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Obscure Code


Here is an email I received in response to one of my essays.

Obscure Code : anonymous : 2000-09-01

For obvious reasons I’d prefer you posted this anonymously.

Function names

We started at 64 characters, this was extended to 256 in v2 then 1024 in v3.

And it was a magic number, char …[1024] scattered throughout the code. Despite the change, each time the magic number was increased (by the client who had the source code —a _real_ bad idea — we had an engineer full time for 18 months inserting their code changes (sent monthly in inch thick paper forms) into our code base) rather than using a define. So it took days to increase the size… Of course, this also meant that even short names used a full 1K of memory (actually I think we kept at least three copies…). For some reason, once customers downloaded 20MB debug files the debugger was very s l o w

We now have to support unlimited (232) length function names because 1024 was not enough.

I_would_now_like_to_add_a_value_to_another_value_while …

Long lines

The debugger source views started by supporting 32K × 2K lines, but was increased at release v1 to 64K × 2K. The client did report customers complained that they couldn’t debug code longer than 64K lines! The new requirement is to support 232 × 224 lines. I hate to think who writes lines 224 characters long, but you’d probably need it since a function name can be 232 characters. (I don’t think the client has spotted that contradiction and I’m not about to point it out to them.) Testing this limit is going to be such fun and such a perfect excuse for an Itanium workstation with 4GB RAM (Random Access Memory).

So thank us software tool writers for supporting such ridiculous requests and helping make code maintenance a dabbler free zone.


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