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Search - "code nightmares"
I want Gordon Ramsey to start a IT program in the same fashion as Hotel Hell and Kitchen Nightmares
He'll sit at a desk with a laptop, examining code as if he's eating food, venting frustrations and screaming insults out loud
Then he'll have a talk with the team and see how they work on a day
After that he'll go into the freezer (server room) and scream at mold and cockroaches
Then comes the intervention where we discover that the PM is still grieving about the death of his original programming language and the team loves him but thinks he should move on
The next day the development studio is modernised and has a candy bar, tennis table and everyone is forced to use linux on their new macbooks
Then we experience a good day where everything is great and velocity is through the roof
Then Gordon leaves and everything is shit again17
Yesterday was Friday the 13th, so here is a list of my worst dev nightmares without order of significance:
1) Dealing with multithreaded code, especially on Android
3) Dependency hell, especially in Python
5) Memory Leaks
6) git conflicts
7) Crazy regexes and string manipulations
8) css. Fuck css.
9) not knowing jack shit about something but expected by others to
produce a result with it.
10) 3+ hours of debugging with no success
I had a coworker used to write PHP pages in this way:
// 2000+ lines of un-indented nightmares
I tried suggesting him to keep the HTML outside php tags as much as possible and I stressed out that adding some indentation to the code would have improved readability. I also sent him an example of my code created using an IDE with auto-indent functionality.
His creepy answer was: «Readability is subjective. Anyway I'll try to get used to the sinusoidal trend of your code.»11
Can't fall asleep because of unfinished code...
Wake up at 03:00 AM because of nightmares about bad code...
Too tired to finish code or rewrite bad code :'(7
This codebase reminds me of a large, rotting, barely-alive dromedary. Parts of it function quite well, but large swaths of it are necrotic, foul-smelling, and even rotted away. Were it healthy, it would still exude a terrible stench, and its temperament would easily match: If you managed to get near enough, it would spit and try to bite you.
Swaths of code are commented out -- entire classes simply don't exist anymore, and the ghosts of several-year-old methods still linger. Despite this, large and deprecated (yet uncommented) sections of the application depend on those undefined classes/methods. Navigating the codebase is akin to walking through a minefield: if you reference the wrong method on the wrong object... fatal exception. And being very new to this project, I have no idea what's live and what isn't.
The naming scheme doesn't help, either: it's impossible to know what's still functional without asking because nothing's marked. Instead, I've been working backwards from multiple points to try to find code paths between objects/events. I'm rarely successful.
Not only can I not tell what's live code and what's interactive death, the code itself is messy and awful. Don't get me wrong: it's solid. There's virtually no way to break it. But trying to understand it ... I feel like I'm looking at a huge, sprawling MC Escher landscape through a microscope. (No exaggeration: a magnifying glass would show a larger view that included paradoxes / dubious structures, and these are not readily apparent to me.)
It's also rife with bad practices. Terrible naming choices consisting of arbitrarily-placed acronyms, bad word choices, and simply inconsistent naming (hash vs hsh vs hs vs h). The indentation is a mix of spaces and tabs. There's magic numbers galore, and variable re-use -- not just local scope, but public methods on objects as well. I've also seen countless assignments within conditionals, and these are apparently intentional! The reasoning: to ensure the code only runs with non-falsey values. While that would indeed work, an early return/next is much clearer, and reduces indentation. It's just. reading through this makes me cringe or literally throw my hands up in frustration and exasperation.
Honestly though, I know why the code is so terrible, and I understand:
The architect/sole dev was new to coding -- I have 5-7 times his current experience -- and the project scope expanded significantly and extremely quickly, and also broke all of its foundation rules. Non-developers also dictated architecture, creating further mess. It's the stuff of nightmares. Looking at what he was able to accomplish, though, I'm impressed. Horrified at the details, but impressed with the whole.
This project is the epitome of "I wrote it quickly and just made it work."
Fortunately, he and I both agree that a rewrite is in order. but at 76k lines (without styling or configuration), it's quite the undertaking.
Amusing: after running the codebase through `wc`, it apparently sums to half the word count of "War and Peace"15
The riskiest dev choice...
How about "The riskiest thing you've done as a dev"? I have a great entry for that. and I suppose it was my choice to build the feature afterall.
I was working on an instance of a small MMO at a game company I worked for. The MMO boasted multiple servers, each of them a vastly different take on the base game. We could use, extend, or outright replace anything we wanted to, leading to everything from Zelda to pokemon to an RP haven to a top-down futuristic counterstrike. The server in this particular instance was a fantasy RPG, and I was building it a new leveling and experience system with most of the trimmings. (Talents, feats/perks, etc. were in a future update.)
A bit of background, first: the game's dev setup did not have the now-standard dev/staging/prod servers; everything ran on prod, devs worked on prod, players connected and played on prod, etc. Worse yet, there was no backup system implemented -- or not really. The CTO was really the only person with sufficient access. The techy CEO did as well, but he rarely dealt with anything technical except server hardware, occasionally. And usually just to troll/punish us devs (as in "Oops ! I pulled the cat5 ! ;)"). Neither of them were the most reliable of people, either. The CTO would occasionally remote in and make backups of each server -- we assumed whenever he happened to think of it -- and would also occasionally do it when asked, but it could take him a week, sometimes even up to a month to get around to it. So the backups were only really useful for retreiving lost code and assets, not so much for player data.
The lack of reliable backups and the lack of proper testing grounds (among the plethora of other issues at the company) made for an absolutely terrible dev setup, but that's just how it was, and that's what we dealt with. We were game devs, afterall. Terrible or not, we got to make games! What more could you ask for!? It was amazing and terrible and wonderful and the worst thing ever, all at the same time. (and no, I'm not sharing the company name, but it isn't EA or Nexon, surprisingly 😅)
Anyway, back to the story! My new leveling system also needed to migrate players' existing data, so... you can see where this is going.
I did as much testing and inspection of my code as I could, copied it from a personal dev script to the server's xp system, ... and debated if I really wanted to click [Apply]. Every time I considered it, I went back to check another part or do yet more testing. I ended up taking like 40 minutes to finally click it.
And when I did... that was the scariest button press of my life. And the scariest three seconds' wait afterwards. That one click could have ruined every single player's account, permanently lost us players ...
After applying it, I immediately checked my character to see if she was broken, checked the account data for corruption or botched flags, checked for broken interactions with the other systems....
Everything ended up working out perfectly, and the players loved all of the new features. They had no idea what went into building them, and certainly had no idea of what went into applying them, or what could have gone wrong -- which is probably a good thing.
Looking back, that entire environment was so fragile, it's a wonder things didn't go horribly wrong all the time. Really, they almost never did. Apocalypses did happen, but were exceedingly rare, and were ususally fixed quickly. I guess we were all super careful simply because everything was so fragile? or the decent devs were, at least. We never trusted the lessers with access 😅 at least on the main servers where it mattered. Some of the smaller servers... well, we never really cared about those.
But I'm honestly more surprised to realize I've never had nightmares of that button click. It was certainly terrifying enough.
But yay! Complete system overhaul and migration of stored and realtime player data! on prod! With no issues! And lots of happy players! Woooooo!
Thinking back on it makes me happy 😊2
2 years into polytechnic I got my 1st big project as a subcontractor doing Symbian. No need to tell the company I presume.
Anyways, I was brought into the project just couple weeks before holiday season started. My Symbian programming experience was just the basics from school. 1st day I was crapping my pants out of anxiety. I pretty much didn't understand anything what my project manager or teammates were telling, so I just wrote EVERYTHING down on paper and recorded all the meetings to my laptop.
My job was to implement a very big end to end SDK feature. Basically from API through Symbian OS through HAL to other OS and into its subsystem. Nice job for a beginner :/
As the holidays were starting we had just drafted out the specification (I don't know how, because I didn't understand much of what was going on) and I got a clear mission from team lead. Make a working prototype of the feature during the time everybody else was on vacation.
"No problemos, I can do it" I BS'd myself and the team lead.
First 2 weeks I just read documentation, my notes and internal coding tutorials over and over again. I produced maybe couple of lines of usable code. I stayed at the office as late as I dared without seeming to obvious that I had no clue what I was doing. After the two weeks of staying late and seeing nightmares every night I had a sudden heureka moment. Code that I was reading started to make sense. Okay, still 2 weeks more until my teammates come back.
Next 2 weeks were furious coding and I got better every day. I even had time to refactor some of my earlier code so that quality was consistent.
Soooo, holidays are over and my team leader and collagues are very interested with my progress. "You did very well. Much better than expected. Prototype is working with main use case implemeted. You must have quite high competence to do this so well..."
"Well...I did have to refactor some stuff, so not 10/10"
I didn't say a word of my super late nights, anxiety and total n00biness.
Pretty much finished "like a boss". After that I was on the managers wanted list and they called me to ask if I had the time work on their projects.
Fake it, crap your pants, eat your crap and turn into diamonds and then you make it.
PS. After Symbian normal C++ and almost any other language has been a breeze to learn.2
I have a large code library I have been working on for over 10 years. I have nightmares about leaving it to another unfortunate dev. I'll have to work at this company the rest of my life.7
Dev nightmares :
- Not finding bug fix on stackoverflow/GitHub .
- Losing code that hasn't been pushed to GitHub.
- Dealing with an unclean and inconsistent database.
- Installing Node Dependencies.
- Resolving CORS and 500s.
- Training a Linear Regression Model with 700 epochs on an entry-level Laptop.
Keep appending to this list.
You know when you are true developer when you have nightmares about non functioning code and bugs without solutions...1
Best: gaining experience and learning new ways to write programs in the best way possible, even beyond working hours
Worst: the amount of ABAP code I saw these past two years gives me nightmares, and older programmers don't seem to want to improve and advance from the old ways of the language 😥1
Spent seven hours reading source code at work yesterday. The little documentation I was able to find alternated between English and Spanish. And some of the things I saw... Straight out of a horror novel.
For example: NUMBER_2 * NUMBER_60 * NUMBER_60 * NUMBER_1000 to get the number of milliseconds in two hours.
Or this super contrived method which capped the registration age at 100, which now caps it at 102 anyways because they use hard coded values for the current year. Took me 15 minutes to find out what "fixYear" (this method) did.
No wonder I got home and crashed in bed till nearly midnight after that... I swear that was harder than a university Calc final...3
When Do You Stop Taking Responsibility?
Let me clarify by describing four scenarios in which you are tasked with some software development. It could be a large or small task. The fourth scenario is the one I'm interested in. The first three are just for contrast.
1. You either decide how to implement the requirements, or you're given directions or constraints you agree with. (If you hadn't been given those specific directions you probably would have done the same thing anyway.) **You feel accountable for the outcome**, such as whether it works correctly or is delivered on time. And, of course, the team feels collectively accountable. (We could call this the "happy path.")
2. You would prefer to do the work one way, but you're instructed to do it a different way, either by a manager, team lead, or team consensus. You disagree with the approach, but you're not a stubborn know-it-all. You understand that their way is valid, or you don't fully understand it but you trust that someone else does. You're probably going to learn something. **You feel accountable for the outcome** in a normal, non-blaming sort of way.
3. You're instructed to do something so horribly wrong that it's guaranteed to fail badly. You're in a position to refuse or push back, and you do.
4. You're given instructions that you know are bad, you raise your objections, and then you follow them anyway. It could be a really awful technical approach, use of copy-pasted code, the wrong tools, wrong library, no unit testing, or anything similar. The negative consequences you expect could include technical failure, technical debt, or significant delays. **You do not feel accountable for the outcome.** If it doesn't work, takes too long, or the users hate it, you expect the individual(s) who gave you instructions to take full responsibility. It's not that you want to point fingers, but you will if it comes to that.
That fourth scenario could provoke all sorts of reactions. I'm interested in it for what you might call research purposes.
The final outcome is irrelevant. If it failed, whether someone else ultimately took responsibility or you were blamed is irrelevant. That it is the opposite of team accountability is obvious and also irrelevant.
Here is the question (finally!)
Have you experienced scenario number four, in which you develop software (big as an application, small as a class or method) in a way you believe to be so incorrect that it will have consequences, because someone required you to do so, and you complied *with the expectation that they, not you, would be accountable for the outcome?*
Emphasis is not on the outcome or who was held accountable, but on whether you *felt* accountable when you developed the software.
If you just want to answer yes or no, or "yes, several times," that's great. If you'd like to describe the scenario with any amount of detail, that's great too. If it's something you'd rather not share publicly you can contact me privately - my profile name at gmail.com.
The point is not judgment. I'll go first. My answer is yes, I have experienced scenario #4. For example, I've been told to copy/paste/edit code which I know will be incomprehensible, unmaintainable, buggy, and give future developers nightmares. I've had to build features I know users will hate. Sometimes I've been wrong. I usually raised objections or shared concerns with the team. Sometimes the environment made that impractical. If the problems persisted I looked for other work. But the point is that sometimes I did what I was told, and I felt that if it went horribly wrong I could say, "Yes, I understand, but this was not my decision." *I did not feel accountable.*.
I plan on writing more about this, but I'd like to start by gathering some perspective and understanding beyond just my own experience.
Writing code for software that was deprecated since 2015 it's a nightmare. More when the unit tests take way more time than the actual fix or feature. Just kill it with fire
I'm the only one who doesn't understand how the fuck people dream about code/coding? I get it, you leave work and still think about a solution for a certain problem, that's normal. But dreaming/having nightmares about this shit is weird.5
# Gave me a job and more stress and literally nightmares;
# Physically resisting myself to give solutions to everything people moan about. Even myself. But we know things flap in production;
# Cursing my life, other people's code, customer's IQ more often;
# Getting more LinkedIn, messages, profile views and requests than my social media (which I really don't give a shit about);
# Using a combination of programming punctuations in usual writing (this rant for example);
# My sleep is down the toilet;
# Never complaining any coffee as long as it works;
When I was started my journey in coding, what ever I do, I think about coding. Sleep code, eat code, dream code, dating code. Its become my usually nightmares.
Its become worst when I got stucked in coding. Ppl see me like a geek zombie.
Coding used to ruin my life.
But when my code working like charm, feel like god. I can do anything. 😂😂😂
Sometime l just love it, but most of the time I fucking hate it.