The last person with this bug gave up & reimplemented Apple’s page effects.

Apple’s bug, or mine (Sprite bites)?

Programming and debugging life — what a really hard bug looks like being found & fixed. A tale for startup founders, developers and the curious.

Andy Dent
Published in
6 min readSep 27, 2021


This is what despair looks like.

Bug report lodged that changing text causes a page to draw as all black after page change
A bug first spotted when a sample edited casually and then played

This is a tale for programmers or anyone interested in what it’s like for us debugging things. If you’re in a relationship with a developer and wonder why sometimes they can be incredibly wrong about how long things take, this may help you understand.

Casually noticing a bug — you start by recording just the circumstances and actions you recall of how you noticed it. The things I was certain of were that I started with a sample (from our Favorites list of in-built Touchgrams) and that the problem occurred after I’d edited the text on the first page.

Notice that I reported the playback screen as being all black on the 2nd page.

Bug report edited to say it may be due to starting with sample, added more steps to reproduce
Trying to reproduce

This testing log shows a bit more progress on reproducing. The without full preview refers to the behaviour of the Text Editor page — it shows the font and sizes you picked as either a simple sample, of just the font in that style, or in full preview mode where it appears against the background. I’ve also improved my understanding — the original all black page is now clearly background remains unchanged. Testing with different samples proved that the initial test was all black just because the first page had a solid black gackground. Other tests that start with a picture background kept the picture visible.

Several days of chasing down blind alleys later…

Series of comments on bug report explaining that problem is reproduced by having a preview SKView shown in an editor is what causes subsequent problems.
Debugging is about letting go of theory, just observe and simplify

I am now waiting for a burst of personal inspiration, or a very kind and wise soul to answer this heartfelt plea on StackOverflow.



Andy Dent

Touchgram interactive messaging CEO/Founder looking for art, sound & advertising partners. Martial artist. Parent of adults. Coder & designer 30+yrs. Australian