10 Ways to Get Better at Bug-Fixing
16 Feb 2021
3 min read
Just like real coding, bug-fixing is a fundamental part of a developer's job description, but only a few treat it with the seriousness it deserves. Regrettably, very few developers think of the bug solving process, let alone researching about it.
What most of us don't understand is that bug-fixing is as educational as it is fun. Taking a personal initiative to crunch as many bugs as you can enhances your knowledge base. The process can create a roadmap for discovering new technologies and tricks that you never knew existed before.
Have you been facing challenges repairing software bugs? Don't worry; this post gives actionable tips on how to get better at bug-fixing. Let's jump in!
Replicating the Bug
Reproducing the bug is essential due to the following reasons:
- It enables you to establish that the bug is still reproducing and that the pattern matches that of a bug description.
- It helps you establish where the real problem is.
- It acts as a verification procedure, confirming that the bug is no longer available.
Fixing bugs without a prior replication test is very unwise, and more often than not, it ends up aggravating the problem instead of solving it. The real hassle arises when the bug fails to reproduce consistently. Such scenarios call for a more in-depth analysis, which involves adding extra logs to unearth more authentication until bug fixes.
Taking Time to Understand the Problem Fully
Check this out: an online shopper places five items into a cart and checks out to view the cart. Upon checking the purchases, the user decides to remove all the five picks and clicks "refresh" then suddenly, an error shows on the screen.
As a bug fixer, you might establish that pushing the refresh button when the cart is empty leads to the error. The other possibility may be that removing the items then refreshing the page is the problem. Weighing these alternating options can save you a lot of time compared to a programmer who just goes straight to debugging.
There's more than meets the eye when it comes to debugging; it requires immense expertise, strategies, and tools. The best way to go about it is to seek mentorship from a seasonal developer with great pair programming attributes.
All said and done, the best debugging resource you can possess is your brain. All you need is to invest in the right training at practice to boost your coding expertise, consequently making you more efficient at debugging.
This entails removing a specific code until the bug disappears naturally. Yes, you might have narrowed down the problem to a piece of code, but debugging it can still be a real hassle for one reason or another. Therefore, the best approach is removing parts of the code until the problem vanishes. For instance, when you're experiencing challenges loading the UI page, you can remove the UI elements singularly until the bug ceases to exist.
Using a Performance Profiler
Picture this: you are to fix a bug on an unfamiliar project and have little or no details on reproducing the bug. In this case, you can't establish what's wrong with the code, leave alone where to breakpoint. In this case, the best way out is using a performance profiler to record and assess potential hitch. That way, you can get an idea of what broke the code and where to breakpoint.
Returning to the Last Functional Version
You've tried all the above tips without success, and you feel like throwing in the towel. But hold on a second, there's one more shot to take - returning to the last functional version. Here, you're supposed to use the source control to travel back in time and conduct a thorough binary search until you discover the last functional version. The next step is moving forward and backward until you unmask the root cause of the problem.
Leveraging the Source Control
Finding bugs has been made easy with the source control tool, more so if you're trying to fix those that don't reproduce consistently. Provided you can tell the files in a code relating to the bug, you'll simply need to review their history or use Annotate/Blame to find the alterations.
Applying Unit Tests
Fixing the bug isn't the end of the road; you must put in place mechanisms to ensure that the problem never resurfaces again. To do so, you can conduct unit tests in dissimilar or same release versions to cover the problematic scenario permanently.
Leveraging Logs, Event Viewers, and Dumps
These are excellent tools that will help keep bugs off the software for a very long time after fixing. For instance, the log serves as a referential backup, storing essential information that can shed light as to why a bug invaded in the first place. Likewise, Dumps and Event Viewer can assist in tracing the crush, plus its exact original point.
Knowing Your Tools
It's frightening how some programmers refer to themselves as debugging gurus when they can barely tell what tools are for what domains. To attain that feat, you must tell what tools are for performance profiling, debugging, decompiling, memory profiling, etc.
Bug-testing can be a headache when you're learning a new programming language or a skill like cybersecurity. In a case like this, it can be helpful to take a course or coding Bootcamp. Education can be expensive; luckily, there are many financial aid opportunities you can hop on.