Lessons from Our Developers: Avoiding Costly Mistakes

Learn from the experiences of our development team as they share essential insights for steering clear of costly tech mishaps.

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Foundry Staff

When Tech Mishaps Unravel

Mistakes are an integral part of any developer's journey. We all have our fair share of horror stories when we accidentally nuked something important, leaving us to scramble for solutions. In this blog post, we'll share some lessons learned from experiences at Foundry, highlighting common pitfalls and offering insights on how to avoid or fix them.

Lesson 1: The Data Disaster

One common and potentially catastrophic mistake in software development is accidentally deleting crucial data, which can lead to hours of downtime and data loss. A developer on our team has shared that they have nuked production more times than they can count, forcing them to perform a delicate dance to restore order. It doesn't have to be that way though!

How to Avoid It:

  • Implement strict access controls: Limit access to production databases to only those who need it.
  • Perform regular backups: Always keep up-to-date backups, and test their restoration process.
  • Double-check commands: Before executing any destructive commands, verify the target and the scope of the operation.
  • Use version control: Ensure that critical data is stored in version-controlled repositories where accidental deletion can be undone.

Lesson 2: Git Gaffes

Version control systems like Git are powerful tools, but they can also be double-edged swords, as one of our developers learned early in their career. The specific concern is when and how to use git push --force, especially after pushing changes to remote branches. To navigate Git safely:

How to Avoid It:

  • Plan your Git workflow: Determine a branching and merging strategy that fits your project. Squash merging can help maintain a cleaner commit history.
  • Communication is key: If you're working on a shared branch or repository, communicate changes with your team to avoid conflicts.
  • Use --force-with-lease: When you need to push changes to a remote branch, this option is safer as it prevents overwriting someone else's work.
  • Think before forcing: Only use --force when it's absolutely necessary, such as removing sensitive data from the repository.

Lesson 3: Commit Cleanup

Another developer shared a fascinating story of dealing with a repository containing an excessive number of commits, highlighting the importance of maintaining a clean commit history. Excessive commits can make tracking changes challenging and lead to unnecessary confusion. Here's how to keep your commit history in check:

How to Avoid It:

  • Commit thoughtfully: Make each commit focused on a single, logical change.
  • Use interactive rebasing: Before pushing changes, review and squash related commits to keep the history concise.
  • Communicate with your team: Ensure everyone is on the same page regarding the project's commit conventions and expectations.
  • Regular maintenance: Periodically clean up your repository by removing unnecessary branches and commits that no longer serve a purpose.


Mistakes in software development are inevitable, but they are also valuable learning opportunities. By sharing these experiences and the lessons learned, we hope to help fellow developers avoid common pitfalls. Whether it's safeguarding against data disasters, using Git effectively, or maintaining a clean commit history, these lessons can contribute to smoother and more efficient development processes. Remember, the key to success in software development is not just avoiding mistakes but learning from them and continuously improving.

This content was created with the assistance of a large language model. Specifically, it is based on the transcript of an actual Slack discussion among the engineering team about their biggest blunders. The generated content has been independently verified and heavily edited for accuracy and clarity.