All About Software Debugging

  • Software debugging is a main activity in the software development process. It is used extensively by software developers to localize faults. Likewise to find sources of errors, and enhance software quality and performance in general. The most popular way to localize faults is by manual debugging, which is hard and time consuming.

What is Software Debugging

Debugging, in computer programming and engineering, is a multi-step process that involves identifying a problem, isolating the source of the problem, and then either correcting the problem or determining a way to work around it. The final step of debugging is to test the correction or workaround and make sure it works.

Debugging is the routine process of locating and removing computer program bugs, errors or abnormalities, which is methodically handled by software programmers via debugging tools. Debugging checks, detects and corrects errors or bugs to allow proper program operation according to set specifications.

Explaining Debugging

Developing software programs undergo heavy testing, updating, troubleshooting and maintenance. Normally, software contains errors and bugs, which are routinely removed. In the debugging process, complete software programs are regularly compiled and executed to identify and rectify issues. Large software programs, which contain millions of source code lines, are divided into small components. For efficiency, each component is debugged separately at first, followed by the program as a whole.

Steps in Software Debugging

Always Reproduce the Bug Before You Start Changing Code

So many times I have seen the description of a problem, immediately made some random assumptions, proceeded to make changes, checked in the code, closed the ticket and sat there pleased with myself, only to find out that the next day someone re-opened the ticket and said it is not fixed.

Understand Stack Traces

Not every bug will have a stack trace, but most of them do. The ability to read and understand them in seconds is an incredible skill. The key to remember is that the root cause, the filthy culprit that broke your perfect day, is usually wrapped up several layers deep. So work from the bottom of the scary long stack trace upwards to find the root cause.

Write a Test Case that Reproduces the Bug

Test cases written in Jasmine, JUnit or XCUnit can help diagnose and close out a bug which are have felt incredible. For one, it keeps you focused on just that one bug. It also speeds up your fix time because you no longer need to launch a full app. And hence click around 6 or 7 times just reach the screen which crashes. Finally it will help ensure your bug never returns.

Know Your Error Codes

much every app these days, knowing what the HTTP error code means can be a huge help in diagnosing bugs!

  • 404 – You might have the wrong url in your app
  • 401 – Your credentials are likely wrong
  • 418 – You’re talking to a teapot!
  • 429 – You’re making too many requests

Google! Bing! Duck! Duck! Go!

Whatever your search engine of choice is, you are sure to find a helpful answer somewhere in the internet. Just gather up as much information as possible before you hit “search” in the search engine.

Pair Program Your Way Out of It

If you find yourself spending more than 30 minutes hacking away and not making any progress, stop right there. Bring in a colleague, a friend (or a CodeMentor) and also talk them through it. Show them the bug and the code. Likewise, tell them everything that you have tried. Moreover, explain to them what you think the problem is.

You would be shocked to find out how often just the simple fact that you are talking it through and having to explain it to someone else can suddenly help you see what the issue really is. Other times, it might actually be a complex issue (like a race condition) and having a second set of eyes can help pick up edge cases and scenario’s you have not even considered.

Celebrate Your Fix

Whether you turned a test from red to green or closed out a ticket on your queue, give yourself a solid high-five. You have just saved the day and deserve all the credit coming your way on this one.

All About Software Debugging
Software Bugs Which Cause System Failures

In Conclusion

Debugging is defined as a process of analyzing and removing the error. It is considered necessary in most of the newly developed software or hardware and in commercial products/ personal application programs. For complex products, debugging is done at all the levels of the testing.


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