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Lasso 9 Server with Instance Manager -

Multimedia Protector 3.0.2 Registration code included

All code is terrible

As web application developers, we're in the business of creating new features, improving what works, and fixing what is broken. Wouldn't it be nice if you could spend all of your time creating awesome stuff?

Tyrannosaurus Rex piloting a jet fighterI love you, you love me

Unfortunately, it is not always awesome.

For example, you may be familiar with the article I wrote Setting Up File Tag Permissions in Lasso Professional 8 on Mac OS X and Linux. This article came about from my frustration of dealing with file permissions. It is not a simple matter, and it is very easy to miss a detail that can lay waste to an afternoon of productivity. It's also easy to misinterpret or not understand the error messages that may be returned.


I'm here to show you that it does not have to be that way.

I'll share some of the things that I do to extract meaning from the error stack. I'll discuss strategies, tools, and resources to get you into the pub in time for happy hour, into the garden before the sun sets, or time to go jogging with your dog.



Most of the work is to define the problem.

Have you ever made a quick change to a file on a production server to fix a problem, only to find that it does not fix it? So you make another change, reload, and the problem persists? So you repeat this process several times, trying various things without success. Soon you reach a certain point of frustration.

The characters portrayed in this video clip bear no resemblance to any technical support staff or customer seeking technical support, living or dead.

Define the problem


You can avoid troubles by following a simple process.

  • Repeat the problem
    • What did you do?
    • List all the steps
  • Expectations
    • What did you expect to happen?
  • Observations
    • What did you observe?
    • Error messages and codes
    • Logs
    • Screenshots and screensharing

Problems with defining the problem

Rage Face

Often problems are made worse when one fails to follow the simple process above. Do not make the following mistakes.

Failure to verify assumptions

When your application does not work as you expect, verify that requirements are met.

  • Network operating normally
  • Hardware issues
  • Software issues
  • Wetware (human) issues
Double Face Palm

Jumping to conclusions

How often do you hear the phrase, "It's not working"? It's loaded with assumptions and potential pitfalls. Slow down or back up to establish common definitions.

  • Define "it"
  • Define "not working"

Ignoring evidence

Folks who are frustrated or impatient often miss critical information that you need to understand the problem.

  • User claims that they did something, when in fact they did not
  • User dismisses alerts, warnings, or error messages by simply clicking the "OK" button
Triple Face Palm

"Fixing" the problem before it is defined

Randomly trying stuff can introduce new errors. One can also destroy forensic evidence that could have been useful to determine what actually happened.

"Once you eliminate the impossible, whatever remains, no matter how improbable, must be the truth."

Arthur Conan Doyle - Sherlock Holmes


Everyone has their own Chip.

Types of Lasso Errors

There are several types of Lasso errors in both versions 8 and 9. Error types include web server, syntax, action (request), action results (response), database, logical errors in code, security violations, and operating system errors.

Web server errors are those returned by Apache, IIS, or whichever web server is used, such as an HTTP response code of 404 for "file not found".

Syntax errors can be typographical errors, omission of a character, or forgetting to have a matching opening and closing pair of parentheses.

Action errors are typically misspelled names of a database, table, or field.

Database errors are returned by the data source, and the developer should refer to the data source's manual to interpret the error code and message. Examples of errors include searching a field that does not exist in the table or layout.

The remaining error types are explained in more detail in the following sections.

Logical errors in code

In the following Lasso 8 example, can you spot the logical error?

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if(var('foo')); 'true'; else; 'false'; /if;

In the preceding example, the variable foo is instantiated as a null type, which in turn gets evaluated as logical false, and the string false is output. Variables should never be instantiated in conditional logic statements because one never knows whether they have already been instantiated already and can lead to unexpected results. Instead the variable should be first instantiated, then evaluated, like so.

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var('foo') = 'some value'; ... if($foo); 'true'; else; 'false'; /if;

Here's another example, this time in Lasso 9. Can you find the problem?

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var(moose = 1) while($moose > 0) => { $moose += 1 }

The conditional while statement always evaluates as true, and the value of $moose continually increments by 1, until Lasso 9 eventually crashes.

Logical code errors are the most difficult to spot. The situation is aggravated because most programmers do not follow a rigorous testing paradigm, like test-driven development (TDD). To try out TDD in Python, check out Obey the Testing Goat! a website by Harry Percival to accompany his excellent tutorials and book, Test Driven Development with Python.

Security and permissions errors

Lasso 8 has a unique security model. Whenever the Lasso SiteAdmin Setup > Security section has not been properly configured, you will be prompted with an error similar to that in the following screenshot.

Lasso Security Realm

Another security and permissions error may look like the following screenshot.

Lasso 8 Error Stack - File Write and Permissions

It is important to read the detailed message to identify where to start. Read the Error Message from top to bottom. There are three possible permission issues. The error is triggered by an onCreate method with given parameters, which was triggered by a write method with still other given parameters in a file at /2012/error_stack/file_write.lasso, line 26, character position 2. Additionally the code was invoked using an inline with a username and password.

As I said earlier, file permissions issues in Lasso 8 are among the hairiest beasts to troubleshoot and debug. To help get through that issue, I wrote a guide, Setting Up File Tag Permissions in Lasso Professional 8 on Mac OS X and Linux.

We will revisit this specific error later in this article.

Operating system errors

If you use [os_process] or [shell], ImageMagick or the [image] tags, or the [pdf] tags, then you may have run into some peculiar error messages. Lasso usually passes through errors from the operating system or commands run via [os_process] to the user. If an error does not make sense in the context of Lasso, then more than likely it is an error from the operating system or one of its applications. Using a simple web search for the error message in question will go a long way.

Improper installation of dependencies can result in the same kind of errors.


Lasso provides several tools for diagnosing issues.

Error pages

Lasso provides an error page that returns error codes and messages to the user. Error pages can be placed at various scopes.

Error page scope in Lasso 8

Lasso 8 provides a default error page for the entire Lasso Server that returns error codes and messages to the user. Its location is:

/Applications/Lasso Professional 8/LassoAdmin/error.lasso

Now you could edit error.lasso and customize it, but it is better to create your own custom error page and place it within the appropriate scope.

For the specific Lasso Site (Instance) and all web sites that use the Lasso Site (Instance), place and edit a file at the location:

/Applications/Lasso Professional 8/LassoSites/default-1/error.lasso

For a specific website, place and edit a file at the website root:


The following is example custom error page for one of my clients.

Lasso custom error page

This error page presents a humorous error page to the user, and logs information to the system for possible debugging later. It incorporates Apache mod_rewrite directives such that the original request can be preserved. It could also send email or perform any other action that Lasso can normally perform. For more information on creating a custom error page, read Jason Huck's blog post, Error Management Techniques for Lasso

Error page scope in Lasso 9

Lasso 9 similarly provides a server wide error page, but no Instance scope. Custom error pages can only be placed within the website root and its subdirectories:

/error.lasso /another/website/path/error.lasso

Error levels

In Lasso 8, there are three error reporting levels. The levels can be set through the Lasso SiteAdmin or programmatically with the [lasso_errorreporting] tag. The three levels are none, minimal, and full, with an optional -local keyword to change the error level only within the current included file, custom tag, or processed code.

In Lasso 9, there are no error reporting levels.

The following are examples of output for the three error reporting levels in Lasso 8.

Error Level None

Lasso Error reporting level None

Error Level Minimal

Lasso Error reporting level Minimal

Error Level Full

Lasso Error reporting level Full

SiteAdmin Configuration

To set the error level in Lasso SiteAdmin, navigate to Setup > Site > Lasso Settings > Syntax Settings > Error Reporting, select the desired level, and click the Update button for the panel.

Error reporting level Lasso SiteAdmin configuration

Error Log Configuration

Error logging can be an effective tool to record errors, events, or conditions in your code. Lasso provides a web interface to configure which errors get logged and where. In production environments, logging should be minimized to only the bare minimum critical events to one place only. Bloated log files can cause Lasso Server to run slowly or even crash.

Lasso 8 Error Log Configuration

To configure the Error Setup in Lasso 8 SiteAdmin, navigate to Utility > Errors > Setup and select the desired level of logging. The following screenshot indicates an overeager developer who desires excessive logging in development.

Lasso 8 Error Log Configuration

Lasso 9 Error Log Configuration

To configure the LogBook in Lasso 9 Admin for an instance, click the unlabeled blue tab on the left side, and click Log Book. Next click the Settings tab. Select the desired level of logging. The following screenshots indicate how to navigate to the Log Book and its settings. The second image indicates an overeager developer who desires excessive logging in development to the Console.

Lasso 9 Error Log Configuration NavigationLasso 9 Error Log Configuration Settings

Viewing Log Files

You can use the Lasso Admin web interface to view the errors stored in the internal error database in both Lasso 8 and 9. In Lasso 9, some log files can be viewed in the Lasso Instance Manager and the Lasso Admin.

In Lasso 8, log files are located as follows.

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# Lasso Server level log records server level errors /Applications/Lasso Professional 8/LassoErrors.txt # Lasso Site level log records Lasso site level errors /Applications/Lasso Professional 8/LassoSites/default-1/LassoErrors.txt # Custom logging path records website level errors /custom/path/to/error_file.txt

In Lasso 9, log files are located as follows.

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# Lasso Server level logs record server level errors # The Lasso Instance Manager event log file for the server /private/var/lasso/lasso.err.txt # The Lasso Server instance's console log file for the server /private/var/lasso/lasso.out.txt # Lasso Instance level logs record Lasso Instance level errors # The Lasso Instance Manager event log file for the default instance /private/var/lasso/instances/default/lasso.err.txt # The Lasso Server instance's console log file for the default instance /private/var/lasso/instances/default/lasso.out.txt # The Lasso Server instance's logbook log file for the default instance /private/var/lasso/instances/default/lasso_logbook.txt # Custom logging path records website level errors /custom/path/to/error_file.txt


lasso.out.txt == lasso_logbook.txt + startup messages

Log files can be viewed in your favorite editor. Or use the following command to view the log as it updates in real-time.

sudo tail -F -50 /path/to/log/file.txt

Finally the Lasso Instance Manager allows one to view the log of a Lasso instance.

Stopping and starting Lasso

Occassionally one needs to stop, start, or restart Lasso 8 Server or Sites/ Instances or Lasso 9 Server or Instances. There are several methods to do so.

Lasso 8 provides scripts which can be executed either by double-clicking them through the GUI of the operating system or through a shell. These commands are located in the Tools directory inside of the Lasso Professional 8 directory.

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# Mac /Applications/Lasso Professional 8/Tools/ # Linux /usr/local/Lasso Professional 8/Tools/

The scripts are named according to the function they perform, but one requires further description, consoleLassoService.

Windows is a slightly different beast. To stop LassoService, navigate to Control Panel > Administrative Tools > Services, and stop or start the service.

Additionally, one can use the operating systems process management tools to stop, start, and restart Lasso services, or use command line tools.

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# Lasso 8 Server service lasso8service stop service lasso8service start service lasso8service restart # Lasso 9 Service and Instance Manager # Linux /sbin/service lassoimd stop /sbin/service lassoimd start /sbin/service lassoimd restart # Mac OS X sudo launchctl unload /Library/LaunchDaemons/com.lassosoft.lassoinstancemanager.plist sudo launchctl load /Library/LaunchDaemons/com.lassosoft.lassoinstancemanager.plist # Find and kill a specific Lasso 8 service ps ax | grep -e [.]/Lasso8Service

Console/Debug Mode

Lasso 8 can be started in console or debug mode from the command line. This is useful to watch Lasso8Service launch and start up and observe any errors or warnings that require further attention.

1 2 3 4
# Mac OS X /Applications/Lasso Professional 8/Tools/consoleLassoService.command # Linux /usr/local/Lasso Professional 8/Tools/

To start LassoService in console mode in Windows, first stop LassoService as indicated above. Then navigate to C:\Program Files\OmniPilot Software\Lasso Professional 8\. Run Lasso8Service.exe.

In Lasso 9 the above tools have been replaced with new procedures and configuration. To start lassoserver in console or debug mode from the command line, issue the following command.

1 2 3 4 5
# set the environment variable LASSO9_PRINT_FAILURES to one of the values: # 0: no output # 1: verbose output # 2: succinct output LASSO9_PRINT_FAILURES=1 sudo lasso/LassoExecutables/lassoserver

One could also tail the log file as previously mentioned.

Starting and stopping Lasso Sites/Instances

The only way to start a Lasso Site/Instance other than configuration at system boot time is to use the Lasso 8 ServerAdmin (preferred) or SiteAdmin or the Lasso 9 Instance Manager.

Stopping Lasso Sites/Instances can be done either through the Lasso web interfaces or through the previously mentioned shell commands.

Interpreting the Lasso 8 Error Stack

Now let's interpret some of those error messages. We will use the default Lasso error pages to view the full error stack.

Lasso 8 Error Stack - Chained Includes

In the above example, the line beginning with "Error Message:" contains the most relevant information. We can see the error was that a file named was not found. As we dig down into the error stack we can see the file in which the call include(''); was made and at which line, specifically:

at: include with params: '' at: /2012/error_stack/01d.lasso on line: 2 at position: 1

Each file is included by another until the initial request is determined.

at: include with params: '01b.lasso' at: /2012/error_stack/01.lasso on line: 2 at position: 1

Finally, the line with "Error Code:" indicates just that, in this case -9984.

There may be additional information which may be pertinent for the given situation, especially for actions and database interaction.

Let's look at another example.

Lasso 8 Error Stack - File Write and Permissions

In the above example, we can see the Error Message and Code. The immediate error message tells us that there is at least one of three possible causes for the error:

  • Search permission is denied on a component of the path prefix
  • The file exists and the permissions specified by mode are denied
  • The file does not exist and write permission is denied for the parent directory of the file to be created

All three conditions must be eliminated as possible causes. The error stack can provide some direction. Let's step down through the error stack.

Lasso attempted to create a file named filename.txt, by using the write method of the file type, using the indicated parameters, but the attempt failed.

The remainder of the error stack indicates where the method was called, and that an inline was used with given parameters for authentication and authorization via Lasso Security. Note that the username and password parameters correspond to those in Lasso Security, and not on the operating system, although the username may be coincidental.

At this point, one should check that all the necessary bits and pieces for file permissions are in alignment.

Interpreting the Lasso 9 Error Stack

To help understand and interpret the Lasso 9 error stack, one should first read about defining methods and signatures.

The following syntax diagram of a method's signature serves as a visual guide to tracing the error stack.

Signature Syntax

In Lasso 9, the familiar default Lasso 8 "blue screen" error page is gone and has been replaced with a very plain but very informative error stack page. Let's try an example by migrating code from Lasso 8 to Lasso 9.

You can copy and paste this Lasso 8.5 working example and try it out yourself.

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[ if(action_param('session')=='start'); session_start(-name='cabbage', -expires=15, -CookieExpires=15); var('fruit') = array; session_addvar(-name='cabbage','fruit'); else(action_param('fruit')); session_start(-name='cabbage', -expires=15, -CookieExpires=15); $fruit->insert(action_param('fruit')); else(action_param('session')=='end'); session_start(-name='cabbage', -expires=-999999, -CookieExpires=-999999); session_end(-name='cabbage'); redirect_url(response_filepath); /if; ] [if(session_id(-name='cabbage') == '')] <p><a href="[response_filepath]?session=start">start/load session</a></p> [else] <p><a href="[response_filepath]?session=end">end session</a></p> <h3>Add a fruit to your session.</h3> <ul> [iterate(array('Santa Rosa plum', 'Jonagold apple', 'Avocado'),local('i'))] <li><a href="[response_filepath]?fruit=[#i]">[#i]</a></li> [/iterate] </ul> [/if] <p>Session ID: [session_id(-name='cabbage')]</p> <p>Session Fruits: [var_defined('fruit') ? $fruit]</p>

The exact same code fails in Lasso 9 when the user clicks any fruit in the list (the list should not display anyway, which is another clue). Here is the resulting error stack:

1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17
An unhandled failure during a web request Error Code: -9947 Error Msg: The variable fruit was not found Error Stack: 8:2 //Library/WebServer/Documents/l9//_cookie.lasso 2:1 //Library/WebServer/Documents/l9//_cookie.lasso 85:12 web_response.lasso 182:2 error.lasso 73:3 web_response.lasso 184:19 web_response.lasso 604:17 web.lasso 182:2 error.lasso 603:2 web.lasso 247:16 fastcgi.lasso 182:2 error.lasso 241:2 fastcgi.lasso 465:37 fastcgi.lasso

The content of the error page is familiar. A brief description is followed by the error code, error message, and the error stack. The error stack indicates in which file the error occurred (_cookie.lasso) and on line 8, position 2 of the file.

The variable fruit was not getting added to the session, which implies the session never started so that the variable could be added to it. Thus when we tried to add a fruit, we got the error message.

In Lasso 9 non-existent parameters and variables are void, i.e., have no value, are not null, are not empty strings, and so on. They are truly nothing. But we can compare a void to a void, and that is how we can fix this code. Let's start with the logic around the variable fruit.


Change to:

else(action_param('fruit') != void);

That still loads the list and we should have a link to start a session. Aha! We missed a comparison.

[if(session_id(-name='cabbage') == '')]

Should be:

[if(session_id(-name='cabbage') == void)]

And now we can add fruit to our session.

Updates, suggestions and comments regarding this article may be sent to Steve Piercy, or comment using Disqus.

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