Facebook fixes long-standing iOS bug, eliminating 50 percent of app crashes

Car-Crashes

It’s hard to know what to make of an app update that promises to “cut crash rates in half.” If you’re a glass-half-full kind of guy, you’re happy with the increased stability. If you’re a glass-half-empty guy, though, you wonder why the hell they can’t get around to fixing the other 50 percent of unexpected software crashes.

I’m sort of a glass-half-empty kind of guy, at least when it comes to Facebook. So when they announce that their latest update to the Facebook for iPhone and iPad app has “solved a long-term mobile debugging problem and reduced the crash rate for people using the Facebook for iOS app by more than 50%,” I wonder why the hell a multibillion dollar corporation can’t fix the other half.

Still, even I’ll admit that 50 percent less crashes is better than 50 percent more crashes. According to Facebook, the vast majority of crashes over time were attributable to a file-corruption error in the iOS Core Data System that took them months to figure out.

Facebook says it took them so long to find because of how big the Facebook codebase is:

Dealing with a large, rapidly evolving codebase can seem overwhelming at times. Everyday tasks like analyzing crashes and understanding code can turn into their own programming challenges. At these moments, it’s important to work together, brainstorm, and rely on computer programming fundamentals.

Maybe this is why Facebook is splitting out its core functionalities into separate apps: The official app has gotten too bloated to maintain properly.

  • bynary

    I can’t tell if you’re trolling or if you’re intentionally ignorant of how software maintenance goes. I’ll bite anyway for the sake of discussion.

    Software/bug fixes are a moving target. I’m pretty certain Facebook’s engineers aren’t sitting around saying, “Well, we found all the bugs. Let’s fix half of them today and leave the other half alone.” It’s akin to training for long-distance running. If you start out with a ten minute mile, it’s relatively easy to bring that down to five minutes. Getting to a two and a half minute mile will probably take double the amount of energy (and may not even be possible depending on your physical and mental limits). No matter how hard you train, though, you’ll never get a zero minute mile. No matter how much money and people you have working on the project, you’ll never get to zero bugs.

    A fifty percent reduction in bugs in any application is a HUGE accomplishment and Facebook should be applauded for it.

  • lowtolerance

    Any sufficiently large code base is going to have bugs. Facebook is hardly alone in this. It’s inevitable, and no amount of throwing money at the problem is going to just fix that.

    Please keep your editorializing to a minimum on topics which you clearly don’t understand.

  • http://whiplashdesign.com Christan_Messer

    Have either of you used the Facebook iOS app? Just today it crashed on my iPad twice – and does it consistently – so yes, this is a BIG deal – Twitter iOS doesn’t crash, Flipboard doesn’t – sure, whining about the other 50% is probably pointless, but the frustration is still warranted

    • lowtolerance

      No one is arguing that bugs shouldn’t be fixed. The argument is that it’s impossible to ensure that all bugs are removed from software, no matter how much money you spend on the problem.

  • calmasacow

    now if the notification emails would open in the app instead of in safari we would be golden!

About the author

John BrownleeJohn Brownlee is a Contributing Editor. He has also written for Wired, Playboy, Boing Boing, Popular Mechanics, VentureBeat, and Gizmodo. He lives in Boston with his wife and two parakeets. You can follow him here on Twitter.

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