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Error Codes FAQ
Avoiding Errors

First: many errors are unavoidable; if you knew an error was coming, you’d take steps to avoid it. But once you’ve seen an error, knowing whether it was caused by the System, Helix, or a programming mistake on your part may allow you to take corrective action, or to at least work around the error.

As with any problem, maintaining good backups is your best defense against devastating errors. We recommend Time Machine without reservation as an excellent way to make the process of making backup transparent and painless. Should an error occur that you are unable to resolve through other means, reverting to the last good version of the collection is the last line of defense.

If you find that you have discovered a repeatable error, we encourage you to contact technical support or file a bug report, as we are always eager address repeatable problems.

Helix Error Codes (4 Character)

The Helix error codes referred to here are 4 character codes, typically starting with 5 or 7, that appear when Helix is about to abruptly quit. These may indicate a problem within Helix or within your collection, or they may be in response to a system glitch (power fluctuation, network noise, etc.) that could result in more serious errors, if allowed to pass through.

Although it may feel like a ‘distinction without a difference,’ it is important to note that these are not crashes, per se. In these cases, Helix is effectively saying, “something looks wrong here, so we’re going to exit before serious damage can be done.” In that light, these error codes are protective and should be looked at as helpful safeguards. (Yes, that’s cold comfort when your collection is showing these errors, but it is true.)

A list of these error codes is published via techdb, our online Helix collection. This error code list is not actively maintained, and some of the information is outdated. We enrouage you to contact technical support if you have any questions about the information in that list.

System errors typically appear as a dialog informing you that the application has unexpectedly quit, with an offer to submit details to Apple. For that type of error, see this page instead.

System Errors (Crashes)

In macOS, the possibility of system corruption leading to an error (or crash) is minimal, but it does exist. Therefore, one valid troubleshooting step is to copy the collection and application to another computer to see if the problem persists.

Aside from that, there are a few logical steps you should take when Helix abruptly shuts down:

  1. Relaunch Helix and reopen the collection: Helix applications contain ‘clean up’ routines that run when a collection is opened. Reopening the collection allows Helix to perform this maintenance, and gives it a chance to confirm that the collection is internally sound.
  2. Check the collection with Helix Utility: Data errors that may be triggering the error can be detected (and most likely corrected) here.
  3. Reopen in ‘Safe Mode’: Open the collection with Helix RADE while holding down the Shift and Option keys. This will open the collection, but close all open windows, which can sometimes resolve errors.

The question that is always raised when a system error occurs is: did it fall or did we trip it? The macOS crash logs can provide valuable clues to understanding and fixing system errors. This page explains how to locate those crash logs and how to send them to us.

Apple event Errors

If you work with the original Helix Apple events (now referred to as the ‘Legacy Data Suite’) refer to the Appendix in The Helix Reference for a discussion on these errors.

If you work with the new Helix Design Suite (via AppleScript or Apple events) the full list of errors is found on this page.

‘Structure Check Failed’ Errors

When a collection is opened or saved, Helix 6.2 and later automatically check for structural problems. (Users of Helix 6.1 and earlier must run the separate Update Collection application to do this check.) If something in the structure does not check out properly, a dialog containing a diagnostic code is presented. In many cases, the information presented in Helix 6.2 and later can enable the end user to identify and repair the problem. This page explains how to use this information to its fullest. Also, Helix Technical Support can repair all but the most serious of these errors. Contact Technical Support if you need assistance recovering from a structure check error.

When Helix 6.2 or later reports such an error, the dialog offers two choices: Cancel or Proceed. Choosing to Cancel gives you a way to ‘fix’ the error by either identifying the referenced object or by using ‘Revert to Saved’ to discard all of the recent changes, including the one that introduced the error. Choosing to Proceed saves all of your changes, but also embeds the error in the collection, requiring you to take subsequent steps to rectify the problem.

Discarded Icon Errors

In Helix 6.1 and earlier, it was sometimes possible to generate an error simply by throwing away an icon that was no longer being used. This ‘backlink’ issue arises when an internal pointer continues to refer to the deleted icon. Helix 6.2 automatically rebuilds backlinks when a collection is opened, thereby resolving this error. (Note: because this rebuilding happens when the collection is opened, fixing one requires that you save and close the collection with the error intact. This is definitely scary, but it will fix this type of error.

Applying Structure Errors

When Apply Structure (formerly ‘Paste Structure’ was introduced in Helix Express 4.0, there were many types of constructions that were not fully considered. Pasting those types of structure would either result in an immediate crash or a damaged collection. Subsequent versions have eliminated virtually every instance of this type of error. If you are seeing any repeatable error when applying structure with the lastest version of Helix RADE, contact Technical Support right away.

Other Errors

Apart from the error codes that appear when Helix shuts down, there are other errors that may appear. A comprehensive list of error messages is shown on this page.

Reporting Bugs

If you think the error you are seeing is caused by a bug in Helix, visit this page for information on submitting a bug report.

Creating bug reports we can use to quickly isolate and fix bugs is a science that can be learned by everybody. This page provides many helpful guidelines.