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Problem definition exampleLet us look at an example of how to properly define a problem using the debugging elements suggested by Professor Parr. For example, a definition of a problem might be:We have created a promotion and it does not behave as expected. The problem is repeatable for each promotion we create.The problem is reproducible - that is a very good start. What can we deduce from it? One deduction is that there is some kind of defect in the promotion creation code in WebSphere Commerce Accelerator. Is that really likely? No, WebSphere Commerce Accelerator does create promotions successfully - we must have tested it too, but perhaps we applied a bad fix or perhaps we are not running the copy of WebSphere Commerce Accelerator we think we are. It is a worth a quick scan and an ask-around to see if there is a chance something is awry with WebSphere Commerce Accelerator, Did we test it? If nothing turns up quickly, we would be better spending our time trying to reduce the problem to identify what we are doing differently. What is it about our way of creating promotions that is specific? Let us get away from the details and think about the bigger picture. What else is going on here? What else is involved in creating these promotions and displaying them on the Web site that is specific to these promotions, but might have nothing to do with the actual task of creating them? In our example it turns out that these are not simple “out-of-the-box” promotions, but have been customized.The promotions are customized promotions that are being loaded manually into the database.With this background information it seems less likely that WebSphere Commerce Accelerator is the problem and it seems more likely that the promotions data being loaded is the source of the problem.Now try creating “out-of-the-box” promotions and see if they work. If they do, it looks a lot more likely the problem is to do with loading customized promotions into the database. Perhaps that was never tested?There is still a lot to do in this problem definition, and in the end it might turn out to be a bug in IBM code rather than in operating procedures, user input, or customized code. But the time you have spent defining the problem is not wasted — IBM support might well guide you through the same procedure anyhow, and the information you are able to provide is likely to be more valuable to the support engineers than say a trace of the “Create promotion” task, when the problem actually lay in a quite different piece of code you might not have traced.ReproducibleDeductionExperienceReductionDeductionExperimentation
366Planning and Managing the Deployment of WebSphere CommerceThe time to call for support is when you have successfully reduced the problem to an interface with WebSphere Commerce by a process of elimination or reduction, or the evidence (such as a trace) is pointing at IBM code, or you are unable to make any more headway. But there is one more possibility to try before calling support. The IBM Support Assistant.