Quoting, Raymond Chen

Via The Old New Thing

A colleague told a story of how he once broke the entire Office division’s ability to check in code because he accidentally checked in a syntax error to the script that is used to verify that your proposed change has satisfied all the pre-submit requirements such as passing static analysis and unit testing.

The error was caused by smart quotes being used by mistake instead of straight quotes. He doesn’t know how they snuck in, and the two styles of quotation marks were sufficiently similar that it eluded everyone’s notice.

I’ve never worked at Microsoft and can only guess how they might have snuck in… and my guess is that they came in by copying/pasting code from MSDN Blogs, which for years seemed to auto convert straight quotes to smart quotes and double dashes to em dashes.

In that era, only a few MSDN bloggers were nice enough to wrap their code in <pre> tags, and it’s not clear to me that the CMS even supported syntax highlighting. We’ve got it pretty good today, is what I’m trying to say.

Micah R Ledbetter @micahrl