The Red "X" of Death

You've heard of the Blue Screen of the Death (Windows). You've heard of the Yellow Screen of Death (ASP.NET). Now here's the Red "X" of Death. 

Got this on one of our apps the other day by our QA folks. It's a Smart Client app using the DevExpress Ribbon, CAB, and a host of other UI goodness. Needless to say, the error wasn't too useful to anyone trying to fix it.

There's *supposed* to be a grid in the middle there with all kinds of useful information and calculations. DevExpress just decided that it really didn't want to do all that work and gave us a nice big red "X" as if we're missing an image from a website.


  • I'm not sure if this comes from DevExpress.

    I think I saw this behavior when using Infragistics controls. So it is probably a VS thing. But I could be wrong though.

  • For modern-art lovers, please note you can also get this with the integrated DataSet-Watcher in VS2005, and typed DataSets. When looking details of a DataTable that has constraints errors for example.

  • Hehe - I wonder if it's the same component used in Rss Bandit? I've seen that red cross numerous times in there :-/

  • We saw this problem on a project using the DevExpress grid a few months back. I wasn't the one to debug it, so I don't know the full details. I do know it involved waiting for the next DevExpress release, which contained a fix for the problem. So make sure you're running the latest and greatest DevExpress components as the problem might have already been fixed. (Though as mentioned above, there might be an error in the code that uses the grid and the "Red X of Death"(TM) isn't a DevExpress problem.)

  • I have seen this with component1 before. It would usually show up on a virtual pc running windows 98. I assumption was it related to the graphic emulation. I don't remember the error but It had to do with gdi+ if memory serves. We never reproduced it on a real machine.

  • I've also seen this, but in an Infragistics Treeview. If I remember correctly, from what I could figure out back then, the problem was related to making a call on a treeview method that would cause the treeview code to throw an exception. The red X would only occur if that call was made inside an event of the treeview.

  • I have seen this issue in SQL Server Management Studio and JetBrains Omea Pro. It usually occurs whenever some other error happens. As far as I can tell, it is a symptom of some other underlying problem.

  • In our use of the DevX grid, the Red X occassionally meant an internal error happened, and that meant waiting for an update from the vendor.

    More often, though, it meant that there was a problem (usually a null reference exception) being thrown in user code called during the grid's data binding handling.

    In 1.1, it was very difficult to debug errors that happened during WinForms databinding, since databinding took place in the Application run loop, outside of the normal app logic, and the data binding code generally caught and swallowed exceptions.

    In 2.0, you can use the Binding.BindingComplete complete event to check for binding errors, though you have to hook it up manually for all bound controls (as far as I know.)

    If this is still an open issue, check into the code that's providing the data to the control, and see if an unexpected null is popping up.

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