Don’t blend the concepts- troubleshooting and debugging! Start learning the industry’s best practices for troubleshooting and debugging.
Programming is a complicated process and, as it is done by humans, often leads to errors. By mere whim, errors in programs are called bugs and the process of finding and fixing them is called debugging. Programmers need to understand the difference between debugging and troubleshooting and the best practices to integrate these processes. Usually, you will need to spend more time in debugging than in troubleshooting. Although, sometimes programmers will need to more frequently perform troubleshooting. Here are some factors that may help you identify and differentiate the two terms- troubleshooting and debugging.
Difference between Troubleshooting and Debugging
Troubleshooting takes place at a higher level to help identifying the issues in the system, while applying it to several components. It parses out problem causing elements. It involves a step-wise interview of the system’s end users in order to trace the problems. Troubleshooting is a process that can be implemented in any system to find out the point of failure and components involved in it. It is not necessary that the individual who is conducting the troubleshooting may also have the technical expertise to fix the problem. While, debugging is more like a sub-set of troubleshooting.
The verification or debugging of a program is the process of executing the program with a wide variety of input data, called test or test data, which will determine whether or not the program has errors. To carry out the verification, a wide range of test data must be developed: normal input values, extreme input values that check the limits of the program and input values that check special aspects of the program.
– Compilation Errors
They are usually caused by incorrect use of the rules of the programming language and are usually syntax errors. If there is a syntax error, the computer cannot understand the instruction, the object program will not be obtained, and the compiler will print a list of all the errors found during the compilation.
– Execution Errors
These errors are produced by instructions that the computer can understand but not execute. Typical examples are: division between zero and square roots of negative numbers. In these cases the execution of the program stops and an error message is printed.
– Logical Errors
They occur in the logic of the program and the source of the error is usually the design of the algorithm. These errors are the most difficult to detect, since the program can work and not produce compilation or execution errors, and the error can only be detected by obtaining incorrect results. In this case you must go back to the design phase of the algorithm, modify the algorithm, change the source program and compile and run once more.
Steps to Perform Debugging
To reduce development time lost with this task, it is extremely important to know the practices that make it easier to locate defects. The steps described are simple, yet extremely important in order to perform Debug efficiently. The idea is to apply the scientific method to the debugging scenario, as briefly described in the steps below.
Stabilize the Error – Try to find the input values and the conditions under which the problem occurs.
Find the cause of the error – Formulate hypotheses, test them until you can find the source of the problem
Correct the defect – Perform the correction. Watch out! 50% of the times one error is fixed, another is put in place!
Test – Perform the test to verify that the error has even been corrected. At that time, in addition to manually testing, why not create an automated test to ensure that the situation never repeats itself?
Look for Similar Errors – Identify similar scenarios and similar codes where the defect may also have occurred.
A practice that often reduces the time to find or correct a problem is to present to the team the symptoms and what the ultimate goal of the code is. Based on previous experience, other team members can formulate hypotheses and greatly accelerate the debugging process. In some cases it is even possible for the team to decide on a strategy change and make a major change to the code to improve maintenance and flexibility.
However, when taking the problem to other developers, be aware of how it will be taken. Often, asking the right question is essential for a quick response. And be prepared to answer a simple question like, “What have you tried?” This question is as valid for identifying the problem as for the solution. Knowing how to explain your steps so far and your knowledge of the subject being questioned is important to prevent others from offering trivial or non-applicable solutions to the case.
Best Practices in Trouble shooting and Debugging
Programmers have to find the issues in computer code and fix them, there would be several errors some obvious and others may not that brings you to a set of best practices.
– Encounter the Change
You may find encounter change in both troubleshooting and debugging. Generally, a software application fails when there is a change in its ecosystem. System should be robust to manage problems like; a wrong procedure followed by the new user. In this process, controlling version and log files may help you in this.
Often programmers may prematurely jump into coding due to their managers’ pressure or irritated client. It is likely that the problem is not related to the code if you explore the issue with the operations cap. You can look for any changes in the configuration files. It will help them taking the higher level approach to resolve the change problem without jumping into code. There is greater chance that code was not the cause of issue so you should start with debugging.
– Dependence on Tools, but not in Isolation
Tools for troubleshooting and debugging assist you in identification of problems. However, you must isolate your use of tools in both process, as they may deceive you in analyzing the issues. Usually, tools have specific purposes being language specific or platform specific. Thus, unable to encounter issues outside the system.
Deployment tracking is a key feature of a software program that assist you in monitoring the deployment changes. It enables multiple servers for you to report deployments and helps you in getting at the heart of the issue. When you are debugging you should give the benefit of doubt to everyone.
When start with coding you came across several problems that you can believe may arise from the code. It is not strange that in software app development anything can go wrong. You must make sure that whenever the team identifies a bug it is not the code causing the problem. You can check the code for certainty and avoid such a situation.
Developers are usually in a hurry to create the code and pass on to the next set of assignments. They don’t like debug and it is understandable; however, it is not a relevant excuse for developing a code causing a problem. You must take time to make a bug-free code.
Best practices include helping others to find the issues, if you are confident about your code. It makes you a good player for your team and it may also expose the debugging process. There are many experienced coders in a development team, but having a number of project in hand they are burden with enough sessions of debugging. Therefore, a help may be useful in finding the solution within less time and effort.
– Print Statement
There are several debugging tools in the app development market that you may come across as it is unlikely for you to stay in one company for a very long time. You may be under the critical situation to debug a program with no knowledge of the tools used by the new company. You might be familiar with a good number of tools but this is not always the case in highly changing market. Since, the beginning of coding, Print Statement is the tried and tested method that works, although you may not find it robust. It is common in many programming languages to help you display the output of the values and serves the purpose of basic debugging process.
– Track the Bugs
It is certain that you don’t remember how you resolved a problem three months ago. To track the bugs it is an effective way to capture the issues, how they were fixed, and experience of the team. You may easily have a tracking solution that makes it possible to track problems and encourage team participation in the debugging process.
Retrace is a bliss for troubleshooter to determine the focal point of the issues, code deployment, and measuring its impact. There are debugging and troubleshooting tools that help you retrace problems in a more sophisticated way. Such a software will help you in monitoring the failure and defect points in the system quickly. It consists of log entries specific to the issues that may save your time in identification each time.
Some bug tracking tools may also find and fix the bugs as you develop the code. So, you may be able to examine the effects of code changes on the code components it interacts with. These tools minimize the chances of failures and enable integration and deployment for several small features. In an event of integration failure, it is much easier to revert back. As a developer you may be more confident with enhanced sets of small features with integrated versions to react, fix and adjust your code on the spot.
– Statistical Analysis and Linter
Statistical analysis can be done using a linter in some languages to encounter issues before compilation of code, while some languages use to check style enforcement or syntax error via lint tool. You can prevent the bugs from arising in the executed software, if you pass the code through linter or run the lint program when writing code. You can save a lot of time with a linter as you may find the incorrect data types, typos, and syntactical errors causing to create bugs.
– Version Control
Software development best practices include the use of version control system besides a bug tracker. You cannot ignore using a version control in the non-trial sized project. You are able to identify different code versions as per the code working and what the code does. You can merge various versions after the multiple programmers finish their part of the code without bugs that impact on others’ code.
You can easily rollback to the earlier version of code changes, which is very critical for the programmers to avoid the cost in fixing the problem and undoing the mistakes. It simply returns you back to the point before you did the mistake.
It is much easier for the programmer to fix the bug if the code is present in modules. Since, it easy to execute the program and fix the bugs. Poorly architected code must be avoided and code modularization should be integrated to handle one concern at a time. It works in two ways. Firstly, it provides abstraction of the module without any need for details. Secondly, these details can be examined by unrelated code without any obfuscation.
Modularization goes hand in hand with the automated testing. This is a unit test or other type of tests that consists of the executable code with defined input and checks to observe the behavior of the software program against the requirements.
Although people use the debugging and troubleshooting terms interchangeably, which can create confusion for the programmers. Debugging is sub set of troubleshooting that helps you encounter bugs and fix them at the same time. Trouble shooting is more of a work-protocol based problems and not resolved in the same moment as they arise. You usually spend more time in debugging than trouble shooting. This article helps you understanding the difference between the two and explains the number of industry’s best practices in making these processes more effective.
It is quite a challenging task to map out a plan for debugging in various business environments. Invision solutions integrates the software engineering best practices in application development that saves you from great hassle when running out of time and budget.
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