False error report after refresh - 163149263

I am using Zotero in a 300-page WORD document with around 540 citations, so I run it with automatic refresh off. When I run a manual refresh it takes about 20 minutes and as far as I can see correctly updates the footnotes and builds the bibliography. It then says that an error occurred. It does not say what kind of error and I can see nothing wrong, but it is puzzling and has been happening consistently for a few weeks now, so I sent you a report id. 163149263. I'm happy to send the document too if you wish.
  • As a first step, try to delete the bibliography from the document, then refresh and reinsert it.
  • @AndySymons: If it's still happening after that, we'd want a Debug ID (different from a Report ID) for this occurring.
  • This (false) error just happened again - ReportID 2090408165.

    Following your instructions, I enabled debugging in Zotero, deleted the Bibliography in WORD and started ‘refresh’ without a Bibliography.

    The next step involves guesswork because Zotero gives no indication of progress with refresh, or even indicates that it is running (a shortcoming I have previously mentioned and have now submitted in a separate thread as a feature request). It does not even give a message when it is finished. I usually tell that is it finished by seeing that the Bibliography has been completed.

    There being no Bibliography, I waited an arbitrary 20 minutes; thinking that was about how long is usually takes. I then attempted to insert a bibliography. I was evidently too early; no bibliography appeared. Shortly after, as it happens, a pop-up dialog asking me if I want to keep changes to a footnote appeared, so apparently refresh was still running.

    I answered “no”, as always, because in my case any changes to the Zotero fields can only be accidental. I waited a further 10 min and tried again with the same result. I was evidently being too optimistic about how long it takes. Maybe it is slower with debugging turned on?

    I took another period of 10 minutes. The changes to the dialog popup appeared several more times (I’m not sure why there were so many today, but this does not seem to be a problem).

    Then another 10 minutes – taking me up to 50 altogether.
    Then another 10 minutes – taking me up to the full hour.
    Then another 10 minutes – taking me up to 1 hour and ten minutes.

    After about an hour and five minutes the error message appeared "An error has occurred. Do you want to see troubleshooting instructions?"

    I tried (for about the third time) to insert a Bibliography but I got the message “You must insert a citation before performing this operation” (!).

    This generated a whole heap of debug report (6559 lines). I hope it helps

    The DebugID is: D863527690

    Happy reading!


  • edited 4 days ago
    A little update ... I starting afresh today. I found the document with updated citations but no Bibliography. I inserted one and got that message "An error has occurred. Do you want to see troubleshooting instructions?". I said no. Nothing happened and I went away to do other things, but leaving the document open. About an hour later, the Bibliography suddenly appeared. I guess it must have done the whole refresh again?

    As I originally said, I am not actually seeing anything wrong with any citation or the Bibliography. I just want to know why there is an error message if there is no error!
  • Can you repeat this operation with the debug logging enabled (if you get the same error) and submit a log? Make sure that no Word operations are running already (e.g. restart Zotero before doing this).

    Looking at your previously submitted log the updates are indeed slow. You might benefit from splitting your document into multiple documents for each chapter, working on them separately and then recombining at the end.
  • 1. Did the previous log tell you why there was a false error report?

    2. I think refresh ran slower than usual when error logging was on. It took over an hour and it usually takes about 20 minutes without the debug log. Anyway, I would rather leave it running for an hour than go through the palaver of splitting the document, which would be a lot more effort!
  • 1. Did the previous log tell you why there was a false error report?
    There seem to be multiple types of errors occurring, but it is unclear whether they have the same source or not. We can only target one specific reproducible issue at a time so that we know what we're dealing with and figure out how to fix that.
    Anyway, I would rather leave it running for an hour than go through the palaver of splitting the document, which would be a lot more effort!
    This isn't really all that involved. If you can split your document into 4-6 different chapters (by simply copy-pasting the relevant parts into new documents), you will have a much faster time updating with Zotero. Depending on your Mac and how well Word runs it might help with the performance there too. At the end of writing you just have to recombine all parts and refresh. This is standard advice for "heavy" documents.

    On the other hand it is likely that you will be able to reproduce the bug and be able to do faster troubleshooting on a reduced version of the doc.
  • "There seem to be multiple types of errors occurring, but it is unclear whether they have the same source or not. We can only target one specific reproducible issue at a time ...
    I only get one error message: at the end of refresh. Can you see what that one didn't tell me?
  • The previous log contained multiple operations. A refresh that completed successfully followed by an attempt to insert a bibliography which failed and seems to have displayed an error message properly, followed by another attempt to insert a bibliography that failed when Zotero couldn't retrieve any fields from the document and displayed an error saying you should insert a citation first.

    Unless we can isolate this to a specific action that is repeatable and always produces the same result we cannot debug it properly. How old and what kind of Mac this is that you're working with? Retrieving references takes a really long amount of time and in the last year Mac Word speed was quite decent, although I don't know if Big Sur could have made a negative difference.
  • I gave a detailed account of what I did and saw in my posting above (yesterday at 12:22 pm Zotero Forums time). I can't make it any more repeatable than that! I did not do anything else in Word or Zotero while this test was running.

    I am running on a late 2012 27-inch iMac with 3.2GHz quad core i5 processor and 24Gb of RAM. The disk is a 1 Tb fusion drive. I can see how the computer might affect performance (I am happy with it) but not how it would create the error message?
  • I can't make it any more repeatable than that
    If you cannot isolate this to a single repeatable action, hopefully in a more compact document (by e.g. trimming it down with step 10 from debugging broken documents) then we will not be able to fix it, since we eventually need to be able to reproduce it ourselves. You claim that the bibliography inserted fine when you were logging the actions in the previous logs, but based on what I see in the logs that can't have happened.
    I am running on a late 2012 27-inch iMac with 3.2GHz quad core i5 processor and 24Gb of RAM. The disk is a 1 Tb fusion drive. I can see how the computer might affect performance (I am happy with it) but not how it would create the error message?
    I was just generally wondering whether the performance you have is on a relatively new system or something older. The age of it explains some of the slowness.
  • edited 11 minutes ago
    I carried out a series of tests as you requested followed the procedure:
    1. Opened the last version of the thesis (dated 201204, set to read-only) with macros enabled (but I did not run any macros)
    2. Duplicated it and saved the file as “Zotero test n.docm” in a desktop folder.
    3. Deleted from the start of the document to the location indicated in the table below. Saved again. Of course the chapter numbers and pages are all different now, but I ignored that.
    4. Went to the Bibliography. This was always in the state “Automatic citation updates are disabled. To see the bibliography, click Refresh in the Zotero tab”.
    5. Went to Zotero and enabled debug logging.
    6. Went back to word and pressed refresh in the Zotero menu.
    7. Noted the start time in the table below.
    8. Waited until either the Bibliography was filled-in or an error message appeared.
    9. Noted the end time in the table below.
    10. In Zotero, submitted the debug log, copied the number to the clipboard and pasted it in the table below.
    11. Saved the test file in its final state.

    In these tests, I did not have any occurrence of the dialogue box asking if I wanted to keep changes (i.e. there were no changes; must have cleared them all yesterday).

    When it appeared, the error message was always “Zotero experienced an error updating your document. Do you want to see troubleshooting instructions?”. I answered no.

    These are the results.
    Test Scope Start time (GMT) End time (approx.) Duration (approx.) Result Debug log

    Test 1 From ch 8 to end 21:10 21:27 0:17 PASS. No error message. Bibliography inserted. D1323491916

    Test 2 From ch 6 to end 22:04 22:11 0:07 PASS. No error message. Bibliography inserted. D1981162491

    Test 3 From ch 2 to end 22:17 22:30 0:13 FAIL. Error message and Biography blank. D831396530

    Test 4 From ch 4 to end 22:35 22:42 0:07 FAIL. Error message and Biography blank. D1784676899

    Test 5 From ch 5 to end 22:46 22:50 0:04 FAIL. Error message. Bibliography still says “Automatic citation updates are disabled. To see the bibliography, click Refresh in the Zotero tab.” D750226190

    Test 6 From about ½ chapter 5 22:56 22:03 0:07 FAIL. Error message and Biography blank. D249557457

    Test 7 From about ¾ chapter 5 23:10 23:13 0:03 PASS. No error message. Bibliography inserted. D1822112187

    Test 8 From about 5/8 of chapter 5 23:21 23:31 0:10 FAIL. Error message and Biography blank. D272329732


    I have mailed you a zip file with a better formatted version of this report (!) and all 8 test files referencing the original report id 163149263
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