27 July, 2017

I do not like debugging. I prefer good logging.

The log4j manual quotes Brian W. Kernighan and Rob Pike from their “truly excellent book” The Practice of Programming:

As personal choice, we tend not to use debuggers beyond getting a stack trace or the value of a variable or two. One reason is that it is easy to get lost in details of complicated data structures and control flow; we find stepping through a program less productive than thinking harder and adding output statements and self-checking code at critical places.

Clicking over statements takes longer than scanning the output of judiciously-placed displays. It takes less time to decide where to put print statements than to single-step to the critical section of code, even assuming we know where that is. More important, debugging statements stay with the program; debugging sessions are transient.

There are times when a debugger can be really helpful, but in my experience they are normally used as a fallback for a poorly documented system with an unclear flow of logic, or overly large methods with poor test coverage.

See other posts tagged with general and all posts made in July 2017.