True Domino Blooper #19: Unpredictable unprocessed documents

This Domino developer got into a tight squeeze when an agent using the unprocessed document property ran amok. Read on and see what caused the disaster and how our hero saved the day.

I was working for a company that had a Web site with online forms (non-Notes) for easy submission.

Upon submitting a form, the result was an e-mail in a Notes mail-in database, which contained a "When new mail has arrived" agent. This agent was designed to send an auto-reply with a message indicating the submission had arrived, and that it would be routed to the proper company employee. This part was written in LotusScript. The agent contained the "Unprocessed document" property. Developers, are you grinning? I know my colleague was when I started explaining what had happened.

I was asked to modify the document flow that follows after the auto-reply. After several hours of programming and testing in a development environment, it was (that is, I thought it was) ready, and I let the administrator perform a "refresh design" on the production server. Fortunately I was looking over his shoulder, because he didn't notice the status bar telling him that about 1500 e-mails had been sent! All the e-mails in the inbox of the mail-in database were auto-replied again. (Archiving the e-mails was scheduled for later.) Some e-mails were more than a year old (ouch!).

What had happened?
Modifying the agent (just saving it again will suffice) resulted in resetting the "unprocessed document" property on all the existing documents. So all the documents were unprocessed once more according to my agent.

Later that day we sent an e-mail to all the submitters telling them that our systems had made a mistake and that they should ignore the e-mail. It's always those stupid computers.

I learned from this blooper! Oh, yes! I got to know the "unprocessed document" property very well. And ever since then, I always ask for a copy of the production database. This way I am sure that I have a representative set of testing documents.


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 Every story in our bloopers series comes to us directly from a SearchDomino.com administrator, developer or consultant. For obvious reasons, some contributors -- including this tale's author -- choose to remain anonymous.


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This was first published in July 2003

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