Types of errors

Flash Player 9 and later, Adobe AIR 1.0 and later

When you develop and run applications, you encounter different types of errors and error terminology. The following list introduces the major error types and terms:

  • Compile-time errors are raised by the ActionScript compiler during code compilation. Compile-time errors occur when syntactical problems in your code prevent your application from being built.

  • Run-time errors occur when you run your application after you compile it. Run-time errors represent errors that are caused while a SWF file plays in a Flash runtime (such as Adobe Flash Player or Adobe AIR). In most cases, you handle run-time errors as they occur, reporting them to the user and taking steps to keep your application running. If the error is a fatal error, such as not being able to connect to a remote website or load required data, you can use error handling to allow your application to finish, gracefully.

  • Synchronous errors are run-time errors that occur at the time a function is called—for example, when you try to use a specific method and the argument you pass to the method is invalid, so the Flash runtime throws an exception. Most errors occur synchronously—at the time the statement executes—and the flow of control passes immediately to the most applicable catch statement.

    For example, the following code excerpt throws a run-time error because the browse() method is not called before the program attempts to upload a file:

    var fileRef:FileReference = new FileReference(); 
        fileRef.upload(new URLRequest("http://www.yourdomain.com/fileupload.cfm")); 
    catch (error:IllegalOperationError) 
        // Error #2037: Functions called in incorrect sequence, or earlier 
        // call was unsuccessful. 

    In this case, a run-time error is thrown synchronously because Flash Player determined that the browse() method was not called before the file upload was attempted.

    For detailed information on synchronous error handling, see Handling synchronous errors in an application.

  • Asynchronouserrors are run-time errors that occur outside of the normal program flow. They generate events and event listeners catch them. An asynchronous operation is one in which a function initiates an operation, but doesn’t wait for it to complete. You can create an error event listener to wait for the application or user to try some operation. If the operation fails, you catch the error with an event listener and respond to the error event. Then, the event listener calls an event handler function to respond to the error event in a useful manner. For example, the event handler could launch a dialog box that prompts the user to resolve the error.

    Consider the file-upload synchronous error example presented earlier. If you successfully call the browse() method before beginning a file upload, Flash Player would dispatch several events. For example, when an upload starts, the open event is dispatched. When the file upload operation completes successfully, the complete event is dispatched. Because event handling is asynchronous (that is, it does not occur at specific, known, predesignated times), use the addEventListener() method to listen for these specific events, as the following code shows:

    var fileRef:FileReference = new FileReference(); 
    fileRef.addEventListener(Event.SELECT, selectHandler); 
    fileRef.addEventListener(Event.OPEN, openHandler); 
    fileRef.addEventListener(Event.COMPLETE, completeHandler); 
    function selectHandler(event:Event):void 
        var request:URLRequest = new URLRequest("http://www.yourdomain.com/fileupload.cfm"); 
        request.method = URLRequestMethod.POST; 
    function openHandler(event:Event):void 
    function completeHandler(event:Event):void 

    For detailed information on asynchronous error handling, see Responding to error events and status.

  • Uncaught exceptions are errors thrown with no corresponding logic (like a catch statement) to respond to them. If your application throws an error, and no appropriate catch statement or event handler can be found at the current or higher level to handle the error, the error is considered an uncaught exception.

    When an uncaught error happens, the runtime dispatches an uncaughtError event. This event is also known as a “global error handler.” This event is dispatched by the SWF’s UncaughtErrorEvents object, which is available through the LoaderInfo.uncaughtErrorEvents property. If no listeners are registered for the uncaughtError event, the runtime ignores uncaught errors and tries to continue running, as long as the error doesn’t stop the SWF.

    In addition to dispatching the uncaughtError event, debugger versions of the Flash runtime respond to uncaught errors by terminating the current script. Then, they display the uncaught error in trace statement output or writing the error message to a log file. If the exception object is an instance of the Error class or one of its subclasses, stack trace information is also displayed in the output. For more information about using the debugger version of Flash runtimes, see Working with the debugger versions of Flash runtimes.

    Note: While processing an uncaughtError event, if an error event is thrown from an uncaughtError handler, the event handler is called multiple times. This results in an infinite loop of exceptions. It is recommended that you avoid such a scenario.