On Compiler Error Messages: What TheySayand What TheyMean

V. Javier Traver
2010 Advances in Human-Computer Interaction  
Programmers often encounter cryptic compiler error messages that are difficult to understand and thus difficult to resolve. Unfortunately, most related disciplines, including compiler technology, have not paid much attention to this important aspect that affects programmers significantly, apparently because it is felt that programmers should adapt to compilers. In this article, however, this problem is studied from the perspective of the discipline of human-computer interaction to gain insight
more » ... nto why compiler errors messages make the work of programmers more difficult, and how this situation can be alleviated. Additionally, because poorly designed error messages affect novice programmers more adversely, the problems faced by computer science students while learning to program are analyzed, and the obstacles originated by compilers are identified. Examples of actual compiler error messages are provided and carefully commented. Finally, some possible measures that can be taken are outlined, and some principles for compiler error message design are included.
doi:10.1155/2010/602570 fatcat:qjwfncbrkzf5zhi7nyqyimiky4