What Is Bug Fix

A bug fix is a change to a system or product. A bug fix or program temporary fix (PTF) is designed to handle a programming bug or glitch.

Many different types of programming bugs that create errors with system implementation may require specific bug fixes that are successfully resolved by a development or other IT team.

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Explaining Bug Fix

Bug fixes also may be used in specific company protocols for identifying and fixing bugs. For example, IBM inform development teams about bugs through an authorized program analysis report (APAR). The bug fix is issued when the bug has been fixed and represents an effective resolution to the problem.

One of the most common applications of bug fixes is a technical protocol that is used to identify various types of bugs, so they may be effectively resolved. The type of system used in many organizations is known as an “open ticket” system, where a bug is identified with a certain number, and a record is “opened” on that particular bug.

Steps on How to Fix a Bug

Step 1: Enter the bug in your case tracking system

At the end of all these steps is a phase where you are tearing your hair out and still have not gone home, yet. Then you will realize one of two things:

  1. you have forgotten some crucial detail about the bug, such as what it was, or
  2. you could assign this to someone who knows more than you.

A case tracking system will prevent you from losing track of both your current task and any that have been put on the back burner. And if you are part of a team it will also make it easy to delegate tasks to others and keep all discussion related to a bug in one place.

You should record these three things in each bug report:

  1. What the user was doing
  2. What they were expecting
  3. Also, what happened instead

Step 2: Google the error message

If there is an error message then you are in luck. It might be descriptive enough to tell you exactly what went wrong, or else give you a search query to find the solution on the web somewhere. No luck yet? Then continue to the next step.

Step 3: Identify the immediate line of code where the bug occurs

If it is a crashing bug then try running the program in the IDE with the debugger active and see what line of code it stops on. This is not necessarily the line that contains the bug (see the next step), but it will tell you more about the nature of it.

Step 4: Identify the line of code where the bug actually occurs

Once you know the immediate line, you can step backwards to find where the actual bug occurs. Only sometimes will you discover that they are both one and the same line of code. Just as often, you’ll discover that the crashing line is innocent and that it has been passed bad data from earlier in the stack.

Step 5: Identify the species of bug

 A bug can manifest in many bright and colorful forms, but most are actually all members of a short list of species.

Step 6: Use the process of elimination

If you cannot isolate the bug to any particular line of code, either begin to disable blocks of code (comment them out) until the crash stops happening, or use a unit-testing framework to isolate methods and feed them the same parameters they would see when you recreate the bug.

Step 7: Log everything and analyze the logs

Go through each module or component and add more logging statements. Begin slowly, one module at a time, and analyze the logs until the malfunction occurs again. If the logs do not tell you where or what, then proceed to add more logging statements to more modules. 

Step 8: Eliminate the hardware or platform as a cause

Replace RAM, replace hard drives, replace entire servers and workstations. Install the service pack, or uninstall the service pack. If the bug goes away then it was either the hardware, operating system or runtime. You might even try this step earlier in the process–per your judgement–as hardware failures frequently masquerade as software dysfunction. If your program does network I/O then check switches, replace cables, and try the software on a different network. 

Step 9: Look at the correlations

  1. Does the bug always happen at the same time of day? Check scheduled tasks/cron-jobs that happen at that time
  2. Does it always coincide with something else, no matter how absurd a connection might seem between the two? Pay attention to everything, and I mean everything: does the bug occur when an air-conditioner flips on, for example? Then it might be a power surge doing something funny in the hardware
  3. Do the users or machines it affects all have something in common, even if it’s a parameter that you otherwise wouldn’t think affects the software, like where they are located? (This is how the legendary “500-mile email” bug was discovered)
  4. Does the bug occur when another process on the machine eats up a lot of memory or cycles? (I once found a problem with SQL-Server and an annoying “no trusted connection” exception this way)

Step 10: Bring-in outside help

Your final step will be to reach out to people who know more than you. By now you should have a vague idea of where the bug is occurring–like in your DBM, or your hardware, or maybe even the compiler. Try posing a question on a relevant support forum before contacting the vendors of these components and paying for a service call. 

What Is Bug Fix

In Conclusion

A bug is an error in the program, that causes the program to behave not as it was intended by the developer. IT experts find and fix some of the bugs themselves, while other bugs may be reported by their customers.

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