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Not even started, but I wanted this to appear on the Changes list so I remember to come back to it. (And so I see the bread crumb trail and consider discussing the multiple ways to organize pages -- WaysToOrganizePagesOnTWiki.)




I probably got up on the wrong side of the bed this morning (well, actually, I probably did -- car trouble last night -- thought I needed a jump but that didn't do it, waited an hour and a half for AAA (called again after 65 minutes), they tried then towed me home (at my request) so I could fix the problem myself. Looks like the starter. Now I have to fix it myself. ;-( Meaning I have to first clean out enough space in the garage to get the car in.)

Anyway, maybe this is also a discussion on how / why software takes so long, and what I can do to change things (some changes in personal thought habits (maybe) and maybe some other things).

The Situation

I'm going over some things on TWiki, starting the TWikiOnEryxma pages, and recognize that a (temporary) change on the WebTopicEditTemplate would be helpful.

So, I go to that page, include a few lines in a new set of HTML comment markers <!-- --> and add a few new notes.

Preview the page and there is something wrong -- stuff that should be invisible on the page is visible. So, I try to correct the problem. Look over what I did, it all looks like what I intended and should work. Fool around some more, and start removing my changes a few at a time to see what caused the problem. Eventually realize that the browser is recognizing "--" as the close of comment marker (instead of "-->).

Finding the problem was compounded because there were two instances of the problem -- the text I enclosed in comment markers had several instances of "--", and one of the notes I added was within a different set of comment markers and included a "--".

So lost track of what I was doing and started fooling around with this. Finally recognize the problem and develop a workaround. Recognize that as a good citizen I should report the bug in a place where it is likely to be at least considered and hopefully, acted upon.

In order to do so, I need to determine whether it is an HTML, TWiki, or browser bug. So, go back and recreate the problem and test it in a different browser (IE5.5) -- works OK. So I assume it's a browser (Mozilla) bug. Add appropriate notes to Support.BrowserFormattingIssues. Now there's still a chance that TWiki is using the (X)HTML markup in a way that contributes to the bug.

I should do the following before reporting the bug:

  • Make an attempt to confirm that TWiki is not causing or contributing to the bug.
  • Confirm that the bug is not already reported, or even fixed (as I am using Mozilla 1.1 -- the version that came with the current version of my distro (Mandrake 9.0), but not necessarily the latest). In the course of doing this, I have to find the Mozilla bug reporting tool (presumably Bugzilla -- oh, yeah), and make an effective search (trying to minimize the "false positives" that I have to check out).
  • Develop the smallest "snippet" of TWiki markup (or resulting) HTML that can reproduce the bug for a Mozilla developer.
  • Report the bug (and hope that it will not be rejected because I am reporting a bug against a non-current version of Mozilla (I assume 1.1 is not the current version -- maybe it is, but even that is something I have to check).

Although there are times when I might be willing to do this, there are times when I'm not. (In fact, right now I'd rather sit here and spend (possibly more) time (than I might spend doing what's listed above) to rant about the situation.

Well, what can / should be changed?

  • Possibly I should not have allowed myself to digress -- as soon as I found a problem, I could have reverted to the previous template and just carried on. (If I was fighting a war, I would probably not have that luxury, but hopefully I'd have the luxury of reserves that I could bring in to address that specific problem while I carry on to my initial objectives. Somewhat similarly, if I was managing a project (software or other) I would presumably have included some contingency in my schedule and budget and could use those to deal with such a problem.
  • But, the problem is so silly -- Mozilla should recognize "-->" as the end of comment marker but either instead of or in addition to recognizes "--" as the comment marker. At some level or in some sense, it's careless or ignorant. (But, it scares me, because, IIRC, ExtremeProgramming, one of the software development methodologies that sounds very promising to me, includes as one of its steps "do the simplest thing that is likely to work". Did someone actually consider that "--" might be just as good as "-->" and make a conscious decision? (Probably not, but it worries me.)
  • But now, "someone should" do something with respect to the bug -- see if it is already resolved, or if not at least reported, and if neither, then report it. I've wasted enough time already, and reporting it is not likely to do me much good in the near future. (If Mozilla fixed the bug today, I would be unlikely to obtain the fix until 3 to 12 months from now when a new version of Mozilla was included in a new version of Mandrake and I upgraded my machine to that new version.) (I know, if the problem was really serious to me, I could do something more interesting, like fix the bug myself, or, after Mozilla fixed it, compile a new version of Mozilla for myself. But, that does not get my original project done.

So what could be done?

I don't know. One idea I have (and it's probably not original) is to recruit a new class of volunteers to serve as bug triagers -- < I'll get back to this later>

Another is to simply post this bug on Codev or Support (more prominently than it appears on Support.BrowserFormattingIssues, and ask others to follow up on the bug testing / reporting process, perhaps by including a checklist (and "unit test").

In fact, I'll work toward that end right now -- probably a page titled Support.MozillaBugWrongCommentMarker. I'll develop a test page Support.MozillaBugWrongCommentMarkerTest.

<Currently, no significant content below this line.>


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  • () RandyKramer - 16 Jan 2003
  • <If you edit this page: add your name here; move this to the next line; and include your comment marker (initials), if you have created one, in parenthesis before your WikiName.>

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