One of my coworkers (Mike Pope) sent me the link to a great blog post by Raymond Chen that was titled "Don't forget to replace your placeholder bitmaps with real bitmaps". Raymond's blog was a good story, but he referenced another great blog post titled "We Burned the Poop", and let's be honest - who can resist reading a blog post with a great title like that? (Note: I won't spoil the impact of that blog - you should read it first.)
But reading those two blog posts made me think back about the various code blunders that I've made over the years, which have [thankfully] never been as bad as the stories in those blog posts.
But one mistake that I made which I have never been able to live down is when I wrote the MetaEdit 2.x utility for editing the IIS metabase. Every day I was making a huge number of changes to the MetaEdit code, and it was getting hard to keep track of everything that I needed to finish. Of course, there are several ways to track work items, and the preferred method is to keep track of everything in a bug database. But I also like to flag sections of code with comments that say things like "TODO" or "BUGBUG", that makes it easier to do a search on the code before inadvertently checking it with something that needed to be completed.
As the deadline was rapidly approaching for me to check in the final build of MetaEdit for the Windows Server 2000 Resource Kit, I decided to add a dialog box that MetaEdit would display if you were using it with a version of IIS that was later than IIS 5.0, which we were shipping with Windows Server 2000. I wanted to make sure that MetaEdit would warn users that they might have problems using MetaEdit with a later version of IIS since I didn't know how the metabase would work in the future, or if we would deprecate the metabase like we eventually did in Windows Server 2008. I was obviously distracted for some reason and I didn't finish that section of code, but I hadn't added a comment with the text "TODO" or "BUGBUG", so I dutifully checked the code into the Resource Kit database and I didn't think anything about it.
At least I didn't think about it until we released Windows Server 2003.
If you'll recall, IIS 6.0 was shipped with Windows Server 2003, which meant that anyone who wanted to use MetaEdit in order to modify their metabase was rudely greeted with the following nonsensical and ultimately useless dialog box:
Suddenly I was receiving emails from all over the place asking me what the heck that dialog box meant. The text was supposed to have a generic warning about damaging your metabase with some sort of "use-at-your-own-risk" verbiage and a set of Yes/No buttons that would allow you to opt out of opening the application.
My apologies to everyone that ever saw that dialog box. ;-]