An error occurred in Xmarks

4 January 2014 | Xmarks Bookmark Sync extension for Chrome

Context

Recently I installed this tool Xmarks for syncing bookmarks across browsers. This message comes from the Xmarks extension for the Chrome browser. Xmarks displays a button on the browser bar. A small question mark on red background overlaying the icon signaled some strange condition, so I needed to figure out what was going on.

I got the message “An error occurred” when I pointed the icon.

Problem

A message that says “An error occurred” is not helping me in any way. Is Xmarks still syncing my bookmarks or not? Am I supposed to do something? What kind of an error?…

This is one of the laziest error message you can encounter. I can imagine that the developer who wrote the browser add-in is communicating in some way with a server or something. The code that the developer wrote does not know what the error is. The code only knows there is some error – probably some “exception is thrown” (developers love to say that). All the skills or time that the developer had is show a message that at least reads in a meaningful way to humans “An error occurred”. It is up to users to figure it out.

On click, a menu shows up that has nothing to do with the message.

Fix

Show a meaningful messages that can help users understand what the problem is and take some actions to fix it, or if the problem is such that it is beyond the user’s ability to do something, keep calm and continue using the browser.

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