CodeSOD: Supporting Standards

Starting in the late 2000s, smartphones and tablets took off, and for a lot of people, they constituted a full replacement for a computer. By the time the iPad and Microsoft Surface took off, every pointy-haired-boss wanted to bring a tablet into their meetings, and do as much work as possible on that tablet.

Well, nearly every PHB. Lutz worked for a company where management was absolutely convinced that tablets, smartphones, and frankly, anything smaller than the cheapest Dell laptop with the chunkiest plastic case was nothing more than a toy. It was part of the entire management culture, led by the CEO, Barry. When one of Lutz's co-workers was careless enough to mention in passing an article they'd read on mobile-first development, Barry scowled and said "We are a professional software company that develops professional business software."

Back in the mid 2010s, their customers started asking, "We love your application, but we'd love to be able to access it from our mobile devices," Barry's reply was: "We should support standards. The standard is Microsoft Windows."

"Oh, but we already access your application on our mobile devices," one of the customers pointed out. "We just have to use the desktop version of the page, which isn't great on a small screen."

Barry was livid. He couldn't take it out on his customers, not as much as he wanted to, but he could "fix" this. So he went to one of his professional software developers, at his professional software company, and asked them to professionally add the following check to their professional business software:

Public Sub OnActionExecuting(filterContext As ActionExecutingContext) Implements IActionFilter.OnActionExecuting Dim userAgent As String = filterContext.HttpContext.Request.UserAgent If Not userAgent.Contains("Windows NT") OrElse userAgent.Contains("; ARM;") Then filterContext.Result = New ContentResult With {.Content = "Your operating system is not supported. Please use Microsoft Windows."} End If End Sub

Filtering users based on User-Agent strings is a bad idea in general, requiring it to contain "Windows NT" is foolish, but banning UA-strings which contain "ARM" is pure spite. It was added specifically to block, at the time, Windows RT- the version of Windows built for the Surface tablet.

There's no word from Lutz about which lasted longer: this ill-conceived restriction or the company itself.

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This post originally appeared on The Daily WTF.

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