) - OBUTTON1 (625) - in native code
[start] - at address 72121
Again, posting the plain text makes it searchable. It also allows other to simply copy and paste the error message for other searches. I do this a lot, copy an error message number or text and search my emails using Google desktop. Doing this makes it easier for others to help you and easier for everyone to find this information again.

Before You Click Post...

...read your post as if you were not the poster.

Whenever we post something, we forget that there is all kinds of information (some of it critical to an answer) that we know (weíre the ones butting our heads against the problem), but havenít actually added to the post. So the usual fill-in-the-information-gaps-two-step happens (which almost always leads to some extemporaneous offshoots) before the problem is clearly understood. I find that stopping, pretending I donít know squat about the issue and reading back my post will help keep those gaps down to a minimum.

If you switch to the Advanced Editor (click the Go Advanced button below the Quick Reply editor), you will see a preview of your post above the editor. This allows you to preview the post. You can also make edits here and click on Preview Post to preview your changes.


Write posts with searches in mind

This just takes some getting used to. I have trained myself to try and write forum posts, KBase articles, etc., to keep in mind that someone (often times me) may try to find that information in the future. For example, typos or slang may eliminate a post from being found. Most browsers have built-in spell checkers or add-ons (e.g. Google toolbar) with spell-checkers. I recommend using one for forum posts.

You can edit your own posts

Every user with rights to post can also edit his/her own posts. The Edit button is at the bottom right of your post.

Posting Source Code

You can post code in a way that preserves indentation, making it much more readable. The trick is to go to the Advanced Editor (click the Go Advanced button below the Quick Reply editor), then click the # button in the editor toolbar. Read this post for more information.

Posting Images

You can attach and/or embed images into your posts. Read this post for details.

Efficient Searches

Searching and finding what you are looking for is an art form in itself and varies from search tool to tool. See the Search FAQ for details on how to search our forums.

Tracking Posts

When a thread is displayed, you can use the Thread Tools menu to subscribe to a thread.

This allows you to choose whether and how frequently you wish to receive email updates regarding this thread. Even if you choose no email updates, you can still view any subscribed thread via the List Subscriptions option in your User Control Panel (UserCP). You can also simply create a link to your subscriptions.

The URL to list subscriptions is: http://support.dataaccess.com/forums...ewsubscription
The URL to view all your subscriptions (you can create multiple folders to sort posts) is: http://support.dataaccess.com/forums...1&folderid=all

The forum's built-in subscription feature is nice because it will track your subscribed threads no matter where you log in from or what browser you use, plus you can get email notifications of new posts.

You can also change your subscription defaults from your UserCP > Edit Options to automatically subscribe you to any thread you post to.

Another way to track threads is by using your browser's bookmarks. I sometimes use this method to store links to specific individual posts, rather than a whole thread.
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Updated 26-Mar-2010 at 12:56 PM by Dennis Piccioni

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