Rube Goldberg would be proud

Watch your step

If you’re of a sensitive disposition, cover your ears now: the Daily WTF, as the name hints, provides a daily sampling of programming hell. Coders who’ve fallen foul of their peers’ mind-numbing algorithms post their experiences on the Daily WTF, for the collective horror of its readers.

For example (one of my favorites), The Brillant (sic) Paula Bean: A company building an enterprise shipping/warehousing system didn’t have the in-house resources required. So they brought in some contractors, including an “experienced Java programmer” called Paula.

As the deadline loomed closer, Paula reported that she was running into difficulties. The team that looked at her code had something of a “WTF moment”: here’s all of the code that Paula had written for the application:

package test;

public class paulaBean {

private String paula = "Brillant";

public String getPaula() {
return paula;

(Actually, as some people on the site’s forum also pointed out, the “real” shocker here was that after several months, no one had noticed that this was all Paula had managed to produce).

By the way, the Rube Goldberg reference came from this scary tale of over-engineering with duct-tape.

About the Author

Matt Stephens is a senior architect, programmer and project leader based in Central London. He co-wrote Agile Development with ICONIX Process, Extreme Programming Refactored, and Use Case Driven Object Modeling with UML - Theory and Practice.