The Foobar challenge: Google's secret test for developers

Original author: Daniel Simmons
  • Transfer

You just sit at your desk, doing your own thing, trying to do some work. Then, as it inevitably happens, you encounter a minor obstacle: your code gives a mysterious error message.

"No problem," as you think. This is not your first rodeo. Thus, you copy and paste literally an error message in Google and see what you get.


There are many search results, but none of them fit your situation close enough to really give a useful answer.

And here begins the creative process of searching in Google. You try several error combinations + context in which you use it. You are trying to specify the name of the library you are using. You know you're getting closer ...

EDISON Software - web-development
The post was written with the support of the company EDISON Software, which develops software for banks , as well as deals with measurement automation and expert systems .

Now, after completing the sixth attempt, you try another combination of search terms and press the search key. The page loads, and only you started to view the results, when suddenly your browser window is broken, and you see this:


“You speak our language. Ready for the test? ”

“Wait, what?”

“Where did it come from?”

“Some kind of challenge from Google ... Is it based on my search history?”

You completely forget about the error in your code. Now you are completely absorbed in the strange situation in which you find yourself. And, no matter how interesting it is, you notice something that only adds to the intrigue. Next to the message, you see that the first button says:

"I want to play"

Oh, so this is a game? Interesting ...

Subject to curiosity, you accept. The split in your browser window is slowly increasing, showing a large black screen, which then disappears. You will then be redirected to . A black screen appears and text appears. It looks like a Unix shell.

The aesthetics of the page (retro computer font, hidden terminal, lack of modern user interface) combined with “007 - your mission, if you decide to accept it”, the feeling of all this experience makes you feel that you are embroiled in a secret world. You are now completely absorbed.

There is text at the top of the screen:

“Google has code code for you.”

Just below is a paragraph of bluish text that sets the stage for a fantastic adventure:

"Success! You managed to penetrate into the evil organization of Commander Lambda and, finally, earn yourself an entry level position as a Minion in her space station. From here, you can simply destroy her plans using the LAMBCHOP doomsday device to destroy Planet Bunny. The problem is that the minions are the lowest of the minima in the Lambda hierarchy. Better shake up and get to work, otherwise you will never get to the top ... "


"Okay. It seems that I can either investigate the terminal, or start the test ... "

Your curiosity beats you again, and you think:" I can't just start the game without examining a little. " So you type "help" and press a key. A list of shell commands appears.


"Very interesting. So, we will obviously work with the file system. But this is a rather limited list of options. ”

You decide to check if any of the common commands are available, so try something simple:

foobar:~/guest$ pwd

It works! You see:



“Well, let's look at this home directory. There surely will be something else interesting. ”

So, you try:

foobar:~/guest$ cd ..

Iii ...

Nothing like that.

You get a new line without errors, but when you run it again pwd, just to check, you still see /home/guest. Okay, so probably this is not an open-world Unix shell, crammed with Easter eggs, as you hoped. So you decided to just continue the call.

You enter the word "request" and press the forward key.

An invitation will appear, warning you that this is a temporary task, and you will have 48 hours to complete it.

"Wow. Well, it is timed ... ”

You agree and continue.


More science fiction, and then you will see that something called has solar_doomsday been added to your home folder. So, you go to the folder, open it and find four files:


Readme seems like an obvious place to start. You open the readme file and see the following:


“Ok,” you think when you went through the narration, “they want you to write a function that returns a sorted array of all square numbers (including 1) that add up to a given number, starting with the largest ". Pretty cool,

“So Google uses just such a challenge to test the ability to solve problems?”

“Well, I’ve already gone so far. You can also try!

About chelendzhe foobar

The above description of the Google Foobar challenge: a kind of Easter egg in Chrome, which is supposedly used to search for new talent for the Google engineering team; although Google did not seem to recognize Foobar in any meaningful way (at least I did not find it). However, there are enough developers who have gone through this process to clarify the point.

The unique feature of the Foobar Challenge is that it finds you. And not like an unwanted recruitment text message or a “find you” text message about sales. He finds you by tracking your search activity and (apparently) comparing it with the known needs in the engineering departments of Google. In addition, a sudden visual disturbance of something that is so permanent and unchanged, on the Google search results page, sharp enough to really attract you is certainly a very clever use of Google assets.

Given Google’s (1) access to your personal activity on the Internet and (2) the platform on which you browse the Internet, they really have a great opportunity to catch talented people, wherever they are, in a truly direct and interesting way. They seem to be trying to figure out your basic skill level and area of ​​competence based on your search history, and then try to get you involved in their talent funnel using this “game” which, if successfully completed, may or may not result in an invitation for an interview.

The first mention of the Challenge Foobar, it seems, was in this post on HackerNews in 2014.


When you are on the Foobar page, if you open the devtools and look at the DOM, you will see that the whole page is in iFrame, the source of which is https: // Eid = ... When I first saw it , I thought, “ What it is?

Again, this is just a separate topic of the whole Foobar Challenge, but it turns out that the task itself lives in a “third-party Google project”, which is called “”. If you dig a little in it, you will find several other rather interesting projects. Here are just a few of them that I encountered:
Paper Signals , Quickdraw , CSFirst , QiblaFinder , AIYProjects , ScienceJournal

Also popular now: