15000+ Javascript Errors on a Single Page

/ Edit this post

Today, while browsing the web, I landed on an article that raised an eyebrow, actually both eyebrows. Being a developer, I generally aim for achieving the highest performance possible on both the front end and the back end of, in this case, a web application.

Currently, the company I work for doesn't have a large engineering team, in fact, this is the smallest engineering team I've ever worked with, it's only me and a non-coding Product Manager. My colleague and I are responsible for three web properties in our network. This of course can be managed with a small team, provided that the platform(s) are similar in architecture and that the business and all stakeholders allow our team to work in iterations or weekly sprints. Software development is incredibly difficult without proper process. We've been pretty good at adhering this process across the company.

The properties we work on directly reach approximately four million visits each month. Of course, this is nothing compared to the amount of traffic that Forbes receives. With that being said, I find it difficult to swallow that companies like Conde Nast, Forbes, Vox, etc have so many issues with their sites from performance, usability, and overall quality assurance. Perhaps there are too many moving parts, but after seeing today's discovery, it's mind blowing how this happens in a production environment. outputting over 15000+ JS errors:

As you can see from the video above, the errors are spinning out of control and they're incrementing by ~100 every second. Now, I haven't looked into the cost of this issue but regardless of what is happening, this isn't a pleasurable experience for me, the user.

After a quick comparison of major properties such as Google, Amazon, Yahoo, etc I found that none of them had a single JS error. Yahoo did have a few console warnings, but again, no red errors on any of these properties.

Perhaps the root cause of the issue I discovered this morning lies in the hands of publishers and advertisers. They're constantly making the attempt at tracking a user's behavior. If that's the case, you'd think that the company I work for would have a 15000+ JS errors on the site since we're often all running the same advertisements at any given time.

Wait, I just checked our biggest property and noticed that we don't have a single JS error or warning in the console. We're running ads, we're using DFP, we're allowing 3rd party ads to run.

This post isn't intended to bad-mouth Forbes or their respected team of developers. It's merely a post to help me and other developers better understand why these types of errors appear in production environments and hopefully help us understand the cost of allowing this to continue.