Tuesday, May 12, 2009

One website, extra fail

So the e-commerce site on which I'm working is in "beta" now, and by "beta", I mean whatever comes before alpha. (I know the Greek alphabet, I rushed a fraternity once. Hey, they had free beer. The irony was that I wouldn't have made grades even if I'd got in.) Small company, no testing department, a language not well suited to unit testing (well, two languages) ...

I'm working through the first round of bugs and tracking them in JIRA (we took advantage of the Stimulus Package offer, a five-user license for $5), and one of them was a tricky one, or so I thought.

Like most places, you can register before or after you order, whichever you like. Unlike most places, we want to require all information because we have a very limited customer base and need to be able to get in touch with them for important things like pricing and confirmation. Thus, when they submit the registration form, I wanted to indicate which fields had been omitted (in case they weren't sure). Easy enough, I'll just highlight the label next to the field, like so:


Except it didn't work. No matter what I checked, the page refused to highlight the missing labels in red.

Today, I figured it out. You see, computers are very good at doing what you tell them to do. If you're very good at programming, they do exactly what you tell them to do, regardless of any differences between what you said and what you meant. (I like to think of them as having the mindset of disgruntled twelve-year-old boys: don't tell them to pour a glass of milk unless you also say "in the glass".)

In this case, I was telling it to highlight the field in red, not the label, so it did ... and I had no way to see this in practice, because the only way to tell was if there was text in the box (to turn red), and if there was text in the box, then it wouldn't be an error and wouldn't be marked as such ...


And to think I'm working on my master's. (That reminds me, I need to get moving on that application. Yeah, I do like not having any homework ...)

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