There’s really no excuse for this. Facebook is ridiculously complex. It accommodates over a billion users. It can handle an entire app infrastructure, different types of accounts, live updates, videos and integration with half the websites on the internet.
Healthcare.gov, despite the complexity creep, had a fairly straightforward task. There are hundreds of eCommerce sites that handle similar tasks without costing 600 million dollars or requiring 25 times more code than Facebook.
Jason Evans, one of the Facebook engineers who work under Pobar, won’t divulge the size of Facebook’s codebase either, but he says that public statements have revealed the number in the past. At one point, he indicates, the Facebook codebase was pegged at 10 million lines, and later something close to 20 million. The implication is that the codebase has since grown beyond this number.
In January of 2011, in a post to question-and-answer site Quora, Facebook engineer Evan Priestly said that Facebook spanned 9.2 million lines of code — a figure that didn’t include various services used to support the main Facebook application. Jason Evans says that this post was spot on, but then he points out that it happened two years ago — an eternity in the life of Facebook — and he confirms that the figure only applies to a portion of the site as we know it.
Even assuming that Facebook is in the 45 million range, an estimate that the Wired article dismisses, it would still be less than 10 percent the size of Healthcare.gov.
Sure we’ve heard the joke about the elephant being a horse designed by committee and all about the 45 dollar screwdrivers, but who knew that Obama Inc. could blow the Gross Domestic Product of a small country on a website that couldn’t handle a few thousand users while having 10 times more code than a complex adaptable social networking site with a billion users.
But what do you expect from a website for a bill that was too long for anyone to read and whose regulations have passed 11 million words.