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Prefactoring by Ken Pugh

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3.9. Dealing with Deviations and Errors

Dealing with error conditions is probably the hardest part of the development effort. Errors fall into at least two categories: conditions that arise in the normal operation of the program, and failures in the environment in which the program is operating.

I prefer the term deviation for an error that occurs during normal processing. A deviation is a departure from straightforward processing that can occur during normal program operation. Most use case logic deals with straightforward logic. The user does this, the system responds with that. In the normal course of processing, the system needs to deviate from this straightforwardness.

For example, it is possible that a CustomerID is entered that does not equal any of the IDs in the set of Customers. This could occur because the CustomerID was input incorrectly or the Customer was deleted because the customer had not rented for several years. If the collection of customers is kept on a server, causes include a network failure or server failure.

The first set of causes for a CustomerID not being found are deviations that can occur during normal processing. A correction mechanism can be suggested to the user (e.g., reenter the ID), though user action might not solve the problem.[*] The second set of causes (network or server failure) are errors, not deviations. They should not occur during normal operation. However, if the server or network were known to be unreliable, they could be handled ...

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