The Secret to Power App Compat Debugging

If you come to me for advice about how to become a debugger, chances are that I’m going to give you a couple of must-read reference books, an then tell you to start paying attention. Because, unless you’re drastically more lucky than I am, stuff is probably breaking on you all the time. While a lot of problems just go away, if you let it just go away, you’ve just squandered an opportunity to debug something.

The only way to become a master at debugging is to practice. A lot.

But there’s a level even above master debugger – being somebody able to get to the bottom of most every issue (eventually – hey, even for the best, it can take time, lots and lots of time). What’s that level? The Power Debugger. Somebody who dispenses with the need for time, and just fixes things quickly because there is no alternative.

How do you reach that level?


Have a 4-year-old.

Four year olds don’t care about the challenges application compatibility. They just want their games to work, and they are quite vocal when they don’t. They look at you thinking, “why can’t you fix this? Aren’t you supposed to be able to do this? Can’t you see this is bothering me?” Oh, and then the cry. And yell. And cry. Great.

Fortunately, the solution for pre-school games is typically rather easy. For reasons that are completely beyond comprehension to me, it turns out that many developers of games for pre-schoolers assume that I want my 4-year-old to be an administrator on my computer.

RunAsAdmin, and we were on our way. Optimal solution? No. But you have to power debug with a 4-year-old.

So that leads me to this:

If you develop commercial games for pre-schoolers, I will help you debug your application so it works for standard users for free. But you have to promise to run your developer workstation either as a standard user, or as a protected administrator (that’s right, turn UAC back on) on Windows Vista or later.

Every application should run as a standard user. But games for children should have run for standard users even on XP.

Comments (3)

  1. Aaron Margosis says:

    I was wondering what Chris was going to do with the remaining 20 minutes per month of free time he had.

  2. Scott E says:

    Chris, I like most of the stuff you write, but this one in classic… "assume that I want my 4 year old to be an administrator on my computer."  It only goes to prove that most developers don’t care a lick about application security.  I’m headed home to let my 3 year old install some software!

  3. RonM says:

    I wish your 4yr. old was playing with DVDFab 5 so you would fix it. For some reason the only feature that won’t work on Win7 is "Convert to XBox" (WMV). Seems strange that everything else works fine. I haven’t been able to figure out how to fix this, and the Fab Guys don’t seem to be interested in fixing for Win7 yet… "Windows 7 isn’t supported because it’s still beta", blah, blah, blah…

    Thought I’d give ACT a go to see what I could come up with, but I’m on Win7 x64.

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