Bug report: A grab bag of fixes

We recently fixed three issues, ranging from server reliability issues to minor problems with the user experience. This blog post explores all three.

Even when we appear to be quiet, a lot of work is going on behind the scenes to ensure that Calcapp continues performing to your expectations. In this post, we’ll highlight some of that work.

Server reliability

Calcapp experiences very little downtime, meaning that apps can be edited and run at all hours. We don’t have any “maintenance windows” during which Calcapp is unavailable. Even when we release major updates, we ensure that apps can be run, even if we have to disable app editing for a short while.

Unfortunately, we have experienced some server downtime lately. We noticed this issue several weeks ago, and started monitoring the situation closely.

Today, we once again experienced downtime, and noticed that the culprit was an innocuous-looking invalid formula:

field1 + Field2 + Field3 + Field4 + Field5 + Field6 + Field7 + Field8 + Field9 + Field10 + Field11 + Field12 + Field13 + Field14 + Field15field1 + Field2 + Field3 + Field4 + Field5 + Field6 + Field7 + Field8 + Field9 + Field10 + Field11 + Field12 + Field13 + Field14 + Field15

Notice the problem? Field1 has been subtly misspelled, “F” should not appear in lower case.

For various reasons, that particular invalid formula threw us for a loop, taking literally hours for our server to make sense of. (Had there been fewer field references in the formula, or had the misspelled field appeared later in the formula, there would have been no issue.)

Once we realized what the problem was, we were able to quickly fix it.

Bonus tip: If you want to sum all fields from Field1 through Field15, SUM(Field1:Field15)SUM(Field1:Field15) is preferable to the formula above. It’s shorter, easier to maintain and wouldn’t have caused the performance issue that brought our server to its knees.

Editing data tables with line breaks

A customer noticed a disconcerting problem today. Using our new-ish data editor, adding text cells with line breaks worked fine. (You can press Alt+Enter to insert them.) However, editing the data would produce a blank data editor, as though there was nothing there for it to edit.

While the data wasn’t technically lost, it appeared that way to our customer, as it became hard to edit. (Editing the formulas produced by the data editor would have worked as expected, though.)

Luckily, we were able to quickly find the culprit. We delivered the fix to our customer within an hour of receiving the report.

Copying and pasting fields

We’d like to think that Calcapp Creator looks simple on the surface, but hides lots of time-saving features. One such feature is that formulas are automatically updated when you change the names of various items, like fields and buttons, that may be referenced from formulas.

Another such feature is that formulas are automatically updated when you copy and paste fields. Consider two input fields, A and B, and a result field Result, whose formula is A + BA + B.

If you copy these three fields and paste them back on the same screen, the new A field is named A2 and the new B field is named B2 (so as to not conflict with the existing A and B fields). The formula of the new Result field (Result2) is changed to read A2 + B2A2 + B2, as Calcapp Creator assumes that it should reference the new fields and not the old ones.

Unfortunately, this feature broke in August last year. An intrepid customer noticed, and we were able to quickly fix the issue.

The moral of the story? If you notice unexpected behavior, please get in touch. We are deeply committed to giving you a quality experience with Calcapp, but if anything is amiss, we can’t do anything about it if we are not made aware.

In other words, please contact us through the chat widget or by emailing us if Calcapp is not performing to your satisfaction.

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