Dev’s code manages to overthrow Microsoft’s mighty SharePoint • The Register

On Call Sometimes you take the call. Sometimes you place it. Welcome to an On Call where our reader is on the other side of the phone.

Today’s story comes from “Mark” (not his name) and is about the time he was accused of developing a document management application for the university department where he worked. The plan was that virtually all documents would eventually fall under its mandate, and the powers that be had decided that a new-fashioned tool called “SharePoint” would do the job.

For the uninitiated, SharePoint first appeared in 2001 and has since proven popular with organizations seeking a document management platform. It is highly adaptable and has been bent in all possible forms to meet the needs of companies over the years. But the product was still in its infancy at the time of Mark’s narrative, and he surrounded himself with instructions on how to use the thing.

“I spent a lot of time reading manuals (RTFM),” he told us, “as these were the old days before everything was online.

“In SharePoint [back then] you typed in line mode inside the application and called one function at a time. When you started using a feature, a dialog appeared with the various options for that feature. You could go down into a very deep rabbit hole. “

It was wildly fun. Mark plunged deeper and deeper into the rabbit hole, and his application got bigger and bigger, right until it stopped working. Mark could not figure out what was wrong – the mistake did not make sense. Until then, everything had been fine.

In those days, people tended to rely on support contracts. And so it was, despite his position as a low-key programmer, Mark found himself on the phone to one of Microsoft’s SharePoint geniuses.

Maybe he could try to condense his code a bit? Call for fewer functions per. subroutine?

Of course Mark did. The code was rewritten. It still fell over.

Another call was made and several Microsoft engineers came on the line with more suggestions. It went on and on until finally, according to Mark, “the engineers finally admitted that SharePoint had a code limit and I had hit it!”

“I thought this was world-class software?” he added. “Fool me.”

Armed with the new information, Mark tried again. His final paraphrase was three lines from the border and, most importantly, he did not fall into a pile.

A decade later, and “the program is still running,” he said.

Have you ever had to pick up the phone and call for help only to find that the solution to your problem was a bit undocumented? Or were you the person at the other end of the line who was going to reveal your secrets to the unworthy? Tell everyone by email to On Call. ®

Leave a Comment