Scott Selikoff

Aug 2010

Swallowed by the Beast

by in CodeSOD on

Paul was having a good morning.  It was a beautiful day outside, he managed to shave 15 minutes off his commute, and even the local coffee shop had his favorite donut in stock.  All of that changed when he got his first support call of the day.  It was from a client running "the beast" product.  "The beast", as Paul and his coworkers nicknamed it, was a legacy version of their application developed somewhere overseas years before Paul was hired, by hundreds of poorly trained, and probably poorly paid, developers.  The company's sales team actively encouraged clients to upgrade from the legacy application, but a select few had resisted.

"The beast" had a reputation for containing some of the worst code Paul had ever seen and every time he had to support it, he felt like he needed a shower afterwards.  It was during his fourth hour of debugging that Paul came across a previously unvisited function shown below.