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Debuggers Considered Harmful

Robert C. Martin: As debuggers have grown in power and capability, they have become more and more harmful to the process of software development.

Aspirin is the debugger of hangovers.

If you work right you don't need a debugger says Uncle Bob. He wants us to do uncompromising test driven...... [more]

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Debuggers considered harmful

Another one in the "considered harmful" list: Robert C.... [more]

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How is "beware of consultants giving advice" pronounced in Latin?

Posted by Ziv Caspi at

Another one to add to the list.

Posted by Mark at

It's all about balance.  Anything in excess is generally bad. 

I end up using a debugger about once per month for usually very complicated situations.  That said I also call the debugger from a unit test.

The zen is to realize the right balance and use the debugger at the appropriate time.

The ironic thing about this is that writing a good debugger FAR outweighs the benefits for the given peace of code.

For years I haven't had a good debugger for my Emacs/Java/Linux environment.  Now with Eclipse or Emacs with the JDE and JPDA debugger infrastructure I have the same tools that Windows developers have but find I don't need them.


Posted by Kevin Burton at

I've always found the 'copious print statements' method of debugging to be most useful. The only time I use a debugger is gdb in C for a stack backtrace.

Posted by Iain at

Print statements are usually good enough unless you have a more complicated data structure like something from the Java Collections group -- the debugger in Eclipse gives a better view of these complicated ones.

I generally agree though that most problems can be solved with unit tests and print statements.  I'm glad I never got addicted to debuggers.  Coca-cola on the other hand...

Posted by Ryan Lowe at

I really don't like debuggers. I think they promote the wrong way to think about programming. People tend to fiddle with the debugger until the code works instead of thinking about the problem. I usually prefer to solve bugs by staring at the code. Sometimes print statements are needed to see the flow of things. And, of course, you need an environment with good and readable stack tracebacks. That's all I need.

Of course from time to time you fiddle within the interactive environment in Python to try out stuff - but I use that mostly as an alternative to reference manuales by peeking at the docstrings and trying out standard library stuff or doing throw-away-test-cases.

I actually don't even know how to use the debugger in Python at all. :-)

It might be that this comes down to the fact that I learned (professional) programming (in contrast to some private hacking before) on an IBM Mainframe with languages that might have had debuggers but those being to cost intensitive, so you stuck with memory dumps. If you really can read memory dumps, you  never want to go back to silly debuggers at all ...

Posted by Georg Bauer at

Debuggers doing more harm than good?

Debuggers are a wasteful Timesink (via Sam Ruby) Debuggers have become immensely powerful. A good debugger is a very capable tool. With it, an experienced developer can step through very complex code, look at all the variables, data structures, and stack frames; even modify the code and continue. And yet, for all their power, debuggers have done more to damage...... [more]

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I actually don't even know how to use the debugger in Python at all. :-)

ME Too Georg

Greeings Geli

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