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Burke Holland
Burke Holland

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Programming HORROR Stories

Programming horror stories: I've got one. You've probably got at least one yourself. And I know that because there is an entire sub-reddit dedicated to the subject.

My horror story is a long one, but we can just summarize it with the letters "XSLT". Apologies up front because you can't unsee that.

But mine kind of pales in comparison to a few of the ones out there that I've heard. Here are two horror stories from good developers like you and me who were just in the wrong place at the wrong time.

The monster hiding in your code

This one is truly terrifying. I couldn't even believe it when I read the original story on reddit. Believe it or not, there is such thing as a "zero width" unicode character and, well, you can imagine the chaos this can cause you if it ends up in your code...


Can you imagine spending hours looking for a character that you literally can't see? That is the kind of thing that would make you seriously reconsider your career choice. But more importantly, HOW DID THAT CHARACTER GET THERE?!?!

Losing code into the abyss

This one is about the core fear that ever developer has - losing your work. We've got source control for this, but it still happens? How does it it happen? With the right series of events and some small mistakes along the way...

Now yes, you should always commit your work, but the point is that these things happen. Nobody is perfect and it's way too easy to destroy hours of good work with a single click. I know. I've done this myself!

I've seen some 💩

I'm...old. We don't need to get into specific numbers, but sometimes I feel like that Batman meme...

Batman with a shocked look

Every last name in the ERP database changed to the same thing. All credit card purchases made in the last 24 hours double charged because asynchronous processing is hard. A 6 month refactor that yields a much slower and worse UI. The nightmare goes on an on.

But what about you? What are your programming horror stories?

Top comments (1)

jeoxs profile image
José Aponte

Fortunately, the invisible Unicode character will be noticed by the IDE if you render all whitespace characters.

But, of course, losing the code into the abyss is very terrifying.