This is all too common. You’ve developed some minor tool to meet a specific purpose, whether it’s a batch file, JavaScript, Visual Basic macro, whatever.

You know other people around the office will use your tool, but it’s not worth the investment in handling real error cases or writing proper documentation. Instead, you just throw in a message saying “If you see this message, talk to Jim!” , safe in the knowledge that all of the users are less than 20 metres from where you work.

Please, resist the temptation. These tools will often, completely by accident, end up with a lifespan that exceeds your term of employment! Two years later, this message pops up and confuses the hell out of the user.

A similar thing happened to a colleague of mine. A spreadsheet that ran a simple virtual-rugby sweep for his workplace, allowing users to enter their predictions and email them away. If a user tried to trigger the code to calculate the winner, they got a helpful dialog box: “Sorry, you’re not Jade Baxter! Nice Try”. Needless to say, after he left, virtual-rugby remained popular, and because he transferred to a different part of a large organisation, it caught up with him.

Now, we all use it around the office whenever any function or data is withheld from any person, for any reason, at any time. Sorry: you’re not Jade Baxter!