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Anastasia 🏄🏻‍♀️ for actiTIME Inc

Posted on • Updated on

What are the worst nightmares for devs? 🎃

Let's share some of the worst-case scenarios and nightmare-inducing horrors in the work of the devs.

My #1 nightmare is cleaning up lengthy, real complex, unreadable, critically ridden code with bugs left behind by the previous developer 👻👻👻

Discussion (56)

tomassirio profile image
Tomas Sirio

Working really hard on something that is then never used by nobody or even scrapped and forgotten into oblivion

steinbring profile image
Joe Steinbring

I learned a long time ago that you need to separate the code that you write from your sense of professional self-worth. Write better code than you did yesterday and try to better someone's workflow but the app is the company's (not yours).

It took a major toilet manufacturer canning a Spanish-language HR app that I worked month on to learn that lesson.

rfaugusto profile image
Rafael Alberti Cantoni Augusto

Never thought of it that way. I know it seems pretty obvious, but "do today better than yesterday but the app is the company's" should bring us some relief...
I mean, if everybody thought of it that way, we would have so much people on the brink of war because of self-pride... :P

andrewbaisden profile image
Andrew Baisden

Ah hate when that happens. Once I was working on a new feature and then the CEO who's mind changes like the weather decided that he did not want it anymore...

merri profile image
Vesa Piittinen • Edited on

You start off your day fresh. You have a clear goal on what you want to do.

You start doing stuff. But you encounter a nasty bug that prevents you from validating what you're doing, so you must resolve this bug first.

The nature of the bug forces you to resort to jumping from commit to commit trying to find the issue.

Your email starts shouting. Somebody had the idea to ask people share their calendars which has the side effect of sending email about it to everyone.

You have a meeting.

You have a second meeting.

After these you find the commit that breaks everything. You look at it in GitHub and it seems like a harmless one line change by Dependabot.

In reality it is a merge commit that contains a full version's worth of changes to hundreds of files.

You go for lunch.

You return back and are a bit tired, because food. You start trying to pinpoint the issue using bisect.

You have another 1½ hour meeting.

You are dead from all the meetings, the mail constantly throwing more stuff about the calendar, and the fact you now end up with mysterious blank white pages in every bisect commit you try, not helping to figure out the original commit causing the bug you try to locate.

Oh, sorry, this was my day today. Lines of code written: 0. Bugs solved: 0. Goals achieved: none.

yaythomas profile image

"can't you just. . ." coming from the mouth of a non-technical senior person being "helpful". Possibly goes with some vague hand-waving. 😱

On the more technical side, tricksy multi-thread concurrency bugs. Bonus points if it relies on a big service framework even to try to reproduce the problem.

anja profile image

When the requirements change and you have to start all over again

rafo profile image
Rafael Osipov

That's a widespread situation in an agile environment. Too few customers are ready to employ waterfall approach (writing a full technical description, before starting the coding part).

janegareth profile image

When a critical bug occurs during the demo 😅

jackdcasey profile image

Anyone else pre-record demos to combat this?

torik17 profile image

Week three as a junior dev I was given a task to clean up s3 buckets that hadn't been touched in years and accidentally deleted one that looked empty but had a CNAME redirect in it and took down production. The scramble to figure out what happened and the stress of what that might have meant if one of the senior devs didn't figure it out fast enough still gives me chills.

olivierjm profile image
Olivier JM Maniraho

@ben maybe we should have a sad reaction on comments.
This comment touched me, a day can't get worse.

maureento8888 profile image
Maureen T'O

Oh gosh, the worst possible nightmare! Worse than accidentally committing secret keys and sensitive files to repo 💀

youhan profile image
Alireza Jahandideh


monderred profile image
Israel Rosas

"It needs to work on IE8" believe it or not a major Telecom company i'm working for requires this for every single project...

youhan profile image
Alireza Jahandideh


zerosand1s profile image
Harshal Gangurde

Oh since nobody has mentioned yet, deployment on Friday

carlosds profile image
Karel De Smet

Second that. Don't do it, just don't...

ben profile image
Ben Halpern

Data leaked is forever. If anyone has compromised user privacy, you can't un-compromise it.

ludamillion profile image
Luke Inglis

This. Tied with destroying user data in an irreversible/very difficult to restore way. Especially in a highly regulated industry.

Speaking for a friend of course...

realappie profile image

Editing a production database that doesn't have a backup, and ruining the production data in an irreversible way.

steinbring profile image
Joe Steinbring

Biggest longterm fear: Being told you don't "You don't really have enough experience with the stack that we are working with" when looking for a new job

Biggest midterm fear: Being asked "Why didn't your time estimate cover the new requests that we gave you since then?"

Biggest short-term fear: Realizing that an engineering decision is a dead-end and that I should have done something else 40 hours ago.

erik06 profile image

CORS issues...

jessesbyers profile image
Jesse Smith Byers

Working remotely while home-schooling, and a child knocks over a full mug of coffee onto the laptop, during a pandemic shutdown when the laptop cannot be easily repaired or replaced...

ifkas profile image
Ivo Culic

So much pain on this, I can feel it!

quasipickle profile image
Dylan Anderson

Anything involving certificates.

tominekan profile image
Tomi Adenekan

Having to make changes to code that was written by someone who did not know what they were doing.😵

brianhhough profile image
Brian H. Hough

"This is just a...quick fix...right?"
awkward laughs and looks at me to fix it 👀

Talk about ~spooky~

namikka profile image
Kare Salo

Nothing's more horrible than real life scenarios so:
I worked on this dating site as a main and only developer, and it was my first jobs so not much experience. One day, while working on the site, I commented some parts of code that was interfering my work, like popups and "show this only for certain users"-elements. But I got things done so: git commit, git push, test that it works in demo and live. Good, log out, pack my things, say bye to the rest of the team and go home.
Next day I come back, get coffee, say hi to people, log on and check my mails.
There's a new mail in the support account's inbox from some user.
"I just logged in to my account, but I realized that I typoed my password. I checked and the password doesn't have to be even right. Is this normal?"
That's weird, but I'll check the login page's code right away.
And there I see the answer.
$password = $_POST["password"];
$checkPassword = true; // checkLoginCredentials($username, $password);
I did the fastest update I've ever done, let the user know that it was no big deal, told the manager and tried to check if other accounts were abused.
I didn't find any abuse, but to be honest:
There wasn't any monitoring for logins.
That site has been dead for years now, it only had maybe a hundred users when that happened so no big damage done.

bedawang profile image
Christof Becu • Edited on

Getting a deadline on front-end features, while the data & methods are not yet implemented in the backend.

jonoyeong profile image
Jonathan Yeong

Being on-call when the entire devops team is on holiday.

Please never leave me devops.

dougbutner profile image
Douglas Butner

For me it's just stagnation. The worst thing that can happen to a Dev is they stop learning, and write the "same code" forever.

mikeyglitz profile image

Working on any project which requires cross-team collaboration. There's always last minute surprises and a lot of headache when you're someone tells you over lunch they want you to push out a change before the end of the day.

jankapunkt profile image
Jan Küster

Having to deal with customers.

christiangroeber profile image
Christian Gröber

I've been working on a project for over a year now and I absolutely love it, I've learned so much and, not to toot my own horn, but I love what I've built so far. But right now there's a lot of tension in the company's leadership I'm building this platform for and I'm super afraid it'll just die.

ctrleffive profile image
Chandu J S

Accidently dropping stash

t_polgrabia profile image
Tomasz Półgrabia

There are lots of nightmares in IT. As somebody said, technology is easy, people are hard.

  • Ever changing requirements. These damn 'business analytics' think that if we have agile (we work under Scrum), it's ok to change requirements the same day we release it and without informing you. (in Scrum sprint is 2 weeks long and requirements should be frozen). Are 2 weeks too long now not to change spec?
  • culture of crunch - you're developer, it's one line fix, isn't it?. Just to explain - crunch is ok when there is a time to have rest then. But if we have crunch after crunch? It's becoming a norm,
  • Testing cycle is more than 2 weeks when you have scrum 2 weeks. I have been getting 'review feedbacks' from testers after 1-1.5 months when I hardly remember what I was doing at that point of time,
  • many bugs are reported as one,
  • requirements based on examples or even on the legacy old system - 'it's supposed to be working as X'. BA say it's impossible to enumerate all validations and requirements upfront but do should developers be able to reverse engineering old stuff?
  • no technical understanding from business analytics - they were supposed to be intermediaries between developers and clients but they are not. I have met only few of them who had extensive technical knowledge

Summing up, IT business is still in its evolutionary childhood. Civic engineering and other professions have had already some time to develop good practices

gabbyj profile image
Gabrielle Jacobs

“I had a thought. Can we try something?”

— Every non-technical client who thinks code is drag and drop

arvsindrarys profile image
Arvs Indrarys

Working hard to produce clean, scalable and readable code, to see it declining in a matter of days when another dev is in charge on the project.

anadev profile image

When they ask you something complex, that takes time and effort, but they change their minds in the end, so all that hard work was for nothing, and you still need to re-do the project, but you don't want to, because your heart is crushed.

zaffja profile image
Zafri Zulkipli • Edited on

True story that happened to me few weeks back. Our company is a subscription based company where we charge active users periodically. I've used an un-tested feature from one of our system which causes massive reactivation of users that have already unsubscribed. This leads to severe overcharging issue of already unsubscribed users to which till now I'm still cleaning up the mess. :-(

anupkasat profile image

Imagine you are making enhancements into an existing feature. You code, test and deploy it on QA environment. Then tester reports a bug which is not reproducing on DEV environment because the steps tester gave was only A and remaining BCDEF you had to figure out. So you spent time on it and now you have found the exact steps to reproduce the bug and found that the code which is causing the bug you did not even touch it !! So the bug was there from Last sprint which nobody found and you get blamed by your manager for it because now it's logged under your story !! 🤷🏻‍♂️

rafo profile image
Rafael Osipov

When not properly tested code (poor designed tests, etc, you name it) is being merged to the master branch and the whole project breaks down a day before the demonstration for the customer.

gbrantunes profile image
Gabriel Antunes

Tasks non well documented.

darkwiiplayer profile image

Tasks very well documented... 10 years ago

darkwiiplayer profile image
DarkWiiPlayer • Edited on
#define malloc(n) malloc((n)-(rand()%5)*(__LINE__%2) // 🎃
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crivion profile image
Alex Crivion • Edited on

My #1 nightmare is the flow and speed of the JS frameworks getting released everyday. Guess what, everyone will write that as a keyword when posting a job

cirphrank profile image

Losing interest in a project halfway due to the client's deviation from brief initially given, repeatedly. No debugging can solve this particular nightmare, I simply sigh endlessly and pray.

alvarezgarcia profile image
Alvarez García

"Ok, let's make this small fixes on the stage branch, just minor things"

1 month later the branch is near a brand new product.

"Hey, you are the guy who knows the rebase thing, right?"

eddsaura profile image
Jose E Saura

To lose the hability to learn

michaeldownton profile image
Michael Downton

A single cascading error that stops payroll.

It was you're small change that started it.

Your rent is due tomorrow.

Basically Knight Capital.

themafro profile image
Matthew Francis


dmahely profile image
Doaa Mahely

More requirements and tasks being added to a feature without the deadline changing.

youhan profile image
Alireza Jahandideh • Edited on

My boss asking me to minimize all windows and insisting on minimizing the desktop background thinking it is also a window. How could I suppress my laugh?! 🤣

sobiwankenobi profile image

Having to use the software they write... shudder