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HOW TO ASK FOR HELP

If you have problems...

There are many things you can do if you have a problem. Some are polite, some are not. Some are helpful, some are not. The way you go about getting help will determine your success. For a general guide of how to ask for help, read How To Ask Questions The Smart Way. (Note: The authors of that essay are not connected to BlueJ, and cannot answer BlueJ-related questions. Do not mail them about your problem!)

Here is a short summary of the most important points.

Read the FAQ!

Many problem are described in the Frequently Asked Question list (FAQ - here!). Read it! It is considered very impolite to mail support staff with trivial questions that are answered here. Our support people are very busy, and re-typing things from the FAQ is not a good use of their time.

Read other help documents

For some questions, the tips archive is a good source of information. Look at it before going on.

Ask someone around you

If you are at a college or university, try first asking another student, tutor, or lecturer. We have several hundred thousand users all over the world - if they all always ask us, then we cannot help anyone!

Try to identify the problem

Ask yourself: is this really a BlueJ problem that I am seeing, or maybe a Java problem? Run some tests. If you can, execute another Java application - does it work? Try to find out (if you can) whether you have a BlueJ problem or a Java problem.

Ask the right people

If you can't solve the problem for yourself, there are several options.

  • For technical support problems - such as problems with installing or running BlueJ - you can use the support request form.

  • For general discussion of BlueJ features and concepts, consider joining the bluej-discuss mailing list.

  • For general java questions - that is, questions about Java programming or other issues which are specific to Java but not specific to BlueJ - the best option is to try a forum dedicated to that purpose. There are some resources listed here.

When sending mail or posting to a forum, there are several important things that you should think about:

Use the support form

As mentioned above, the support form can be found here:

BlueJ support request form

The support form is for technical support, not for help with programming in general. Be aware that real people receive the information you supply - so it helps to give as much information as you can.

Be polite

Politeness never hurts, and sometimes helps. Mails saying that "this all sucks, what a %#*'*€..." are not likely to be answered with the same patience as are polite mails. After all, you are dealing with normal people at the other end.

Use easily readable formats

Send your mail in a format that is easy to read. Mails stating "Here is a scrrenshot of my problem, in the ultra-cool tpeg-3000 image format (which you can open with MultiImage.exe, which you find on all good shareware sites)" are, frankly, a pain in the neck. They cause unnecessary work for our support people.

Wherever possible, use plain text messages. Avoid text processor documents.

Be precise

When asking for help because something does not work, be precise in describing what is happening. This includes a detailed description of what you did, and a full copy of the output.

You'd be surprised at the amount of messages we get that state "I did everything just as you wrote on your page, and it's not working." That's all. There is not much we can reply to this. In 95% of those cases, people did not do everything that was written on the web page.

What information to include

If you have a technical problem and you want to mail our support people, please include the following information:

  • which operating system you are using;
  • which Java version you are using;
  • which version of BlueJ you are using;
  • the path where jdk is installed;
  • the path where BlueJ is installed;
  • the exact sequence of actions you took before the error occurred;
  • the exact output that is produced. In BlueJ 1.3 and below this is often in the DOS/command line window. In BlueJ 1.3.5 and above the output is stored in a debug log file. The location of this file can be found in BlueJ->About BlueJ. Do not just copy the end of these messages - the top is usually much more important;
  • For MacOS users, error output will appear in the system console (Applications/Utilities/Console). Include error messages from here (if any) in your mail.
Thank you!

 

 
 

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