5 Scary Developer Stories for Halloween

5 Scary Developer Stories for Halloween

πŸŽƒ Here are some spooky stories that developers may experience πŸ¦‡

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Victoria Lo

Published on Oct 29, 2021

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Hello everyone, so October is coming to an end, and Halloween is around the corner. It's a perfect time to publish this fun article on some spooky stories that developers may experience.

In this article, here are some scenarios that are just nightmares for any developer to ever encounter. Please comment at the end of this article to share any of your scariest experiences as a developer.

1. Inefficient Code πŸ‘»

Let's start with the most obvious situation: looking at unorganized and inefficient code. Just the thought can make one shudder. For example, multiple if statements or nested if statements are too scary for me; or unnecessary repeated code.

//never ending if statements
if(a){
  if(a == b){
     doSomething();
     if...
   } else if (a == c){
     doAnotherThing();
      if...
   }
}else if (b){
  if(b == c){
     doSomethingElse();
   } else if (b == d){
     doAnotherSomething();
   }
}
//...

2. Poor Commenting, Variable Names, etc. 😨

Any vague variable names, function names and uninformative comments can be a developer's nightmare. Especially when tasked to debug or troubleshoot code that does not belong to you. Diving into a plethora of code with such a level of ambiguity will make you spend hours just trying to understand what it does.

// uninformative variable/function names + poor comments
var a;
var b;
var c;

// This function is a function that calls doSomething
(()=>{
   doSomething(a,b,c);
})

3. One Bug Fixed, Another Arrives 😬

This one could be a common horror story to some developers. It is when you spent hours looking for a bug or an error that was caused by very trivial sources; such as a semicolon, a comma, a small typo, etc.

The scariest part of the story is that there are more bugs appearing after that one bug got fixed. For example, a developer experienced this when an error shows 2 incompatible libraries, so one of them had to be updated. But after updating, several libraries that were dependent on the updated library were now incompatible, and the cycle goes on. That was not fun at all.

4. Where is my data? 😰

A friend just shared this scary story with me last week. She was testing a feature on the product's database. She then wrote an SQL query to remove her fake test data:

DELETE from product_db
where "order_status" = "failed"

However, she only copied the first line and executed only the DELETE from product_db line. You can probably guess what happened next. The entire product_db data was deleted.

She panicked and spent hours trying to recover the data before telling her team. Eventually, she had to come clean and fortunately for her, all the data were mock data anyway, so the senior engineers do not mind that it was purged (even by accident). This was truly a developer's horror story.

5. Refactoring a huge code base 😱

As a code base gets larger, there may be a time when you are tasked to refactor the thousands of lines of code. A close friend of mine who experienced this knows very well how much of a huge pain and headache this is, especially when the person who wrote the code is no longer in the company and left zero proper comments, variable names, etc.

It becomes increasingly frustrating when trying to "repair" the code by yourself; when you are the only one in the company who cares about structure, testing and long-term sustainability for the code base.

Conclusion

Thanks for reading. While this article is meant for just some light-hearted scary story sharing, these are all real 'scary' experiences to a developer. For many who experienced one of the stories I've told, there is always a solution or a prevention method, such as sticking to best practices.

So, have you experienced these scary stories yourself? If not, what other frightful situations have you experienced as a developer? Please share in the comments below, and I might re-tell your story for next year's Halloween! Have a scarily good Halloween weekend, cheers!

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