Projects at a marketing agency always involve technology. But you’d be surprised at just how deep it can go. Here is a recent example of just how technical it can get.

The AOC Effect

The Project We created a website to intake photo submissions for a virtual commencement. For security, when a student would type their name, an autofill will narrow down the student list until they found their name. We also provided them with the last 4 digits of their student ID.

We then asked them to verify their full student ID, which we had on file. If there was a match, they were allowed to proceed and upload their photo.

The Technical Suprise It turns out, that 1) If you pass a string from PHP to Javascript, and 2) it contains only numbers, and 3) the numerical string starts with leading zeros, and 4) none of the individual digits are above 7, the student ID is interpreted as an “octal value” — which basically converts it to a different number. All of our marketing and technical training could not have prepared us for this.

We dubbed this the AOC effect. Automatic Octal Conversion.

The Solution It was not clear to us how to prevent this at first, but we found by using json encoding when passing the value, javascript did not convert the student ID to an octal value. Another technical bug squashed.