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Debugging on user side [basic]

Debugging is a popular term used to describe a process of removing errors (or any kind of unwanted behavior) from a source code. Developing in Flash Professional or FlashDevelop we already have an access to pretty good debugging tool, which no doubt helped all of us fix at least few problems. Unfortunately debugger can only used by the developers themselves and they can not always foreseeing every possible scenario users might find themselves in. Which is why it is always a good idea to implement a mechanism for catching any errors from the user side - lets have a look at the most popular ones.

1. Main Loop.
This, what might seem to be a trivial thing, should be a part of every self-respected applications and not only because it makes debugging a much easier process, but also helps avoid memory leaks and makes whole code easier to read. But what exactly is a "main loop"? In Flash it basically comes down to having only ONE "ENTER_FRAME" event in whole application, which means every other function will executed directly (or indirectly) from the main loop. Such approach will make catching errors a trivial task, as it only requires a simple try and catch around loop's code, ensuring we always stay in control. Here is an example of a main loop:

public function render(e:Event):void {
	try {
	} catch(e:Error) {

2. Log.
Even though catching errors is very important, they might useless without information about circumstances that surround them, which is why a log that details all key functions used by the user is second most important element in every application. Writing down user status (Flash version, user's operating system etc.), button they press or windows they opened, or in case of games, what map they are on, what is their progress and events they already completed will help us recreate the scenario in which user encountered the problem.
Log class is always the easiest one to implement:

public class Log {
	private static var log:String = "";
	public function Log() {}
	public static function add(s:String):void {
		log += s+"n";
	public static function toClipboard():void {

3. Console.
Most likely there is no PC gamer didn't ever use a console, even if it only was to enable the "god mode". By console I mean a (usually hidden) applications commend line, which allows every user to fire a predefined functions at any given moment. Implementation of a good console requires a good deal of work, but luckily there is already a nice selection of ready solutions on the Internet, like for example: Flash Console. Everyone should try out creating a console for their application - one time is enough to fall in love for them.

Finally, when our application is ready, it is a good idea to replace the trace function in the main loop with something that will help us receive any possible error's information, by for example sending an e-mail.

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