How are traps handled?

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Question

A trap occurs when the processor in your PC is unable to carry out the operation requested. For example, if a program attempts to “divide by zero”, the processor will cause a trap and your program may be terminated immediatly. If you were using a word processor when this happened, all your work up to that point will be lost and you will need to start again.

Traps can occur for many reasons – for example, a faulty memory chip, unprotected operations, buffer over-runs, etc. Typically a trap will occur a long time after the actual fault occurred. So finding and resolving traps from the information provided by the operating system is extremely challenging.

Answer

Ever wondered why Gordano products don’t produce exceptions and traps? The reason is that special customer care mechanisms are built into the design of our products. Not bolted on afterwards.

When version 4 of our products was designed in 1997, introducing a way to help programmers fix traps efficiently was considered extremely important. Every trap fixed improves the reliability of the software. So a special set of code was introduced to do the following:

  • Monitor all the threads in each process.
  • If a trap occurs, log the information into a file so that a Development Engineer has enough data to resolve the problem.
  • Restart the thread so that no denial-of-service attack is possible.

The files that are generated are written into the Log directory and have the extensions .snt and .wtg. (See FAQ 299: “What are .snt and .wtg files?”). These files are then sent directly to our development team. If you do not want us to see these trap files and prefer to handle them manually, you can switch off the automatic posting to us.

The result of this system has been impressive. Since version 4, when hundreds of traps were identified, we are down to several traps per version. This represents almost “bomb proof” software and impressive up-times for customers.

We were several years ahead of anybody else in the market. Even Microsoft only just announced in January 2001 that they will be introducing a similar mechanism into their products in the following two years. So they might have it by January 2003!

See Also:

Keywords:support, help, trap, traps, .snt, .wtg

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