Breaking software on purpose is evil

Just this week I was making a portal of commonly used links for teachers and administrators. The portal area was a different platform than the one being linked to. To be exact, I was using a Moodle to link to PowerSchool. One of the brilliant things about the web is that a URL address gives very specific instructions to the server in order to do all the things necessary for someone to access that area that’s being requested. So making this portal work is trivial.

A lot of the times the URL looks all complicated with lots of numbers, question mark characters and ampersands. If the software is really good, the URL will be human readable, so if you were looking up student information the URL might be Not so great software would do it something like

Anyway, the website is supposed to take that URL, log the user in if necessary, and then get the user to that page. Even if you’re not logged in. First it lets you log in, and then off you go to the right place. Just like it should work.

Today I came across a business-owned website that doesn’t do that. If the user has to log in first, the website does not direct them to the originally requested page. I mean, what the heck is going on with that. This is not at all hard to implement. There are session cookies and request objects flying around, and all you need to do is store the original request into some variable that’s stored in one of those things, and then redirect. We’re talking about one if statement and a command.


The only reason why a website wouldn’t do it that way is if the geeks broke it on purpose. You know, just not include that obvious and painless if statement. Create pain by not including it, but hey, there’s a business advantage to it. Which is why I don’t think it was geeks who decided not to, it was some businessman, who told the geeks: Hey, if you break that feature, then that means we can get more marketshare.

You see, by breaking this automatic redirect, they guarantee that it will be very painful for someone to do what I was just doing: Making a portal using some other tool. They want me to use their own website to make the portal. In other words, and let me spell this out to you: They want to control the decision making at my organization with their software.

This stuff really grinds my gears.

If this website were an open source project, I could just put in the freaking if statement myself. But no, they put a blackbox on that.

Gears definitely ground.

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