Recent Articles

Feb 2022

Switch Kicker

by in CodeSOD on

As covered previously, game code generally doesn't represent an interesting WTF. But bad e-commerce code certainly does. So today, Rhys sends us some JavaScript from a web-based fantasy-football (for non-USA values of football) site. Given that it handles microtransactions and in-game items passed between players, it's definitely more on the e-commerce side of things than anything else.

And much like that previous article, this one does involve a very large switch, but before we get to the switch, we have to get to the state validator:

Down the Rarebit Hole

by in Error'd on

This week's Error'd episode includes a bonus submission from our good friend A. Bargle, at no extra charge. TRWTF is in the browser, perhaps, but it's just so gosh darn funny. It's likely that what tickles me is entirely inscrutable to all of you (especially those coming to English as a second language), and if so, I apologize. But at least one of us is having a good time!

Not actually a hydrologist Carl C. has uncovered evidence of an entire cadre of wayward rivers roamin' the wikipedian underground. "I got so excited by this that I forgot why I was looking up the Nueces River on Wikipedia." It's not just the poor lost Rubicon!

Double Bagged

by in Feature Articles on

Many years ago, Yazeran needed to work with some floor-plan data. Now, fortunately for Yazeran, a vendor had already collected this information and packed it up behind a SOAP-based web service, so it would in theory be easy to get. This was long enough ago that SOAP was all the rage, and computers with multiple gigabytes of RAM were still on the higher end of things.

In fact, there was an end-point called GetFullDataExtract which promised to, as the name implies, get him all the data. Yazeran didn't need all the data, but the other end-point, GetGMLBuildings returned only the subset of data Yazeran didn't need. So Yazeran simply had to request too much.


by in CodeSOD on

We're going to do something a little different. I don't like to do posts about game related code. Games are entirely about shipping something out the door on tight timelines and tight budgets, and it's very much the category of "if it works it's good". There are exceptions, like when you ship an actual WTF, but "bad game code" is not really that interesting.

Awhile back, indie game VVVVVV went open source which gives us a picture of how the sausage is actually made. Now, this is emphatically not a WTF, this isn't wrong or a mistake, this is just the kind of thing that gets a game shipped, especially when it's a small budget indie game, by basically one person.

A Commentary on Military Force

by in CodeSOD on

Once upon a time, Simon worked for a company making software for missile systems. This was serious work, with serious testing procedures, and important standards around documentation.

Shortly before a live-fire test of a missile system, Simon knew better than to make any code changes, but he did want to improve the documentation. Adding comments was pretty low risk, so he went ahead and did that. By the time he was done, the Turbo Pascal code that controlled the missile looked like this:

Put Down the Pipe

by in CodeSOD on

Camden's team works on an internal Angular application. Angular is constantly releasing new versions, and while they're largely backwards compatible, as the rule goes: every change breaks someone's workflow. Camden's team started to upgrade to Angular 12, only to discover that one of their dependencies wouldn't resolve. It refused to work with any version of Angular greater than 8.

The specific dependency promised to safely sanitize external resources, like DOM snippets and URLs fetched from an external source. At its core, it wrapped around the Angular DomSanitizer object, which provided all the plumbing for handling sanitization.

In the fullness of time.

by in Error'd on

Regulargle Argle garbles "It's an advertisement. At least... it says so." Hey, if you can't believe advertisements, what can you believe?

Promotional Development

by in CodeSOD on

Upgrading to a new point release on the Linux kernel isn't the riskiest thing you can do in your infrastructure, but it's not completely without risk. It's not so much that the kernel maintainers are playing fast and loose- they're a very conservative bunch for the most part- but some application code might be making assumptions that become incorrect in the next release.

For Ramona's company, that happened. They updated the kernel, and immediately one of their libraries, written in C++, started segfaulting. Now, the developer behind it was still with the organization, but had climbed the ranks- he was no longer a Software Engineer, or even a Senior Software Engineer, but was now a Senior Solutions Architect and was not to be bothered with trivial things.

Getting Reported

by in CodeSOD on

Monica sends us a code snippet that comes from her organization's home-brewed reporting engine. She writes:

I have always found that "Homebrew Reporting Engines" are always full of WTF material. For some reason, coded reports are a "good place to learn the codebase" for junior engineers and usually have deadline of "just get that done".

The Biased Bug

by in Feature Articles on

2018-09-22 Royal typewriter keyboard

Back in the 90s, Steve was the head (i.e. only) programmer and CEO of a small company. His pride and joy was a software package employed by many large businesses. One day, a client of Steve's named Winston called him concerning a critical, show-stopping bug.

Inner Exceptions

by in CodeSOD on

One of Raquel's junior developers was having some troubles. They had a Lua script that needed to call out to a Redis store to fetch data. The poor developer was getting useless "failed to communicate to redis," message and needed help figuring out what was going on.

Of course, the Lua script wasn't the problem. The company was building a full on Inner-Platform. The core application stack was actually in Java, but it was extensible with Lua scripts. The Java code was meant to handle all the plumbing and interacting with the data store, and the Lua code could then just be where developers put their business logic.


by in Error'd on

Gringo Timothy W. shivers "It's going to be a cold time in Havana tonight!"

Leaky Logs

by in CodeSOD on

For years, Carla's company had a Java application with a memory leak. No one had the time, energy, or budget to actually do anything about the leak, so they "fixed" it by just forcing a nightly reboot.

When Carla asked about the nightly reboot, the elders who had been around for awhile simply said, "there were some issues we couldn't track down."

A Little Obtuse

by in CodeSOD on

AngularJS, (not to be confused with Angular, its successor project and ostensible replacement) made some… interesting design choices. Controllers existed in a tree, mapped to the DOM, and were glued together by a special object called $scope. You would store your data in the $scope, and depending on exactly how you did it, that data could be accessible at various levels within the tree. $scope also doubled as an event bus, so controllers could send messages up and down the tree as needed.

In short, there's a reason why AngularJS fell out of favor.

Multilingual Development

by in Feature Articles on

Lisa's company needed to add some custom functionality to a third-party application- IniERP- which was made easier by the fact that the company had a SOAP web service to interact with. The vendor supplied Java sample code for building the service, so it was trivial for Lisa to build her own code to automate those interactions. And everything went fine, and her users were happy.

So fine, and so happy, that other teams heard: "there's a way to integrate your applications into IniERP." Every department in the company had business processes which touched IniERP on some level, so "Lisa built a thing which lets you do this!" got her a lot of emails.

Validly Numeric

by in CodeSOD on

Writing validation rules is one of the more tedious tasks a developer might need to do. Like testing code, it's all about finding edge cases, checking boundaries, and being exhaustive in your search for invalid data. Garbage in, garbage out, and validation filters the garbage.

But you might also be a bit too thorough. Kevin found this validation rule in his C# codebase:

Sick Day

by in Error'd on

How much longer will we endure wave after wave of novel coronaviruses? One school of thought holds that omicron or its immediate successor will soon burn its way through the human population and render everyone immune. So here is our entire stash of covid-related submissions before they get old, stale, and boring.

Lonely Tim looking for love in all the wrong places, wails "I don't even count as a friend?"

A Tern in the Stream

by in CodeSOD on

Java's streams feature allows developers to use functional programming techniques to operate on sets of data. Used correctly, it can create expressive and readable code. Used incorrectly, well…

Gevatter Tod found this while searching for a bug.


by in CodeSOD on

For a lot of real-world situations, I'm a big fan of "event driven programming", or as I think about it, "bus oriented programming". Instead of coupling objects directly, objects just publish events to a shared bus, and the events get routed to the other objects which care about them, in a declarative fashion. It's not a "write all programs" this way sort of stance, it's just there are a lot of real world cases where I've found this to be very effective.

Ricardo's co-worker seems to share my opinions, but perhaps maybe not quite my reasoning. This is the PHP code for handling checking out of their storefront:

Numb to Truth

by in CodeSOD on

In the ancient times, philosophers asked the hard questions, like What Is Truth? And just when we might thing those questions have been answered, Uli brings us a new twist on an old classic.

"I found this while browsing an ancient C++ codebase," Uli writes.