Breaking Changes Should Break HARD!

  • Oh, wow!

    The purveyors of my favourite accounting software have really outdone themselves this time.

    Important context

    It's the last week of April and that means a veritable shitstorm at my nine-to-five. The reason: April 30th is the PIT return filing deadline for 2015. Naturally, some folks are still brigning us data and documents we need to do their taxes.

    (Mercifully, since the 30th isn't a working day, the deadline is actually extended to May 2nd; however, the 3rd is a national holiday round these parts, so everyone would love to get their shit done by Friday and take Monday off for a four-day weekend.)

    Updates, updates

    Yesterday, an update to our accounting software was published. It is a fairly minor affair: the template for the simplified accounting records (as used by businesses small enough to avoid the general ledger requirement - i.e. most of our clients) has been changed by the Ministry of Finance, adding a new column - R&D costs - and the update provides this. No biggie. Doesn't affect last year's taxes, right?

    Breaking change

    So, round the middle of the day I get an error call. One of the accountants is unable to correct an entry in last years' records. What error message do I see when I get there?

    R&D costs column does not contain a value.

    Of course it doesn't. There wasn't even an R&D column last year. Hell, your own edit dialog doesn't contain the requisite field (as it shouldn't). Nevertheless, the edits cannot be saved because a non-nullable field is null - despite the fact that it has no business having any other value.

    So, yeah. When implementing the change, the developers had a choice of making the field nullable or setting a default value of zero (the second option isn't strictly true, but its effect on the financial result is neutral). Which option did they pick? "None of the above."

    Apparently, didn't bother to test their change either.

    Breaks hard

    Of course, if there's any time when the ability to make corrections to previous years' records is imperative, it is now. It is literally the last call to ensure everything is correct before filing tax returns. The latest breaking change has made it impossible.

    Luckily for me, the C-suite is handling this one. From what I hear, the software company is scrambling to come up with a hotfix - which ain't surprising, given that we are hardly the sole customer who now has that problem.

    Wonder if I'll find an update waiting tomorrow...

  • @GOG What about just rolling back the update? At least until after tax season...

  • @dcon I've proposed this very solution, first thing.

    Problem is, some folks have this issue, others don't. Each client has a separate database that handles both accounting and HR (handled by separate folks a lot of the time). An updated database won't work with unupdated software and vice versa, meaning we roll everything back or we get version conflicts. Rolling back means we lose all current data, because the only way to do it is to restore DB backups. Not enough time, too many elephants.

    Seriously, though, it's possible that we will roll back for at least some clients. It is going to come down to whether it will take more time to roll back or to fudge it and correct it after the hotfix comes out.

  • @GOG said in Breaking Changes Should Break HARD!:

    Wonder if I'll find an update waiting tomorrow...

    Turns out they managed to push the hotfix yesterday, after I'd knocked off. You gotta admire the turnaround time...

  • @GOG said in Breaking Changes Should Break HARD!:

    April 30th is the PIT return filing deadline for 2015.

    Fuck, forgot about that. Thanks for reminder!

  • @Gąska You're welcome.

  • @GOG any suggestions for 1%? Usually I picked Wikipedia, but they did something godawful last year (I don't remember what exactly) which made me hate them. What cool organization would you suggest? Preferably not animal- or children-related.

  • @Gąska Dunno. My 1% goes to the Government, 'coz I don't see anyone I'd like to donate to.

    (Admittedly, this year giving it to the Gov didn't look too appealing either, but the way I figure, it just might go towards the paycheck of some tax inspector who'll be a bit less peeved when he comes to audit.)

    As for what our clients come with, it's pretty much sick children all the way - so I guess that ain't helping much.

    There's a complete list of qualified entities here:,organizacji,pozytku,publicznego,uprawnionych,do,1,w,2015,r.,3649.html

    Have a browse and see if there's anyone you like/don't hate.

  • @GOG said in Breaking Changes Should Break HARD!:

    Admittedly, this year giving it to the Gov didn't look too appealing either

    >implying it ever does

    Anyway, I went with this thing. Better than nothing.

    Also, I'm very glad that for once, the government made a web service that actually works.

  • @Gąska Nice choice.

    @Gąska said in Breaking Changes Should Break HARD!:

    @GOG said in Breaking Changes Should Break HARD!:

    Admittedly, this year giving it to the Gov didn't look too appealing either

    implying it ever does

    Let's just say that my line of work makes me a lot more sympathetic to the idea of keeping Government sufficiently well-funded to do its job. You wouldn't believe the kind of bullshit I see people trying to pull on a pretty much everyday basis. (Actually, you probably would.)

    I only wish that I could trust the folks in charge to not break anything too badly. To date, this was mostly a reasonable expectation. Presently, not so much.

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