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I have been using Microsoft Publisher 97 for 12 years and never had a problem. Now, all of a sudden, I get an error message: ASSERT: File undialog.cpp line 1396. What does this mean and how can I fix it? I have tried uninstalling the software, running directory clean up, and re-installing. I still get the error message. Microsoft does not provide customer support for Publisher 97. (Although they should, it seems to be THEIR problem).

Thanks Don

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migrated from stackoverflow.com Jan 4 '10 at 11:07

This question came from our site for professional and enthusiast programmers.

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What OS are you running this on and have you applied any patches to the operating system recently? You might be better asking this question on superuser.com –  Paolo Jan 4 '10 at 10:57
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You should edit the title of your question to be more meaningful - "writer, freelance" does not describe the issue at all and this will reduce the chance of you attracting people that might know how to help. –  David Spillett Jan 4 '10 at 11:42

3 Answers 3

If you use Sprint DSL or some other service that uses MotiveSB.exe as part of it's process then it's not a Microsoft error. It means that this other piece of software damaged an important system module. In general, Microsoft setups won't overwrite DLL's if they're newer, thus re-installing Publisher won't solve your problem.

But these kinds of error never occur "all of the sudden". Did you do a Windows update or install some other piece of software before this error occurred? Even installing a simple game might have caused this problem. Especially with older systems and older software, a small change in something that appears completely unrelated might cause such problems.

Btw, please don't tell me you're still using Windows 98... :-)

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The message means that an assertion failed. Assertions are a defensive programming technique whereby the programmer states "the fact X must be true". If X is in fact true then nothing happens and things carry on. If X is false an error/exception is raised. If this exception is not trapped and handled it results in the program being terminated.

There could be a great many reasons for this and without a more detailed error message (which it would have already given to you if it was going to) or access to the source it would be very difficult to diagnose further.

One likely cause is an update to a system library that has changed (perhaps as part of a security fix) some property that the program relies on.

Have you upgraded your Windows version recently? If so, try running the program in the older Windows variant in a VM (for instance if you have Windows 7 Pro try using its "XP mode" feature, otherwise try install an older Windows in a VM using VMWare or VirtualBox). If not then you might be out of luck because if the problem is caused by a security update that update may be one that the older Windows variant will get also.

You may unfortunately have no choice but to either purchase an upgrade or find an alternative peice of software that fits your needs and can read your existing documents.

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It means there's a coding error at that particular line of that file. If you have experience in debugging in assembler, you could try and find the bug. Otherwise, I suggest you get a newer version of MS Publisher.

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