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I've had some nasty ones that had error_reporting turned off, then discover there were thousands of warnings and depreciated code that was unknown to anyone because of the fact.

Anyone else have anything like this?

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closed as not constructive by Thomas Owens May 11 '12 at 15:06

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Why did you make it community wiki?! meta.programmers.stackexchange.com/questions/8/… –  TheLQ Sep 20 '10 at 1:52
@TheLQ I assume because it is a very subjective question and there is no one correct answer. –  Foole Sep 20 '10 at 3:45
@Foole: that's not the purpose of community wiki. Please see the FAQ for more information. –  user8 Sep 20 '10 at 4:56
Which guidelines of the big 6 do you think this question apply? Gradually we will close questions that doesn't fit on the 6 Guidelines for Great Subjective Questions. If you think your question doesn't meet enough points it would be a good thing the author of the question initiate the close process. Otherwise community or moderators can take the initiative if they they consider this question inappropriate to this site. Thank you. See more: blog.stackoverflow.com/2010/09/good-subjective-bad-subjective –  bigown Oct 1 '10 at 21:47
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4 Answers

up vote 11 down vote accepted

Many years ago I worked on a project to rewrite and modernize a first generation Windows application. The project was cancelled part way through the rewrite. Then several years later a new business owner wanted to update the same application. Three quarters of the way through a $500k project it was again cancelled. Then several years later another new business owner wanted a new version of the same application. This time the app was fully coded, completed and QA tested and THEN cancelled. The last cancellation was devistating. We were just a week away from deploying it and finally being rid of an old app that requires tons of support.

To this day, the same first generation Windows app is still in production and can only be run in Windows 7 in a Virtual PC running XP.

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+1 Had one of those myself that the "rewrite" kept coming up almost annually and then shelved. The worst cancellation happened when the then-CIO deep-sixed it without telling the CEO and immediately $10 million of development became taxable rather than depreciated over time. That CIO got shuffled around due to contractual legalities but then he quietly disappeared. –  Jesse C. Slicer Sep 21 '10 at 16:04
Wish I had a contract that allowed me to royally screw up and still get lots of money. –  Walter Sep 21 '10 at 18:42
Agreed. Old Windows Applications are a real pain. –  leeand00 Sep 26 '10 at 23:53
I should point out that the project I discuss in my answer is so similar in every respect to this one that for a moment I thought this was my answer. –  Robert Rossney Sep 27 '10 at 19:30
@JohnMacIntyre pretty much the Fortune 500 version of that, to be sure :) –  Jesse C. Slicer May 11 '12 at 16:11
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The worst project I ever worked on was a 19-month-long death march that employed over 50 consultants at a total cost well north of $17 million.

(That's a disputed figure; the consulting organization believes that the total cost was $35 million, but $17 million's what the company I worked for paid them. It will give you an idea how bad the behavior was on both sides of the relationship that despite the fact that we paid them $17 million and got nothing usable, and despite the fact that we stiffed them on $18 million in billings, neither company sued the other.)

There's really no way for me to adequately describe this project in a single post. Here's an anecdote, though, that will give you an idea of the texture of this project.

Eleven months in, it had become clear to me that we didn't have any kind of scope control, and the consultants were responding to the pitching and yawing of my idiot CEO the way the workers do every time Cary Grant changes his mind in Mr. Blandings Builds His Dream Home. So I decreed, having just read Steve McConnell's Software Project Survival Guide in an attempt to understand what was happening, that we needed a change-control board. I made a good enough case for it that even the consultants agreed it was worth doing.

The first meeting of the CCB included, on the consultants' side: the program manager, the overall product manager, the client project managers (each of whom managed the relationship with one of our clients - yes, this really happened), the database administrator, the technical architect - in short, the cost to us for this meeting was about $2000 an hour. Here's the meeting agenda our $350/hour program manager came up with: What should our process be?

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Sounds very similar to one to lived through, but I was on the consultant side. Believe me, as one of the grunts on an upside-down project, life sucked. –  DaveE Feb 10 '11 at 18:45
Oh, I became good friends with a couple of the consulting firm's people who did actual work. Their lives were miserable. The big winners were the owners of the consulting firm. When our project was 4 months old they sold the firm at a right-before-the-web-crash price in the high seven figures to a large conglomerate, getting 50% up front. A year or so later, the large conglomerate looked at the post-web-crash environment and the shambles of our project, and opted not to pay the second 50%, returning the firm to its original owners. That's nice money if you can get it. –  Robert Rossney Feb 10 '11 at 23:19
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Projects where individual goals are too distant from the team or company goal.

Usually happens in large enterprise software development projects.

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I'm currently on it. It's a Java enterprise portal project (mostly in-house) where I have to customize the out-of-the-box version of the open-source portal to meet the whims of all the internal employees that will be forced to use it. My boss seems to think that portals (and portlets) are a cure-all as all future web app development looks to be portlet development.

Nevermind the fact that portlets aren't meant to house full-blown web applications. They are meant as more of a dashboard widget. They should display only the most important at-a-glance type of information and maybe provide a link to the full blown web app that lives outside the portal. That's why they are isolated programmatically from the rest of the portal's capabilities (unless you want to tie the portlet to a specific portal vendor's API). This is just the back end. The front end is just as bad, since you have little to no control over URL structure (as portal pages and portlets can be added, edited, and deleted by the user at anytime) and all portlet javascript function names need to include the portlet's server-generated unique ID (so that if a user puts more than one instance of the portlet on the page, you won't get name collisions). Every company that I've worked at that used portals always tries to cram full web apps in a portlet and it's always a complete mess to develop and maintain.

Since I'm the only one with actual portlet development experience, I also have to train several other co-workers (none of whom know how to develop JSR-168 or JSR-286 portlets, and only one of which actually has Java programming knowledge and experience) to write portlets.

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