Thursday, April 2, 2020

On the importance of well-written error messages

This is funny:
"I also tried to get Fortran programs running on Imperial's IBM 7010, since I sort of knew Fortran, certainly better than I knew Cobol, and Fortran would have been better suited for data analysis. It was only after weeks of fighting JCL, IBM's Job Control Language, that I deduced that there was no Fortran compiler on the 7010, but the JCL error messages were so inscrutable that no one else had figured that out either." [1]

Indeed, even today error messages are often poorly formulated and leaving users in the dark.

IBM 7010


  1. Brian Kernighan, UNIX, A History and a Memoir, 2020. 

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