5 Tips to Help You Debug Code — The Easy Way

There’s perhaps nothing more frustrating than writing code that doesn’t end up producing the desired result. When that happens, you must go back through your code to find the error and fix it. Visual Studio and other debugging tools can help, but the real solution comes from you. You need to have a plan on how to approach this trying problem whenever bugs get in the way of having flawless code. To help you out, here’s what to do.

Find the Error

While you could go through your code line by line, a debugging tool is key in finding the problem fast. Visual Studio is a popular option, but it’s not the only tool you have at your disposal.

Other code debugging tools include:

  • GDB
  • ReSharper
  • Chrome DevTools
  • PlatformIO
  • Memfault

With your tool of choice at your side, simply put your code into the system and let it reveal the errors. Then, take the time to reflect on why the system generated that error and figure out how to fix it. 

Ask Google

Don’t be afraid to ask Google whenever you don’t immediately recognize the error and understand how to resolve the issue in full. Chances are good that someone has run into the same problem and asked for advice on forums and other online communities.

For the best chance at finding the answers you seek, do a detailed search with all the error data and the name of the programming language you’re using. Then, use only the most recent sources since coding technology can quickly change, making old solutions obsolete.

Talk It Out

Rubber duck debugging is a time-honored tradition in the coding world. This approach allows you to talk through every line of your code, potentially resulting in you gaining a new perspective on the data.

While a rubber duck is the ideal audience for solo programmers, it’s often better to bring in a fellow coder whenever possible. That way, you’ll have a second set of eyes on the problem as you go through your code from start to finish.

Step Away

Sometimes, when you’re too close to the problem, it’s almost impossible to find the right answer. Avoid that by giving yourself permission to walk away when the error starts to feel way too challenging to overcome.  

Go out for a brisk walk in the fresh air, get a cup of coffee, or simply close up shop for the day. When you come back to address the issue, you’ll have a better chance of seeing the issue differently and thinking up lasting solutions.

Squash the Bug

Skip the urge to put a band-aid on the problem just to get the code up and running fast. Instead, aim to fully squash the bug for good, so it doesn’t come back to haunt you.

Otherwise, future changes could bring the bug back, resulting in even more problems with your program. Worse yet, the temporary fix could bring even more bugs to the forefront of your program, resulting in errors and crashes galore.

To avoid that, simply test your code once you’ve enacted a solution for the error at hand. Run tests on each section of your codebase for the best results. Then, fix whatever bugs show up during the tests to create clean code that will withstand the test of time.

Debugging is a part of life when you enter the world of programming. So, create a plan to follow whenever problems arise, and you’ll give yourself the best chance of finding and fixing the problem fast.

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