otsukare Thoughts after a day of work

The lucky day of me falling hard professionally

Let me tell you a story…

Pawn of lucky cat (manekineko) in the air with my reflection in the window

In my first professional year (~1995/1996) as a ~~web developer~~, well webmaster at that time, I was working on the BNP website. Yes, the BNP French bank website, except at that time it was only a couple of hundreds static web pages (maybe around 300).

The client asked us to fix the footer on all these html files. The job was assigned to me.

I opened the local website FTP folder with all the files in it. I started to look at the HTML and noticed a simple search and replace would not do it.

Let's use Regex for parsing/fixing HTML. Haha.

Very proud of my regex, I executed it on all files. Sure I had done a good job! I dropped the folder in the FTP application and all files on the live site were replaced.


I had made a mistake in my regex. I replaced every characters in the HTML by character + space. The site was now displaying the raw ascii characters.

< H T M L >
< H E A D >
< T I T L E > B N P < / T I T L E >

and so on. The roughly 300 files. I had no backup. Cold sweat.

We were around 6 or 7 people working in this Web agency as webmasters. I asked everyone

  1. to stop everything they were doing.
  2. to not visit the BNP website.
  3. to save locally every cached files in their browser history and/or their local backup if they had and send them to me.

On a couple of hours we have been able to recreate the site and with a bit of manual work too.

That was one of my most formative mistakes at the beginning of the Web.

  1. Work on a backup.
  2. Do not synchronize before checking locally.
  3. Install a local web server on your computer.
  4. Browser caching is cool!
  5. Teams are awesome. You are not alone. You can reach out for help.
  6. Create a better team process for working on sites.
  7. Do not use Regex for parsing HTML

Mistakes will happen. Learn from them.