Did you know that the term debugging was inspired by a real insect? One day Admiral Grace Hopper, one of the first computer programmers who invented the first English-language data processing compiler, and her team found out that their Mark II computer continuously produced errors when it was used. They opened the hardware device to detect the cause of the consistent errors, lo and behold, the Harvard University team in Cambridge found a moth entangled in the components of the computer!
However, the term ‘bug’ in programming simply means errors! Throughout history, programmers have preferred to refer to the errors in their programs as bugs which is now a widely accepted term.
What is debugging?
Debugging can be described as the activities that programmers engage in to locate and remove existing and potential errors in their software code. This is done to prevent incorrect functions of systems that can lead to unexpected crashes. A programmer usually tests programs in a code to search for new bugs, so they can be corrected.
Steps involved in debugging
1. Correctly identify the Error: This must be done correctly to saves time and prevent potential repetitive work from reading misleading feedback messages to debug
2. After identification, finding the exact location of the error helps to tackle the problem faster and provide more knowledge as to where the developer went wrong
3. Examining the error helps the developer better understand the error and check for other prospective errors in the program
4. Once you are done analyzing the bugs, the developer needs to create or gather unit tests (smallest testable elements in a system) where all changes are going to be made, to determine if they will pass and are suitable to use.
Why debugging can make you a better developer
Ever heard the quote “you learn from your mistakes” by Thierry Henry? Well, that is what debugging does! Debugging makes you a better learner, the practice of detecting the errors made in your written code and correcting them offers an opportunity to learn new tricks and skills to help you debug faster in the future. Next time, when you are writing your code you will be able to catch your mistake and correct it immediately!
Debugging improves your dexterity as a programmer because you can recognize and eliminate the unnecessary errors that prevent your program from running successfully. Doing this sharpens your problem-solving skills and increases your attention to detail.
Developers become more resilient when they are able to accurately search for potential and existing bugs that could disrupt their code. By trial and error, coders develop the patience to create a successful program free of bugs!
Debugging helps build your experience as a developer! Going through the steps of debugging and learning from your mistakes helps add valuable experience to your profession. The time-consuming and frustrating process of eliminating distracting information from your code tends to expand your knowledge about the subject, such that you become a pro!
Finally, debugging makes you an excellent strategist with strong analytical skills! Before a developer debugs a program, he/she needs to analyze the entire program and figure out which strategies will lead to successfully debugging the code. Through this, the developer easily finds out whether to trace the problem from the location of the failure message or track the entire program at different points.
Let’s be honest, the long hours involved in debugging can be a programmer’s biggest source of frustration and pain point, but it is very necessary for his/her growth as an experienced developer. Always view it as an opportunity to improve, challenge the comfort zone and learn new strategies!