Discussion on: Describe the worst coding culture you've been a part of

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Scott Hannen

I was a new developer, seated next to an experienced senior developer. (We were both doing VBA. What does that tell you?)

I had been reading about how to handle errors in VBA (they don't even have the word "exception") and I had implemented some code to handle errors, log them, and give users better error messages. I asked him for his feedback. He turned his chair to face me, looked me in the eyes, and said, "Error handling is a bad idea." It wasn't a misunderstanding. He thought error handling meant that you eat the error and the code continues. He went on to explain how it's important for users to see the unhandled VBA error pop-up or else they won't know that something is wrong and call us.

A few years later I had moved to a supposedly more advanced team working with .NET 1.1. The senior dev tried to explain why every method should contain "try/catch ex/throw ex" which even a beginner knows does nothing but eliminate the stacktrace from the exception.

Occasionally we would hire developers who would talk about this thing called "unit testing" but no one listened (including me) and they would move on after a year or so.

I met with my manager and director and explained that I wanted to learn how to write better code. I didn't want to just write stuff that barely worked. I wanted to do it well. Where or how should I learn? My director assumed that I must be talking about speed and performance, even though I had mentioned neither. He said that it didn't matter because processor cycles were cheap. I should spend 10% of my time writing software and 90% of my time manually testing it. That was the answer.

There were little ups and downs, but it never changed. Once I understood the sort of developer I wanted to be I left.

BTW - someone mentioned incompetent sociopaths. We had those and even outright real-life psychopaths, and I don't use that word lightly. When no one knows what they're doing and everything is always breaking with every release, that's the perfect environment for an ignorant executive whose only talents are yelling, threatening, and shifting blame until he gets fired.