Google fixes an unusual bug on Google Docs

Google just announced that it fixed an obscure bug that caused Google Docs to crash when users typed a single, repeated word. This bug puzzled software developers and gave rise to all the speculation from the Hacker News developer community. The Google Docs crash seemed to be caused by repeatedly typing “And. And. And. And.”, etc. in a document, which had a knack for crashing the Google application.

As Docs user Pat Needham reported this week on Google’s support pages, had him type “And. on a Docs page in Chrome would simply crash Google Docs.

This discovery inspired a bug bounty campaign to find other words whose same pattern was triggering the app to crash. That is, by typing a trigger word five times, each word being followed by a period and a space. Users reported finding other words that may cause Docs to crash, including “Consequently”, “Anyway”, “But”, “Who”, “Why”, “Apartment”, “However”, ” Dearness”, “Although”, “Besides” and “Besides”.

Google reclaims

A Hacker News user decided to automate the search for these words. “I started going through the whole dictionary in batches of 500 words to see if each batch of 500 triggered the behavior, then I did a binary search through the batch to find the problem word(s). I found that ‘Firstly’, ‘Secondly’, ‘Thirdly’, and ‘Fourthly’ trigger the bug, but ‘Fifthly’ and above do not,” writes JoshuaDavid.

Still, the flaw was quickly corrected by Google, because ZDNet was unable to reproduce the crash. About two hours after the issue was reported, Google informed users on its support page that it was investigating the issue.

“Dear Google Docs users, we are aware of the issue and are currently working to resolve it. Thank you for bringing this issue to the surface and sharing it with us. We will keep you posted ! “, could we read.


Leave a Comment