Recent CodeSOD

Code Snippet Of the Day (CodeSOD) features interesting and usually incorrect code snippets taken from actual production code in a commercial and/or open source software projects.

Mar 2020

Just a Bit Bad

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Eyal N works on some code which relies on "bit matrices": 2D arrays of bits. Since they are working in C, in practice this means that they have one giant array of bytes and methods to handle getting and setting specific entries in the matrix.

One day, Eyal sat down to do a remote pair-programming session with a co-worker. It started out alright, but the hours ticked by, the problem they were dealing with kept showing thornier and thornier edge cases, and instead of calling it a day, they worked late into the night.

An Ugly Mutation

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If there’s a hell for programmers, it probably involves C-style strings on some level. C’s approach to strings is rooted in arrays, and arrays are rooted in pointers, and now suddenly everything is memory manipulation, and incautious printf and memcpy commands cause buffer overruns. I'm oversimplifying and leaving out some of the better libraries that make this less painful, but the roots remain the same.

Fortunately, most of the time, we’re not working with that sort of string representation. If you’re using a high-level language, like Java, you get all sorts of perks, like abstract string methods, no concerns about null termination, and immutability by default.

String Up Your Replacement

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Generating SQL statements is a necessary feature of many applications. String concatenation is the most obvious, and also the most wrong way to do this. Most APIs these days offer a way to construct SQL statements out of higher-level abstractions, whether we’re talking about .NET’s LINQ, or the QueryBuilder objects in many languages.

But let’s say you’re doing string concatenation. This means you need to have lots of literals in your code. And literal values, as we know, are bad. So we need to avoid these magic values by storing them in variables.

Accidental Toast of the Town

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Don't you just love it when some part of your app just suddenly and magically STOPS working all of a sudden?

Our submitter David sure does (not). While working on his Android app, much to his surprise, he noticed that after one build, it wasn't displaying pop-up toast style notifications.

Deep VB

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Thomas had an application which was timing out. The code which he sent us has nothing to do with why it was timing out, but it provides a nice illustration of why timeouts and other bugs are a common “feature” of the application.

The codebase contains 9000+ line classes, functions with hundreds of lines, and no concept of separation of function. So, when someone needed to look at an account number and decide if that account needs special handling, this is what they did:

GUID Enough, I Guess

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Philemon Eichin has a depressing problem: his codebase is full of WTFs and git blame always returns his name. It's not his fault! Before he joined the team, "source control" was "a zip file named

Periodically, he'll trawl through the codebase, tracking down ugly, bad code and fixing it, as a way to cut down on how many WTFs are attached to his name.

Dating for Three Months

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Nathaniel P writes: “We have long agreed never to ask ‘why’ for any code in this project. We can only speculate, and therein lies madness.”

There’s a lot to speculate about in this block. Like so much bad code, it touches upon that favorite source of bad code: date handling. And, at its core, this code is actually fine, but it still puzzles us:

Request for Quote

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Once upon a time, a client needed Initech to develop a custom tool for them. It would be mildly complex to develop, in terms of developer hours, and in respect of that, the client offered a budget of zero dollars. “But,” they added, “we are looking to do a major upgrade later this year.”

The hint came through loud and clear. Since the development teams charged billable hours, the boss didn’t want to run the project through the usual channels. Besides, there were perfectly good internal development resources, who maintained the internal SharePoint site.

Unique Subscription

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Today’s anonymous submission starts with “I inherited an old wordpress site that uses an external corporate authentication server for logins.”

As one might expect, the result is a hodgepodge of reinvented wheels and anti-patterns. Deep in the authentication code, there’s a method to add an email subscription. You might ask yourself, “What does adding an email subscription have to do with authentication?” and you’ve already put more thought into the design than the original developer.