The Computer Scientist Nightmare: My Favorite Bug

Manuel Serrano 1, *
* Corresponding author
1 INDES - Secure Diffuse Programming
CRISAM - Inria Sophia Antipolis - Méditerranée
Abstract : Hop has recently been used by a small French company, which we will call AIMM in the rest of this paper, to implement a new widget for a web multimedia application. This widget contained two parts: a music selector that lets end users browse a database of artists and music, and an HTML5 music player supporting on-demand conversion from one music format to another. Figure 1 presents a screenshot of the widget. The music player is on the top, the database browser on the bottom. Clicking an artist name pushes a new panel presenting the songs that artist has produced. Clicking the small black arrow to the left of the name restores the previous panel. Graphical effects improve user experience. Depending on the speed of the platform and the web browser used, a new panel slides from left to right or blends into the previous one. More than a real application, this was an endeavor, or an evaluation in order to understand how Hop fits in the context of realistic multimedia web application. The development was a priori easy because all the elements needed to implement the widget were provided by the Hop development kit off the shelf. I was in charge of the development that I estimated would take only a handful of days. With the AIMM engineers, we agreed on a common API that Hop could use to access the actual database; then I started to develop the widget. After a couple of days, everything went as we wished. The prototype was operational. Early tests showed that it was reliable enough to enter the second stage: to be tested on the AIMM server. The AIMM server was a classical Linux Debian hosted by an x86/64 processor. A usual setting, almost the same as the one I used for developing the widget. After having installed additional Linux packages required by Hop, I installed the development kit and the prototype. Then I started to test the widget. At first, it seemed to be doing perfectly well. Everything seemed to be working as it should, until I realized that, on some browsers, clicking the artist names on the selector produced no effect. The new panel never showed up. Plagued with this erroneous behavior, the application was utterly useless. So began the battle I fought to understand and eliminate that bug.
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Contributor : Manuel Serrano <>
Submitted on : Friday, July 1, 2016 - 8:39:15 AM
Last modification on : Thursday, January 11, 2018 - 5:01:49 PM
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Manuel Serrano. The Computer Scientist Nightmare: My Favorite Bug. A List of Successes That Can Change the World : Essays Dedicated to Philip Wadler on the Occasion of His 60th Birthday, 9600, Springer, pp.356-366, 2016, Lecture Notes on Computer Science, 978-3-319-30936-1. ⟨http://events.inf.ed.ac.uk/wf2016/⟩. ⟨hal-01340384⟩

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