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App Developer Chat: Horror Stories in App Development

Last week on #AppDevChat we had a discussion on Horror Stories in App Development.

AppDevChat is open to any app developers or others interested in learning about developing, creating, inventing, marketing apps. It happens every Thursday at 10am PST on twitter. We post the recap here.

Q1)  Tell us about a time that a project went horrifically wrong, why and how you fixed it?

A dev left the company mid project. Went to download the repo to finish up the project – it was EMPTY! Luckily it wasn’t a big project, 3 days without sleep and we ended up being able to deliver to the client on time. Phew! @TheCodeBender


Inherited legacy code from overseas and everything was in a different language with bad comments. We fixed it by just spending some extra time w/ the code & virtually having to rebuild it ourselves. @PlaysTogether


Q2) How do you cope/manage issues when services like Twitter/Facebook change their #API & there’s a sudden bug in your app?

We just have to go in and make modifications to the app, and let any clients know of the problem. It’s a pain sometimes. @QManning

Constant vigilance!!! The only way to prepare is to scour the forums and watch the announcements. @PlaysTogether

Well FB/Twitter usually notify way in advance when these changes are occurring. Hopefully you heed the warning ahead of time in that case u would make the changes and submit an update before the API changes were mandatory and forced into effect. @TheCodeBender

Well the first step is not to panic, and come at the problem intelligently and with a detailed plan. Don’t rush, be thorough. @PyrrhicStudios


Q3) What is the most horrific thing you’ve found in legacy code?

Over 8,000 lines of in-line SQL that wasn’t injection proof! @PlaysTogether

Rather than loading images async via URL, they were written as byte data to a text file and then read from the file URL.  Like a feed of 30 images had you just sitting at the spinning wheel for something like 2-3 minutes solid. @TheCodeBender


Q4) When is the appropriate time to “bury the hatchet” with legacy code and just start over?

Well in my personal experience: Every Time. More realistically it depends on the size/scope of the project. Small scale may be easy to rework but large scale is tough. Also the degree of “garbageness” comes into play. Some legacy code is worse than others. @TheCodeBender

Depends on estimates. You need to take into consideration your deadlines and you should get more than 1 engineers estimates.  Also make an internal deadline for how long the project can go w/your team working on the legacy code w/o ramifications. @PlaysTogether


Q5) Some say it’s extremely dangerous to throw away old code (or legacy code) because “Old code has been used. It has been tested. Lots of bugs have been found, and they’ve been fixed.” Thoughts?

Depends on where the “legacy” came from – in my experience the legacy code has more problems than not and fixing 1 problem creates another, like plugging leaks in a sinking ship. Plug one and the pressure creates another. in most cases when it was all said and done we look back and said in the time we spent we could have rebuilt it. @TheCodeBender


Q6)  In your opinions, what is the scariest thing about developing apps?

If you invested time and money in it and it returns nothing. Developing for clients gets scary after submission, I start thinking about things I may have missed. not sure why I do that! @SuperTapp

I think as a dev you always worry that some complication will spring up and cause a delay which will put you behind schedule, as far as client work is concerned, but for personal dev @SuperTapp is right on queue. With the nature of the app market landscape, turning your ideas into an app is sorta like educated gambling. The more you have to spend (time, money, creativity) the more you can win, but the more you could also lose. @TheCodeBender


Q7)  Does anyone have a project horror story they’d like to share whether personal project or client related?

Once upon a time there was this evil project that consumed developers time like a black hole… 2900+ hours to be exact. They are still trapped in a labyrinth of pain, like alice chasing the rabbit down the hole that never ends. @TheCodeBender

Setting up an app in iTunes connect is a horror story every time due to how slow it is and it constantly loggin you out. @SuperTapp


Join us for #appdevchat on Thursday November 7th at 10am PST and be sure to use

If you’d like to participate and lead a discussion, please contact [email protected]