Monitor and Investigate Exceptions

When exceptions (unhandled fatal errors) occur they're logged (to the database) in case they are the result of bugs in the web application and require action to be taken by the webmaster. In both applications, exceptions are handled the same way:

  1. they get picked up by the Rails notification system (see config/initializers/notifications.rb),
  2. the Failure class decides whether they are worth logging,
  3. if so, a new failure record is created with details of the exception,
  4. the webmaster can view the list of failures and take appropriate action.

Some exceptions are due to hackers probing for weaknesses. The IP address the request is always recorded to as part of the failure details.

There are some differences in the way failures are presented to the webmaster in the two web sites.


In the main ICU site, failures can be in two states: active and inactive and are always in the active state when first created. When the webmaster logs in and there are some active failures a small badge appears at the top of all web pages notifying the webmaster that there are active failures. If this badge is clicked, the list of active failures is displayed. Alternatively, the list of failures can always be accessed via the Failures link under the Admin tab of the top navigation bar.

For each active failure, the webmaster can do one of three things:

When the webmaster makes a failure inactive it's like saying "I'm not sure about this but I'll save it in case I need to look at it again later". The warning badge is not displayed if there are only inactive failures.


On the ratings site there is no warning badge and no active/inactive states for failures. The list of current failures can be reached in two ways:

The webmaster should:

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