Google Docs Crashed When Fed From “And. And. And. And. And.” • The Registry

Google Docs, the search giant’s web-based word processing app, has been resurrected after it was found choked with a series of conjunctions and other parts of speech.

Web developer Pat Needham noticed that typing “And. And. And. And. And. in Google Docs, capitalized like this but without the quotes, was causing the app to crash. This would happen after typing the text and refreshing the page.

“It’s case sensitive,” Needham wrote in a post to Google Support. “So try with ‘and. and. And. and. and. And.’ don’t crash it. »

Needham said he tried to replicate the crash in three different Google accounts and got the same results.

“When filtering the Chrome Developer Tools network tab with the text ‘error’, we can see a POST request being sent to the URL starting with the payload says it’s “caused by: TypeError: Cannot read properties of null (reading ‘C’),” he wrote.

Needham in a new hacker post credits colleague’s friend Eliza Callahan with discovering the virus which was “triggered by a poem in the middle of her novel”.

Google staff acknowledged the issue within 45 minutes and said a fix was being rolled out.

Shortly after, another Docs user posted to the thread reproduced the crash in Firefox 99.01. And another Docs user caused a crash using “But. But. But. But. But. with the same version of Mozilla.

After Needham revealed the issue to Google Support, reports surfaced on Hacker News that other parts of speech — adverbs and capitalized pronouns — might be taking down Google Docs.

The words “Also, So, And, Anyway, But, Who, Why, Besides, and However” allegedly had the same effect if typed with an initial capital letter, in a series.

“Although, moreover, and furthermore,” also, as well as, “First, second, third, and fourth.” Not “Fifth” or beyond, though.

Those looking into the issue believe the bug is related to Google’s grammar suggestions, as the crash only occurs, it is claimed, when “Show grammar suggestions” has been checked (Tools -> Spelling and Grammar -> Show grammar suggestions).

The register asked Google if anyone was willing to explain the cause of what appears to be a JavaScript error, and we got no response. A theory offered among those commenting on the question is that the bug could be caused by a regular expression, or regex, that went wrong as a result of a catastrophic rollback.

Anyway, Docs has been revived and is obviously no worse for wear. On Friday, Google Support updated their post: “We fixed an issue in Docs related to repetitive use of the word ‘and’. This fix should be in place for all customers soon. » ®

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