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Effective Debugging

66 Specific Ways to Debug Software and Systems

Paperback Engels 2016 9780134394794
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Every software developer and IT professional understands the crucial importance of effective debugging. Often, debugging consumes most of a developer’s workday, and mastering the required techniques and skills can take a lifetime. In Effective Debugging, Diomidis Spinellis helps experienced programmers accelerate their journey to mastery, by systematically categorizing, explaining, and illustrating the most useful debugging methods, strategies, techniques, and tools.

Drawing on more than thirty-five years of experience, Spinellis expands your arsenal of debugging techniques, helping you choose the best approaches for each challenge. He presents vendor-neutral, example-rich advice on general principles, high-level strategies, concrete techniques, high-efficiency tools, creative tricks, and the behavioral traits associated with effective debugging.

Spinellis’s 66 expert techniques address every facet of debugging and are illustrated with step-by-step instructions and actual code. He addresses the full spectrum of problems that can arise in modern software systems, especially problems caused by complex interactions among components and services running on hosts scattered around the planet. Whether you’re debugging isolated runtime errors or catastrophic enterprise system failures, this guide will help you get the job done—more quickly, and with less pain.

Key features include
- High-level strategies and methods for addressing diverse software failures
- Specific techniques to apply when programming, compiling, and running code
- Better ways to make the most of your debugger
- General-purpose skills and tools worth investing in
- Advanced ideas and techniques for escaping dead-ends and the maze of complexity
- Advice for making programs easier to debug
- Specialized approaches for debugging multithreaded, asynchronous, and embedded code
- Bug avoidance through improved software design, construction, and management


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Over Diomidis Spinellis

Diomidis Spinellis is a Professor in the Department of Management Science and Technology at the Athens University of Economics and Business, Greece. His research interests include software engineering, programming languages, internet information systems, computer security, and intelligent optimization methods. He holds an MEng in Software Engineering and a PhD in Computer Science both from Imperial College London.

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1. High-Level Strategies
Item 1: Handle All Problems through an Issue-Tracking System
Item 2: Use Focused Queries to Search the Web for Insights into Your Problem
Item 3: Confirm That Preconditions and Postconditions Are Satisfied
Item 4: Drill Up from the Problem to the Bug or Down from the Program’s Start to the Bug
Item 5: Find the Difference between a Known Good System and a Failing One
Item 6: Use the Software’s Debugging Facilities
Item 7: Diversify Your Build and Execution Environment
Item 8: Focus Your Work on the Most Important Problems

2. General-Purpose Methods and Practices
Item 9: Set Yourself Up for Debugging Success
Item 10: Enable the Efficient Reproduction of the Problem
Item 11: Minimize the Turnaround Time from Your Changes to Their Result
Item 12: Automate Complex Testing Scenarios
Item 13: Enable a Comprehensive Overview of Your Debugging Data
Item 14: Consider Updating Your Software
Item 15: Consult Third-Party Source Code for Insights on Its Use
Item 16: Use Specialized Monitoring and Test Equipment
Item 17: Increase the Prominence of a Failure’s Effects
Item 18: Enable the Debugging of Unwieldy Systems from Your Desk
Item 19: Automate Debugging Tasks
Item 20: Houseclean Before and After Debugging
Item 21: Fix All Instances of a Problem Class

3. General-Purpose Tools and Techniques
Item 22: Analyze Debug Data with Unix Command-Line Tools
Item 23: Utilize Command-Line Tool Options and Idioms
Item 24: Explore Debug Data with Your Editor
Item 25: Optimize Your Work Environment
Item 26: Hunt the Causes and History of Bugs with the Revision Control System
Item 27: Use Monitoring Tools on Systems Composed of Independent Processes

4. Debugger Techniques
Item 28: Use Code Compiled for Symbolic Debugging
Item 29: Step through the Code
Item 30: Use Code and Data Breakpoints
Item 31: Familiarize Yourself with Reverse Debugging
Item 32: Navigate along the Calls between Routines
Item 33: Look for Errors by Examining the Values of Variables and Expressions
Item 34: Know How to Attach a Debugger to a Running Process
Item 35: Know How to Work with Core Dumps
Item 36: Tune Your Debugging Tools
Item 37: Know How to View Assembly Code and Raw Memory

5. Programming Techniques
Item 38: Review and Manually Execute Suspect Code
Item 39: Go Over Your Code and Reasoning with a Colleague
Item 40: Add Debugging Functionality
Item 41: Add Logging Statements
Item 42: Use Unit Tests
Item 43: Use Assertions
Item 44: Verify Your Reasoning by Perturbing the Debugged Program
Item 45: Minimize the Differences between a Working Example and the Failing Cod
Item 46: Simplify the Suspect Code
Item 47: Consider Rewriting the Suspect Code in Another Language
Item 48: Improve the Suspect Code’s Readability and Structure
Item 49: Fix the Bug’s Cause, Rather Than Its Symptom

6. Compile-Time Techniques
Item 50: Examine Generated Code
Item 51: Use Static Program Analysis
Item 52: Configure Deterministic Builds and Executions
Item 53: Configure the Use of Debugging Libraries and Checks

7. Runtime Techniques
Item 54: Find the Fault by Constructing a Test Case
Item 55: Fail Fast
Item 56: Examine Application Log Files
Item 57: Profile the Operation of Systems and Processes
Item 58: Trace the Code’s Execution
Item 59: Use Dynamic Program Analysis Tools

8. Debugging Multi-threaded Code
Item 60: Analyze Deadlocks with Postmortem Debugging
Item 61: Capture and Replicate
Item 62: Uncover Deadlocks and Race Conditions with Specialized Tools
Item 63: Isolate and Remove Nondeterminism
Item 64: Investigate Scalability Issues by Looking at Contention
Item 65: Locate False Sharing by Using Performance Counters
Item 66: Consider Rewriting the Code Using Higher-Level Abstractions

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