What To Do If Your App Is Broken

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You'll probably spend more time trying to fix random errors than you will building your app. You might have heard jokes of programmers spending all night trying to fix an error only to find out that they were missing a simple comma. So if you run into an error, you're not alone — debugging happens to the best of us. If you're stuck, here's some ideas to help you debug your app.

Error pages usually help you find the problem

Generally the error page you get when developing locally will tell you what and where the problem is. Here, I have a syntax error on line 13 in my views.py file.

The offending line:

return render(request, 'search/search.html' {

Nothing obvious on first glance, but it really should be:

return render(request, 'search/search.html', {

Missing comma! Those pesky things. Easy to fix once you find it, though.

What do you do if your error page isn't so helpful?

Googling the error usually comes up with helpful answers

Copy/paste the error into Google and chances are, someone else had the same error and it's already answered — usually on Stack Overflow (http://hellobks.com/36), which is an immensely helpful website that people use to ask and answer programming questions.

Ask for help

You might have scanned your code inch by inch looking for the issue, and Googling isn't helping. What now?


IRC is essentially chat, with "rooms" that can be based around a topic, like Django. It's a little complicated to get going and might seem intimidating, but generally the strangers and future friends on IRC are happy to help others who are having problems.

If you already know how to use IRC, here are a couple channels on freenode to ask questions:

  • #django
  • #python
  • ##learnpython
  • #pyladies

(Of course, make sure to be polite and specific as possible when explaining your problem.)

New to IRC? Check out our IRC page on the Hello Web App GitHub page here: http://hellobks.com/37.

Stack Overflow

Obviously, you can also ask for help on Stack Overflow. Just like IRC, make sure to be as descriptive as possible when explaining your issue. Here's a link to ask a question on Stack Overflow: http://hellobks.com/38.

Mailing List

There is a django-users mailing list (http://hellobks.com/39) where people ask questions and help each other. If you're not in a rush, this could be a good place to write up your problem and get some feedback on how to proceed.

Before posting, it's good form to search through the archive(http://hellobks.com/40) to see if somebody asked a similar question yet. This will also help you get a feel for the format that most messages are in.

Meetups and developer events

Need face to face help? There are hundreds of meetups and developer events worldwide, and there is likely one in the city near you. Here are some great organizations that run meetups and places to find meetups:

You can also search for "Python meetup YOURCITY" to see if there is something happening near you.

These events are also a great place to meet new friends and expand your programming community!

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