Getting Help on HomeVisionXL

Contact information

If you need general assistance with some aspect of HomeVisionXL the best place to ask for help will be the homevision-users list on Yahoo! Groups. Other users may be able to help or learn from these type of questions. You can join the homevision-users mailing list by entering your email address below:

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In the not totally impossible case that you think you have found a bug in HomeVisionXL there's probably not much assistance other users can provide. So bugs you can report directly to me:

Schelte Bron
email address

Even if you can work around the problem I would still like to know about any bugs you find. It's very frustrating to see people on the homevision-users list helping other people with remarks like: "I had that problem too and worked around it in the following way ...", but they never informed me about the problem. I can't fix bugs I don't know about and someday other people will run into it too.

Helping yourself

Before you ask for help try finding the answer using the available resources:
  • Search the archives of the homevision-users list.
  • Look in the help pages. Note that also several plug-ins have help pages available.
  • Read the FAQ.
  • Look around the HomeVisionXL web site for more information.
  • Search the HomeVisionXL wiki.
  • Check if a newer version of HomeVisionXL or the plug-in is available and verify if the problem is still present in the latest version.
  • If you're a programmer, read the plug-in source code.

Basic information

When asking for help or reporting a problem try to include as much information as possible. At the very least report the type of HomeVision controller and which version PROM you have, which OS you are using, which version of HomeVisionXL, which plug-in is involved and which version of the plug-in you have installed. Always report errors exactly as they are produced by the program. Don't summarize what you think it says.

Reporting bugs

The tech-info feature of HomeVisionXL will collect a lot of information about the environment the program is running in. Most errors should be logged in the errors.log file. So, in general those two files should always be included with bug reports.

In addition, describe what you were doing when the problem occurred. The first sign of the problem is usually the most informative one. If you have dismissed the first error box and then keep on getting problems they are likely related to that first error. So, the most interesting information is what was happening when that first error appeared.

Describe which inputs caused the problem. For example: In case of problems with serial commands the homevision controller sends to the PC specify the exact contents of the serial strings.

If you don't consider it too much of a security risk, depending on the type of problem, it may be very helpful to also send your schedule file and the HomeVisionXL resource file (~/.homevisionrc or homevision.ini). If the problem is related to a plug-in and that plug-in uses its own configuration file, also consider attaching that file to the bug report.

General assistance

When asking for help, describe the problem you are actually trying to solve. If you have already taken steps towards a possible solution but got stuck, don't ask how to get around that specific problem. Describe your end goal. There may be a better way to handle the original issue than the path you took and were getting stuck on.

Mention what you have already done to try and solve the problem and which results those attempts produced. Don't use descriptions like: "The only way I could get it working again was to restart HomeVisionXL" without elaborating. Describe exactly which ways you have tried. There may be other methods you are unaware of, or simply didn't think of.

Send mails in plain text format. Only if there's no way to convey your message in plain text you can use some other cross-platform format (HTML, PDF). Don't send attachments in a proprietary format like MS word or TNEF. Not everybody may be able to view those type of documents and you may end up sidelining exactly the person who would have been able to help you.

Screenshots should be created in a lossless image format like GIF or PNG. JPEG is not a suitable image format for screenshots. Don't even use JPEG in some intermediate step, because then the damage has already been done. Even if the problem can still be seen on screenshots in JPEG format, they are hard on the eyes.

Making solutions findable

Use meaningful subject headers. Subject headers like "HomeVisionXL problem" or "Need help" are useless to people searching the archives looking for a solution to the same problem later.

If you are subscribed to the digest version of the homevision-users mailing list and you respond to a message, use the subject of that message on your reply mail. Don't leave it at the default of something like "RE: [HOMEVIS] Digest Number 2518". Such a subject contains no useful information.

Create a new thread when bringing up a different issue. Don't reply to a mail group message about a different subject if you address a new issue, even if you change the subject header. Continuing a thread about a different subject will make the message hard to find later, both for other users with the same problem and for people willing to help.

Don't use screenshots for error messages. Please report the error messages in plain text. The text can usually be copy/pasted from the error box or the error.log file. Screenshots make it impossible to use text searches to later find the error in the archives.

Follow up

Always report back the results of the suggestions and possible solutions you have been given. For people who run into the same problem later it will be good to know whether one of the answers leads to a solution, and which one that is. But even more so as a courtesy to the people who have been helping you with your problem and may still be thinking about alternative solutions. For those people it is very annoying not knowing if the problem was solved or you just lost interest. Failing to report back may reduce their willingness to help you again on your next question. And don't wait with reporting back until you have a next question either.

Last modified: 25 November 2009, 22:09 CET