Elements of run-time error handling
Errors and error handling
When you are programming an application, you need to consider what happens when an error occurs. An error can occur in your application for one of two of reasons. First, some condition at the time the application is running makes otherwise valid code fail. For example, if your code attempts to open a table that the user has deleted, an error occurs. Second, your code may contain improper logic that prevents it from doing what you intended. For example, an error occurs if your code attempts to divide a value by zero.
If you've implemented no error handling, then Visual Basic halts execution and displays an error message when an error occurs in your code. The user of your application is likely to be confused and frustrated when this happens. You can forestall many problems by including thorough error-handling routines in your code to handle any error that may occur.
When adding error handling to a procedure, you should consider how the procedure will route execution when an error occurs. The first step in routing execution to an error handler is to enable an error handler by including some form of the On Error statement within the procedure. The On Error statement directs execution in event of an error. If there's no On Error statement, Visual Basic simply halts execution and displays an error message when an error occurs.
When an error occurs in a procedure with an enabled error handler, Visual Basic doesn't display the normal error message. Instead it routes execution to an error handler, if one exists. When execution passes to an enabled error handler, that error handler becomes active. Within the active error handler, you can determine the type of error that occurred and address it in the manner that you choose. Access provides three objects that contain information about errors that have occurred, the ADO Error object, the Visual Basic Err object, and the DAO Error object.
Routing execution when an error occurs
An error handler specifies what happens within a procedure when an error occurs. For example, you may want the procedure to end if a certain error occurs, or you may want to correct the condition that caused the error and resume execution. The On Error and Resume statements determine how execution proceeds in the event of an error.
On Error statement
The On Error statement enables or disables an error-handling routine. If an error-handling routine is enabled, execution passes to the error-handling routine when an error occurs.
There are three forms of the On Error statement: On Error GoTo label, On Error GoTo 0, and On Error Resume Next. The On Error GoTo label statement enables an error-handling routine, beginning with the line on which the statement is found. You should enable the error-handling routine before the first line at which an error could occur. When the error handler is active and an error occurs, execution passes to the line specified by the label argument.
The line specified by the label argument should be the beginning of the error-handling routine. For example, the following procedure specifies that if an error occurs, execution passes to the line labeled:
Function MayCauseAnError() ' Enable error handler. On Error GoTo Error_MayCauseAnError . ' Include code here that may generate error. . . Error_MayCauseAnError: . ' Include code here to handle error. . . End Function
The On Error GoTo 0 statement disables error handling within a procedure. It doesn't specify line 0 as the start of the error-handling code, even if the procedure contains a line numbered 0. If there's no On Error GoTo 0 statement in your code, the error handler is automatically disabled when the procedure has run completely. The On Error GoTo 0 statement resets the properties of the Err object, having the same effect as the Clear method of the Err object.
The On Error Resume Next statement ignores the line that causes an error and routes execution to the line following the line that caused the error. Execution isn't interrupted. You can use the On Error Resume Next statement if you want to check the properties of the Err object immediately after a line at which you anticipate an error will occur, and handle the error within the procedure rather than in an error handler.
The Resume statement directs execution back to the body of the procedure from within an error-handling routine. You can include a Resume statement within an error-handling routine if you want execution to continue at a particular point in a procedure. However, a Resume statement isn't necessary; you can also end the procedure after the error-handling routine.
There are three forms of the Resume statement. The Resume or Resume 0 statement returns execution to the line at which the error occurred. The Resume Next statement returns execution to the line immediately following the line at which the error occurred. The Resume label statement returns execution to the line specified by the label argument. The label argument must indicate either a line label or a line number.
You typically use the Resume or Resume 0 statement when the user must make a correction. For example, if you prompt the user for the name of a table to open, and the user enters the name of a table that doesn't exist, you can prompt the user again and resume execution with the statement that caused the error.
You use the Resume Next statement when your code corrects for the error within an error handler, and you want to continue execution without rerunning the line that caused the error. You use the Resume label statement when you want to continue execution at another point in the procedure, specified by the label argument. For example, you might want to resume execution at an exit routine, as described in the following section.
Exiting a procedure
When you include an error-handling routine in a procedure, you should also include an exit routine, so that the error-handling routine will run only if an error occurs. You can specify an exit routine with a line label in the same way that you specify an error-handling routine.
For example, you can add an exit routine to the example in the previous section. If an error doesn't occur, the exit routine runs after the body of the procedure. If an error occurs, then execution passes to the exit routine after the code in the error-handling routine has run. The exit routine contains an Exit statement.
Function MayCauseAnError() ' Enable error handler. On Error GoTo Error_MayCauseAnError . ' Include code here that may generate error. . . Exit_MayCauseAnError: Exit Function Error_MayCauseAnError: . ' Include code to handle error. . . ' Resume execution with exit routine to exit function. Resume Exit_MayCauseAnError End Function
Handling errors in nested procedures
When an error occurs in a nested procedure that doesn't have an enabled error handler, Visual Basic searches backward through the calls list for an enabled error handler in another procedure, rather than simply halting execution. This provides your code with an opportunity to correct the error within another procedure. For example, suppose Procedure A calls Procedure B, and Procedure B calls Procedure C. If an error occurs in Procedure C and there's no enabled error handler, Visual Basic checks Procedure B, then Procedure A, for an enabled error handler. If one exists, execution passes to that error handler. If not, execution halts and an error message is displayed.
Visual Basic also searches backward through the calls list for an enabled error handler when an error occurs within an active error handler. You can force Visual Basic to search backward through the calls list by raising an error within an active error handler with the Raise method of the Err object. This is useful for handling errors that you don't anticipate within an error handler. If an unanticipated error occurs, and you regenerate that error within the error handler, then execution passes back up the calls list to find another error handler, which may be set up to handle the error.
For example, suppose Procedure C has an enabled error handler, but the error handler doesn't correct for the error that has occurred. Once the error handler has checked for all the errors that you've anticipated, it can regenerate the original error. Execution then passes back up the calls list to the error handler in Procedure B, if one exists, providing an opportunity for this error handler to correct the error. If no error handler exists in Procedure B, or if it fails to correct for the error and regenerates it again, then execution passes to the error handler in Procedure A, assuming one exists.
To illustrate this concept in another way, suppose that you have a nested procedure that includes error handling for a type mismatch error, an error which you've anticipated. At some point, a division-by-zero error, which you haven't anticipated, occurs within Procedure C. If you've included a statement to regenerate the original error, then execution passes back up the calls list to another enabled error handler, if one exists. If you've corrected for a division-by-zero error in another procedure in the calls list, then the error will be corrected. If your code doesn't regenerate the error, then the procedure continues to run without correcting the division-by-zero error. This in turn may cause other errors within the set of nested procedures.
In summary, Visual Basic searches back up the calls list for an enabled error handler if:
An error occurs in a procedure that doesn't include an enabled error handler.
An error occurs within an active error handler. If you use the Raise method of the Err object to raise an error, you can force Visual Basic to search backward through the calls list for an enabled error handler.
Getting information about an error
After execution has passed to the error-handling routine, your code must determine which error has occurred and address it. Visual Basic and Access provide several language elements that you can use to get information about a specific error. Each is suited to different types of errors. Since errors can occur in different parts of your application, you need to determine which to use in your code based on what errors you expect.
The language elements available for error handling include:
ADO Error object and Errors collection
DAO Error object and Errors collection
The Err object is provided by Visual Basic. When a Visual Basic error occurs, information about that error is stored in the Err object. The Err object maintains information about only one error at a time. When a new error occurs, the Err object is updated to include information about that error instead.
To get information about a particular error, you can use the properties and methods of the Err object:
- The Number property is the default property of the Err object; it returns the identifying number of the error that occurred.
- The Err object's Description property returns the descriptive string associated with a Visual Basic error.
- The Clear method clears the current error information from the Err object.
- The Raise method generates a specific error and populates the properties of the Err object with information about that error.
The following example shows how to use the Err object in a procedure that may cause a type mismatch error:
Function MayCauseAnError() ' Declare constant to represent likely error. Const conTypeMismatch As Integer = 13 On Error GoTo Error_MayCauseAnError . ' Include code here that may generate error. . . Exit_MayCauseAnError: Exit Function Error_MayCauseAnError: ' Check Err object properties. If Err = conTypeMismatch Then . ' Include code to handle error. . . Else ' Regenerate original error. Dim intErrNum As Integer intErrNum = Err Err.Clear Err.Raise intErrNum End If ' Resume execution with exit routine to exit function. Resume Exit_MayCauseAnError End Function
Note that in the preceding example, the Raise method is used to regenerate the original error. If an error other than a type mismatch error occurs, execution will be passed back up the calls list to another enabled error handler, if one exists.
The Err object provides you with all the information you need about Visual Basic errors. However, it doesn't give you complete information about Access errors or Access database engine errors. Access and Data Access Objects (DAO)) provide additional language elements to assist you with those errors.
Error object and Errors collection
The Error object and Errors collection are provided by ADO and DAO. The Error object represents an ADO or DAO error. A single ADO or DAO operation may cause several errors, especially if you are performing DAO ODBC operations. Each error that occurs during a particular data access operation has an associated Error object. All the Error objects associated with a particular ADO or DAO operation are stored in the Errors collection, the lowest-level error being the first object in the collection and the highest-level error being the last object in the collection.
When a ADO or DAO error occurs, the Visual Basic Err object contains the error number for the first object in the Errors collection. To determine whether additional ADO or DAO errors have occurred, check the Errors collection. The values of the ADO Number or DAO Number properties and the ADO Description or DAO Description properties of the first Error object in the Errors collection should match the values of the Number and Description properties of the Visual Basic Err object.
You can use the Raise method of the Err object to generate a Visual Basic error that hasn't actually occurred and determine the descriptive string associated with that error. However, you can't use the Raise method to generate a Access error, an ADO error, or a DAO error. To determine the descriptive string associated with an Access error, an ADO error, or a DAO error that hasn't actually occurred, use the AccessError method.
You can use the Error event to trap errors that occur on an Access form or report. For example, if a user tries to enter text in a field whose data type is Date/Time, the Error event occurs. If you add an Error event procedure to an Employees form, then try to enter a text value in the HireDate field, the Error event procedure runs.
The Error event procedure takes an integer argument, DataErr. When an Error event procedure runs, the DataErr argument contains the number of the Access error that occurred. Checking the value of the DataErr argument within the event procedure is the only way to determine the number of the error that occurred. The Err object isn't populated with error information after the Error event occurs. You can use the value of the DataErr argument together with the AccessError method to determine the number of the error and its descriptive string.
The Error statement and Error function are provided for backward compatibility only. When writing new code, use the Err and Error objects, the AccessError function, and the Error event for getting information about an error.
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