locked ARRL Contest Update for June 23, 2021 wrote:

Jim Cooper

On 23 Jun 2021,

The ARRL Contest Update for June 23, 2021 wrote:

Be a Good Ham Radio Software "Customer"

Much of the software that we use in amateur radio is free to download and use. The program authors were generous enough to devote their time and energy to create something that they've shared with others. Some popular ham radio software is downloaded and used by literally tens of thousands of people. Inevitably, someone will have difficulty with the operation of the program, and need "support." For most, dare I say all, program authors, the "support" part is not the most fun part of writing software. For a number of years now, the support model for free software consists of an email reflector or user group (e.g. groups.io) where the software developers, software enthusiasts, and people using the software communicate to discuss features and future functionality and address support issues. The people answering the questions are also volunteers. Support groups usually have guidelines about what information to include in a support issue, how to label the message, and general support forum etiquette.

Support volunteers appreciate it when issue reports have as much relevant information about the problem as possible, and demonstrate that the reporter has diligently attempted to solve their issue after reading appropriate documentation and searching the support group for messages from others who have had the issue.

A comprehensive report includes whatever the program authors require , which likely includes the software version (it should be the latest version of the software), the operating system type and version, type of computer, whether this is a new installation, and the steps required to reproduce the issue. Most amateur radio software works with other software or hardware, so sometimes the details of the related pieces will be necessary too. If an issue reporter has done the research on their issue by reading other solved issue reports, they will probably have a good idea of the information that should be included.

If you need to file an issue, here are some tips that can get your issue to stand out in a good way:

  • Provide quality screenshots, if they are relevant. Don't use cell phone pictures. Use the built-in capabilities of your computer to provide the best pictures possible. On Windows 10, this is the Snipping Tool , or its successor, Snip & Sketch .
  • Make a screencast (video) demonstrating the issue if it involves multiple steps. Again, don't use your cell phone for this. On Windows 10, you can use the capture feature of the XBOX Game Bar built-in app .
  • Store your screenshots and/or videos online where they can be reviewed by the support team. There are a multitude of (free) services that can do this. One example is GetCloudApp.com, which is free and provides links you can embed in your issue report.
  • Please don't use ALL CAPS to describe your issue. This is the equivalent of yelling.
  • When your issue gets resolved, mark it as Solved, so others researching an issue like yours in the future can find your solution.
  • Remember that there may be thousands of people who monitor messages in the support forums so keep the "Signal to Noise Ratio" high in your communications.

Sometimes it turns out that just following the guidelines for reporting an issue can help you find the solution yourself, saving both you and volunteers on the other end both time and effort.


Join Support@HamApps.groups.io to automatically receive all group messages.