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Government Programming The Internet Technology

No, HealthCare.gov Doesn't Require 500 Million Lines of Code 142

Posted by Soulskill
from the but-somebody-on-the-teevee-said-so dept.
itwbennett writes: "Half a billion lines of code for a transactional website — more than five times as much code as that behind OS X — just didn't pass the sniff test. But just how many lines of code does it take to generate HealthCare.gov? This question came up on Reddit again last week and it appears that we may now have an answer. One commenter who claimed to have worked on HealthCare.gov as part of the post launch clean-up crew at the end of 2013, provided counts of the lines of code behind HealthCare.gov, broken down by programming/markup language."
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No, HealthCare.gov Doesn't Require 500 Million Lines of Code

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  • by angularbanjo (1521611) on Wednesday May 28, 2014 @04:15PM (#47112545) Homepage
    That much Perl?
    That's probably the whole app there, with each line being around 10,000 characters of obfuscated self-referencing goodness.

    The rest is just quotes from Tolkien.
  • by Whatsmynickname (557867) on Wednesday May 28, 2014 @04:15PM (#47112547)

    Has this been verified? Is this poster even supposed to be posting data like this? Main news channels now repeat blogs true or not as facts, et tu Slashdot

    • by neokushan (932374) on Wednesday May 28, 2014 @04:25PM (#47112717)

      In fairness, it's no more unreliable than the 500million+ lines of code, claim. And somehow much more believable.

    • by Ksevio (865461) on Wednesday May 28, 2014 @04:28PM (#47112755) Homepage
      Of course not! We're trusting blogs that cite reddit comments. Since the comment got "Reddit gold" it must be trustworthy.
    • by Anonymous Coward

      I can confirm Alex was one of about 6 good CGIFederal coders on the hc.gov effort, and generally a good guy. He was working on SHOP (the small business market) before it got cancelled and him redirected to bug fixes. I haven't counted the lines of code on the sustenance7.0 branch, but it's probably in the ballpark. Posted AC for obvious reasons.

  • by Anonymous Coward

    the parts where the "programmers" and "designers" were learning basic javascript functions and had code copied from w3schools? How were the hundreds of "TODO" lines counted? I'm sure its better now, but damn was it a disaster to look at the page source in Oct.

  • by Anonymous Coward

    It was a number some talking head pulled out of their butt to whine about bloated government project X to the ignorant public.

  • by Tailhook (98486) on Wednesday May 28, 2014 @04:20PM (#47112639)

    Hmm.

    Could we, perhaps, use some of the techniques that people have speculated about for deflecting space rocks and, instead, guide one into Earth deliberately?

  • by Anonymous Coward

    Me and my 120 developer colleagues are able to make software for 40 hospitals, covering about every bit of information you can imagine, in less than 10 MLocs (I counted 4.7 real code MLocs four years ago, might be 10+ now because of migration to other language/environment and new features). 500M for a website isn't possible. Period.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday May 28, 2014 @04:36PM (#47112865)

    Language files blank comment code
    Java 13481 419643 847982 2399683
    HTML 1635 50124 16845 515494
    Javascript 1631 56298 102140 322192
    XSD 5227 1238 20945 156696
    XML 659 6436 13073 136827
    CSS 205 14000 9420 109815
    Maven 275 737 1421 47449
    XSLT 383 2357 1476 21624
    Bourne Shell 248 2305 1446 8830
    SQL 28 860 139 8487
    JavaServer Faces 35 766 0 3770
    DOS Batch 48 235 118 849
    Ant 8 77 45 810
    Perl 18 161 45 646
    Visualforce Component 39 0 0 626
    Groovy 4 68 15 361
    Python 5 55 90 263
    Visual Basic 1 3 0 25
    DTD 1 8 0 17
    JSP 3 0 0 13
    ASP.Net 1 0 0 11
    SUM 23935 555371 1015200 3734488

    Holy Christopher Columbus! Was it bring your favourite programming language to work month?

    • at least there was no COBOL.

      because COBOL is the devil and it raises taxes

    • by PPH (736903)

      I didn't see Brainfuck. Or Malbolge.

    • by Zordak (123132)

      Holy Christopher Columbus! Was it bring your favourite programming language to work month?

      Don't worry. The Obama administration has issued an executive order instructing the new vendor to port the system entirely to INTERCAL.

    • by eulernet (1132389)

      Was it bring your favourite programming language to work month?

      SUM

    • by cdrudge (68377)

      Was it bring your favourite programming language to work month?

      No. HTML, XSD, XML, CSS, and DTD aren't even programming languages. JavaScript, while a language, I'll lump in with the HTML as it's probably not running server side and pretty much is the only option for client side scripting.

      Java dominates the line count for what's left. Maven is primarily for build automation for Java so it's more of a compliment to Java than another language just because they can. Similar goes for Groovy and JavaServer Faces

    • Holy Christopher Columbus! Was it bring your favourite programming language to work month?

      Seriously, this is a clear indication to me that this thing probably had all the halmarks of bad projects:

      1. Design by committee - definitely little thought given to KISS. No unifying approach/structure.
      1. No central control of the implementation standards.
      1. No thought of manageability/longevity/lifecycle of the code base - expediency at the expense of resiliency.

      Managing that brittle monstrosity is going to be painful over

  • by h8sg8s (559966)

    Approaching $325 per line of code. Great work if you can get it. Wonder what it would have looked like had it been outsourced to some high-volume web service like Google or FB?

  • by sbrown123 (229895) on Wednesday May 28, 2014 @04:45PM (#47112975) Homepage

    Seriously. This account was created just to post some numbers and we are suppose to take them as fact? Hell, I could create an account on Reddit and come up with a totally different set of numbers and you can take my comment as fact too.

    • Because it looks right and the only other possible estimate we have (500 million) is clearly ridiculous BS an idiot made up as a sound-byte.

      As an engineer that's probably not enough certainty for you to believe it, but public policy isn't engineering. Most decisions have to be based on incomplete information, (generally half-remembered overheard BS), so you kinda have to go with the Least Stupid Guess option.

      • Public policy is social engineering. Yes, I mean that in the Mitnick sense.

        No, not in the 'Mitnick sense' of a 2600 subscriber. I meant as in 'fucking crooks.'

        • To an extent that's true.

          But even no public policy is de facto a public policy that the last set of crooks should keep all their ill-gotten gains, and if they did their crookedness right they will also have the opportunity to increase their gains.

          The problem analytic folks have is that the worlds problems are generally people. And those people aren't gonna look at your beautifully-crafted piece of logic proving their Social Security needs to be cut and say "Well that makes sense, I guess I won't be taking m

    • by glwtta (532858)
      No one expects you to take anything as fact.

      Those numbers do, on the other hand, sound plausible for a project of that type and size. Including the breakdown between different languages.

      Whereas the 500m number is absurd on its face. You're not expected to take away more than that.
  • by Impy the Impiuos Imp (442658) on Wednesday May 28, 2014 @05:26PM (#47113381) Journal

    I don't see how they could have reported 500 million lines of code in the first place. The Congressional authorization to spend $30 million to study the best way to count lines isn't even out of the House committee yet.

  • by hondo77 (324058) on Wednesday May 28, 2014 @05:41PM (#47113519) Homepage
    To be fair, most of that is probably getters and setters.
    • by Anonymous Coward

      That and error handling, because, you know, Java is so amazing at avoiding catastrophes.

  • The ITWorld article also claims that OS X Tiger had 86 million lines of code (they are referencing to an Engadget article [engadget.com]). However, that's hard to believe. Has that number actually been 8.6 million, for example?
  • Is Accenture still in the running to redo the web site? I am curious to see how they do with it, given the way they handled London Stock Exchange revamp a while ago.

  • So 18 perl scripts to run the entire site. Sounds about right. What's the rest of that code for?

  • Java 13481 419643 847982 2399683

    SQL 28 860 139 8487

    Trying to build a big web site like that with Hibernate. They had no chance.

  • by Required Snark (1702878) on Thursday May 29, 2014 @03:44AM (#47117233)
    Comparing a web site to an OS is crazy. Why is anyone taking this seriously?

    At a minimum, you would need to compare HealthCare.gov to another web site that had similar requirements. It would have to be nationwide and be HIPPA compliant. For example, AMAZON or EBAY would not count, because they don't have any of the legal requirements that a heath provider has.

    It is obvious that this bogus number is just another politically motivated smear against the ACA (Obamacare). Everyone here is quibbling about LOC, while the real issue is that people are engaged in propaganda and wild lies because they oppose a government program.

    Something must be wrong with me. I keep making the mistake that those who post on Slashdot are somehow more intelligent then the average population. When you fixate on minute technical details rather then the larger issues you are not smart, you are dumb.

  • I strongly suspect that the "500 million lines of code" was someone working backwards from the cost. They looked at the reported dollar amount and went "ye gods! if we admit we paid that much for 20K lines of code we'll never hold office again."

  • Every time I see another (or repeated...) article about healthcare.gov, I'm reminded that a common final assignment for a second year Active Server Pages class is to code a website to offer a list of services for sale.

    "If it were easy, everyone would be doing it". Oh, wait... everyone is.

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