It's story time! James Watson shares a little tale about his experience behind an up and coming highly-paid consultant ...

A while back, I was responsible for doing maintenance programming and my coworker was responsible for new development. Even though we were around the same age, and even though I had the Computer Science degree and he had the Civil Engineering degree, I assumed he must of been pretty smart, or they wouldn't have given him this responsibility. Right?

After a couple years of being the lead developer, he skipped out to ride a dot dot com meteorite, and I was given the opportunity to step into his role and take over his code. Among other things, I found 500 line methods in middle of the web page servlet code. But nothing beat his special parameter passing mechanism; it was a database table with two columns:

VE
'75LOC' '75 LOC'
'OPAC' 'OPAC'
'DAX PL' 'DAXPL'
'99 LOC' '99LOC'
'94 LOC' '94LOC'

I immediately recognized that the values were commonly used keys in the system. In various places in the web app, the code would take the value from the right column, look up it's associated value on the left, pass that on the URL to the next page, and the next page would take that and look up the value on the right.

I pondered this for a while trying to understand what he was doing here. Finally, I figured it out: he was doing this because you can't put spaces in a URL.

Now, I can understand not realizing that there is a built-in URL encoding function and writing your own. I can even understand not knowing that there is a standard for URL escape characters and coming up with your own encoding mechanism (such as underscore for a space). But I'm not sure exactly how you can come up with this.

Maybe it's this type of ingenuity that let him become the highly paid consultant he is today ...