Self Destructing Wolves (My Favorite Bug Ever)

I said I’d talk about the most difficult bug I’ve ever encountered, but I want to talk about my favorite bug instead. The most difficult issues I’ve faced in programming have been working with bad legacy code, but those stories are just me bashing my head against the keyboard because someone used !important on every other line of a stylesheet.

Instead I want to talk about my favorite bug ever, which took about 30 seconds to fix, but which I’m still thinking about five years later. Here’s the story of the self destructing wolves.

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Fun In Horrible API Land

There’s plenty of API horror stories out there, I figured I’d share mine. This is a story of a certain API of a certain piece of software and the trials and tribulations I went through to avoid making users upload a CSV file.

Background: There’s not a lot of software in the space of the company I was working for at the time. The quality ranges from poor to less poor and my company opted for one of the less flexible more stable bad options–I will call it Athletic. This was customer facing software that had a very decent user experience if you were a customer and a very bad experience if you were actually paying for it.

So I’m building a web app to be used internally at my company which needs data from the software in Athletic. The options are: 1. Download an excel spreadsheet that you can export from Athletic, convert it into a CSV, and upload it. This works, but is a painful process for users and this will need to be repeated weekly, sometimes more often. Option 2 is to use Athletic’s API. I opt for option two. So the odyssey begins.

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