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Dev: “Ughh..look at this –bleep- code! When I execute the service call, it returns null, but the service received a database error.”
Me: “Yea, that service was written during a time when the mentality was ‘Why return a service error if the client can’t do anything about it?’”
Dev: “I would say that’s a misunderstanding of that philosophy.”
Me: “I would say it’s a perfectly executed example of a deeply flawed philosophy.”
Dev: “No, the service should just return something that tells the client the operation failed.”
Me: “They did. It was supposed to return a valid result, and the developer indicated a null response means the operation failed. How you deal with the null response is up to you.”
Dev: “That is stupid. How am I supposed to know a null response means the operation failed?”
Me: “OK, how did you know the operation failed?”
Dev: “I had to look at the service error logs.”
Me: “Bingo.”
Dev: “This whole service is just a –bleep-ing mess. There are so many things that can go wrong and the only thing the service returns is null when the service raises an exception.”
Me: “OK, what should the service return?”
Dev: ”I don’t know. Error 500 would be nice.”
Me: “Would you know what to do with error 500?”
Dev: ”Yea, I would look at the error log”
Me: “Just like you did when the service returned null?”
<couple of seconds of silence>
Dev: “I don’t know, it’s a –bleep-ing mess.”
Me: “You’re in the code, change it.”
Dev: “Ooohhh no, not me. The whole thing will have to be re-written. It should have been done correctly the first time. If we had time to do code reviews, I would have caught this –bleep- before the service was deployed.”
Me: “Um, you did.”
<a shocked look from Dev>
Dev: “What…no, I’ve never seen this code.”
Me: “I sat next to Chuck when you were telling him he needed to change the service to return null if an exception was raised. I remember you telling him specifically to pop-up an error dialog ‘Service request failed’ to the user when the service returned null.”
Dev: “I don’t remember any of that.”
Me: “Well, Chuck did. He even put it in the check-in comments. See…”
<check in comments stated Dev’s code review and dictated the service return null on exceptions>
Dev: “Hmm…I guess I did. –bleep- are you a –bleep-ing elephant? You –bleep-ing remember everything.”

<what I wanted to say>
No, I don’t remember everything, but I remember all the drive-by <bleep>-ed up coding philosophies you tried to push to the interns and we’re now having all kinds of problems I spend waaaaay too much time fixing.
<what I said, and lied a little bit>
Me: “No, I was helping Nancy last week troubleshoot the client application last week with the pop-up error. Since the service returned a null, she didn’t know where to begin to look for the actual error.”
Dev: “Oh.”

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