Recent Articles

Oct 2020

Graceful Depredations

by in CodeSOD on

Cloud management consoles are, in most cases, targeted towards enterprise customers. This runs into Remy’s Law of Enterprise Software: if a piece of software is in any way described as being “enterprise”, it’s a piece of garbage.

Richard was recently poking around on one of those cloud provider’s sites. The software experience was about as luxurious as one expects, which is to say it was a pile of cryptically named buttons for the 57,000 various kinds of preconfigured services this particular service had on offer.


A Type of Useless

by in CodeSOD on

TypeScript offers certain advantages over JavaScript. Compile time type-checking can catch a lot of errors, it can move faster than browsers, so it offers the latest standards (and the compiler handles the nasty details of shimming them into browsers), plus it has a layer of convenient, syntactic sugar.

If you’re using TypeScript, you can use the compiler to find all sorts of ugly problems with your code, and all you need to do is turn the right flags on.


On the Creation

by in CodeSOD on

Understanding the Gang of Four design patterns is a valuable bit of knowledge for a programmer. Of course, instead of understanding them, it sometimes seems like most design pattern fans just… use them. Sometimes- often- overuse them. The Java Spring Framework infamously has classes with names like SimpleBeanFactoryAwareAspectInstanceFactory. Whether that's a proper use of patterns and naming conventions is a choice I leave to the reader, but boy do I hate looking at it.

The GoF patterns break down into four major categories: Behavioral, Structural, Concurrency, and Creational patterns. The Creational category, as the name implies, is all about code which can be used to create instances of objects, like that Factory class above. It is a useful collection of patterns for writing reusable, testable, and modular code. Most Dependency Injection/Inversion of Control frameworks are really just applied creational patterns.


Serial Problems

by in Feature Articles on

If we presume there is a Hell for IT folks, we can only assume the eternal torment involves configuring or interfacing with printers. Perhaps Anabel K is already in Hell, because that describes her job.

Anabel's company sells point-of-sale tools, including receipt printers. Their customers are not technical, so a third-party installer handles configuring those printers in the field. To make the process easy and repeatable, Anabel maintains an app which automates the configuration process for the third party.


Errors by the Pound

by in Error'd on

"I can understand selling swiss cheese by the slice, but copier paper by the pound?" Dave P. wrote.


Query Elegance

by in CodeSOD on

It’s generally hard to do worse than a SQL injection vulnerability. Data access is fundamental to pretty much every application, and every programming environment has some set of rich tools that make it easy to write powerful, flexible queries without leaving yourself open to SQL injection attacks.

And yet, and yet, they’re practically a standard feature of bad code. I suppose that’s what makes it bad code.


Delete This

by in CodeSOD on

About three years ago, Consuela inherited a giant .NET project. It was… not good. To communicate how “not good” it was, Consuela had a lot of possible submissions. Sending the worst code might be the obvious choice, but it wouldn’t give a good sense of just how bad the whole thing was, so they opted instead to find something that could roughly be called the “median” quality.

This is a stored procedure that is roughly about the median sample of the overall code. Half of it is better, but half of it gets much, much worse.


Extended Time

by in CodeSOD on

The C# "extension method" feature lets you implement static methods which "magically" act like they're instance methods. It's a neat feature which the .NET Framework uses extensively. It's also a great way to implement some convenience functions.

Brandt found some "convenience" functions which were exploiting this feature.


Don't Not Be Negative

by in CodeSOD on

One of my favorite illusions is the progress bar. Even the worst, most inaccurate progress bar will make an application feel faster. The simple feedback which promises "something is happening" alters the users' sense of time.

So, let's say you're implementing a JavaScript progress bar. You need to decide if you are "in progress" or not. So you need to check: if there is a progress value, and the progress value is less than 100, you're still in progress.


Try a Different Address

by in Error'd on

"Aldi doesn't deliver to a ...computer memory address!? Ok, that sounds fair," wrote Oisin.


A New Generation

by in CodeSOD on

Mapping between types can create some interesting challenges. Michal has one of those scenarios. The code comes to us heavily anonymized, but let’s see what we can do to understand the problem and the solution.

There is a type called ItemA. ItemA is a model object on one side of a boundary, and the consuming code doesn’t get to touch ItemA objects directly, it instead consumes one of two different types: ItemB, or SimpleItemB.


Nothing But Garbage

by in CodeSOD on

Janell found herself on a project where most of her team were offshore developers she only interacted with via email, and a tech lead who had not ever programmed on the .NET Framework, but did some VB6 “back in the day”, and thus “knew VB”.

The team dynamic rapidly became a scenario where the tech lead issued an edict, the offshore team blindly applied it, and then Janell was left staring at the code wondering how to move forward with this.


Slow Load

by in Feature Articles on

LED traffic light on red

After years spent supporting an enterprisey desktop application with a huge codebase full of WTFs, Sammy thought he had seen all there was to be seen. He was about to find out how endlessly deep the bottom of the WTF barrel truly was.


Intergral to Dating

by in CodeSOD on

Date representations are one of those long-term problems for programmers, which all ties into the problem that "dates are hard". Nowadays, we have all these fancy date-time types that worry about things like time zones and leap years, and all of that stuff for us. Pretty much everything, at some level, relies on the Unix Epoch. But there is a time before that was the standard.

In the mainframe era, not all the numeric representations worked the same way that we're used to, and it was common to simply define the number of digits you wanted to store. So, if you wanted to store a date, you could define an 8-digit field, and store the date as 20201012: October 10th, 2020.


Math is HARD!

by in Error'd on

"Boy oh boy! You can't beat that free shipping for the low, low price of $4!" Zenith wrote.


Translation by Column

by in Feature Articles on

Content management systems are… an interesting domain in software development. On one hand, they’re one of the most basic types of CRUD applications, at least at their core. On the other, it’s the sort of problem domain where you can get 90% of what you need really easily, but the remaining 10% are the cases that are going to make you pull your hair out.

Which is why pretty much every large CMS project supports some kind of plugin architecture, and usually some sort of marketplace to curate those plugins. That kind of curation is hard, writing plugins tends to be more about “getting the feature I need” and less about “releasing a reliable product”, and thus the available plugins for most CMSes tend to be of wildly varying quality.


A Long Time to Master Lambdas

by in CodeSOD on

At an old job, I did a significant amount of VB.Net work. I didn’t hate VB.Net. Sure, the syntax was clunky, but autocomplete mostly solved that, and it was more OR
less feature-matched to C# (and, as someone who needed to handle XML, the fact that VB.Net had XML literals was handy).

Every major feature in C# had a VB.Net equivalent, including lambdas. And hey, lambdas are great! What a wonderful way to express a filter condition.


Excellent Data Gathering

by in News Roundup on

In a global health crisis, like say, a pandemic, accurate and complete data about its spread is a "must have". Which is why, in the UK, there's a great deal of head-scratching over how the government "lost" thousands of cases.

Oops.


Switched Requirements

by in CodeSOD on

Code changes over time. Sometimes, it feels like gremlins sweep through the codebase and change it for us. Usually, though, we have changes to requirements, which drives changes to the code.

Thibaut was looking at some third party code to implement tooling to integrate with it, and found this C# switch statement:


No Escape

by in Error'd on

"Last night's dinner was delicious!" Drew W. writes.


Imploded Code

by in CodeSOD on

Cassi’s co-worker (previously) was writing some more PHP. This code needed to take a handful of arguments, like id and label and value, and generate HTML text inputs.

Well, that seems like a perfect use case for PHP. I can’t possibly see how this could go wrong.