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Jani Hartikainen's Blog:
Should a failed function return a value or throw an exception?
March 12, 2010 @ 10:41:43

Jani Hartikainen poses an interesting question on his blog today - is it more correct for a function, having failed at its job, to return a value of throw an exception.

You have created a nice, well written function, but you realize you forgot something: The failure case. What should a function do when it fails? There are two schools for this - the "throw an exception" school and the "return an error value" school. But which of these is the correct approach?

He suggests that this debate has stuck around from the time when there weren't exceptions in several popular programming languages and that returning the value was the only valid way. He touches on what an exception condition is (with a few code examples) and situations where each choice might be the right way to go.

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