Developer Hell: The Top 10 'Daily WTFs'

Sit back, relax and revel in the joy that you weren't involved in these 10 projects.

Have you experienced the darker side of app development? Whether it's working for a company that has legacy -- make that "dynasty" -- software, or cleaning up the mess after outside consultants botched the project, you are not alone.

We chronicle some of your first-hand tales of software development gone horribly wrong in our DevDisasters column each month. The author of that column, Alex Papadimoulis, who is the publisher of the popular Web site The Daily WTF, and his contributor Mark Bowytz, combed through WTF's real-life tales of coding horror and inexplicably bad project management to serve up this Daily WTF top 10:

10. The Great Excel Spreadsheet
Beware of functions that contain the comment "DO NOT EVER ATTEMPT TO CHANGE THIS CALCULATION! EVER!"

9. //TODO: Uncomment Later
 Millions of dollars in damage, molten steel flying in all directions, chaos and near death...all due to one line of commented-out code.

A server is constantly rebooted due to faulty hardware and can't be replaced because of a budget freeze. The solution? Build a robot, of course.

7. Scaling Project Mountain
"Mountaineers" are appointed. They meet in the "Summit Room" wearing specially commissioned T-shirts on a section of the 5th floor set aside for the project’s offices named "The Matterhorn."

6. No, We Need a Neural Network
Management wanted to create a Neural Network that would learn how to parse raw data and free up the technicians to do their regular jobs. Armed with all the details of the existing system and its processes, M.A. explained that this was a very bad idea.

5. The Manual Migration
Think telcos always use cutting edge software and hardware? So did Joe, until he had to manually migrate data by entering it into a VB6 front-end at a national telecommunications company.

4. Poke-a-Dot     
Once a simple VBA app, DocGen grew into a 50-foot monster responsible for handling every document that passes through the organization. Thankfully it's being replaced; but until then -- pray it doesn't break!

3. Curiosity, Ignorance, Malice
With company security stopping just shy of cavity searches, Jim is amazed when he figures out how to break into a system with ease.

2. Hallway ERP
Why bother fixing up a leaky server room when there's lots of room in the hallway?

1. The .NET Bridge to Nowhere
The city's annual water quality survey is tedious and time consuming. Highly paid consultants to the rescue!

About the Authors

Alex Papadimoulis lives in Berea, Ohio. The principal member of Inedo, LLC, he uses his 10 years of IT experience to bring custom software solutions to small- and mid-sized businesses and to help other software development organizations utilize best practices in their products. On the Internet, Alex can usually be found answering questions in various newsgroups and posting some rather interesting real-life examples of how not to program on his Web site You can contact Alex directly via email at,

Mark Bowytz is a contributor to the popular Web site The Daily WTF. He has more than a decade of IT experience and is currently a systems analyst for PPG Industries.

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