Help us help you Tip 2

Troubleshooting applications can difficult for a support enginner when the application is enormous, even if the problem itself is relatively small. Depending on how an application is archetected and the experience of the developer who wrote it a seemingly small issue can have an unintutive root cause. Which leads me to Tip number 2.

Can you reproduce the problem in a simple example file outside the context of your larger application?

•  Often timing, performance or general mismanagement of memory and system resources can manifest bugs that are very hard to track down. If you can’t reproduce the problem in a new file, support will not be able to either, and the needle in a haystack hunt will be required. Since we have to have to help dozens and dozens of users from all over the world, and don’t normally have the resources to allow us to check every line of the often 1200 or so lines of code a user may send it is actually to your advantage to focus on isolating your problem before contacting support. It is not uncommon the process of creating an isolated sample can itself reveal the root cause of the problem. If you do have to send that 1200 lines of code though, you can expect your support engineer to provide you with advice on how to narrow down your search but you could waste an uncomfortable amount of good coding time just on phone calls and emails back and forth. Also you should be aware that we have several levels of technical support and the first two or even three engineers you have to talk with may not be equipped to work with the scale of a highly complex application. When that happens your incident must be escalated to other engineers which, can take time. If you have happen to run into a yet unreported bug you can expect that your support agent will be requesting a sample file from you anyway so if nothing else going through the motions of this process help you get to the right agent sooner. When you are chasing a deadline those few minutes count.

I hope that helps your next support experience. I welcome any comments on your experiences with Macromedia or other companies’ technical support departments.