what is debugging in software engineering?

In software engineering, while developing the software by the developer it needs to perform well in our computer system if it is not performing well it means there is some error or incomplete code or something missing in the software. So, now the developer needs to solve these issues or else the client will not accept it. For customer satisfaction, developers have to develop proper software without errors or any other issues so that customer is happy while using the software it is ready to be released in the market.

What is Debugging?

The term “debugging” is the process of finding bugs and solving them in software programs is known “Debugging”. When the software does not work as we expected then the developer will check the code of the software and fix the error which is occurring while playing. Debugging may be a difficult and time-consuming operation, particularly when dealing with complex code.

How do Developers find bugs?

Well, finding bugs is a very complex and sophisticated process. To overcome these complexities there are some tools available like Valgrind, Visual Studio, OllyDBG, Radare2, and BreakPoint. So that they can use it to make their job easier to find a bug.

Why do we need Debugging?

Nobody likes software that has some issues/problems. Suppose a user using notes-making software in their system and he/she wants to make some notes, so while making the notes he/she took 2 hrs to make, now at the time of saving the file he/she gets an error “your file is not able to save” in the computer due to some error. Now the user gets frustrated why did he choose this software to make notes

That is why we need debugging, now let’s see the reasons why debugging is necessary:

why debugging is necessary

Finding and fixing the errors: It helps to find and fix the errors in the programs that can cause system crashes. Using debugging helps to save a lot of time and effort.

Better Software: Debugging enhances the quality of software by removing errors and flaws that have a negative impact on its performance.

It ensures that the program will fulfill the requirements: At the time of creating or developing the software, debugging ensures that all the requirements which is needed in the program will be fulfilled.

It saves time or cost: It helps to reduce the time and cost that is associated with fixing errors during the development process.

Tools for debugging

As I said debugging includes some tools to make it easier for developers to find and fix the bugs of software.

There are many tools are there like:

  1. GDB (GNU Debugger)
  2. WinDbg
  3. Valgrind
  4. Radare2
  5. LLDB

GDB

GDB is a GNU Debugger which is a powerful tool used for C and as well as C++ language. It enables you access inside your C programs while they are running and to view what exactly happens in the event of a program crash.

WinDbg

It is a kernel-mode and user-mode debugger whcih is provided by the Microsoft for debugging the the applications or software in windows OS.

Valgrind

It is a programming tool which is used foe memory debugging, memory leak detection and for profiling. It is a most popular tool where it detect all the memory related errors caused by the programs.

Radare2

It is a tool for is a reverse engineering framework tool that is used for debugging, analyzing, and disassembling binary files.

LLDB

It is a debugger tool component of LLVM project. Which is n open-source debugger for C, C++ and Objective-C. It is designed to be used on Linux, Mac OS X, and FreeBSD independently.

Steps that are involved in Debugging

There are several steps followed in debugging:

Reproduce the error

Before fixing the error in program, it must be reproduced. This may involve running the software under certain conditions or with specific inputs to cause the error to occur.

Identify the error

Once the error is reproduced now the next step is to identify the error in the program. Finding error is a time consuming process until we don’t know the exact location of error. So that’s why we need to check the software with all the possibilities until we get the errors after that we need to find the location.

Identify the location

Once the error is identified, Now the developer have to find the location by reviewing the code from the program.

Analyzing the Error

After finding the location developer needs to analyzing the error of the code. A bottom-up approaches that evaluates the code from the starting location of error followed by analyzing the code. This steps help developer to understand the problem of the program.

Prove the Analysis

Once analyzed developer need to focus on finding the other error. It must to create the test cases using the test framework as part of the test automation process.

Cover Lateral Damage

In this step once all the test analyzed properly then the developer can move to the next step.

Fix and Validate

This is the last step of debugging where the developer can able to fix and validate all the errors by running to check its working properly or not.

Debugging Strategies

Strategies refer to the techniques and methods used to find and fix errors in software. There are different strategies are as follows:

1. Divide and Conquer: In this strategy the code will divided into the smaller pieces and evaluating each pieces separately to determine which portion of the code is causing the issue.

2. Rubber duck debugging: In this strategy involves the explaining the problem and the code to a rubber duck or other inanimate object.

3. Code Review: In this strategy involves the developer to review the code to identify the errors.

4. Forward Analysis: It is a strategy refers to the technique of analyzing the program’s behavior as it executes from the beginning to the end. It involves tracing the program forwards using breakpoints or print statements at different points in the program. It can be useful in debugging because it allows developers to track the state of the program as it executes, identify where errors occur, and understand the factors that contribute to those errors.

5. Backward Analysis: It is a strategy of involving or analyzing the prgram behavior in reverse order from the point where an error occurs back to the point where the error was introduced. It worked by tracing the execution of program backward from th point where the error occurred.

6. Dynamic analysis: In this strategy involves the analyzing of behavior at executing the code while running time to identify the errors and problems.

7. Static Analysis: In this strategy involves analyzing the code without executing the code to identifying errors or bugs.

Advanatges of Debugging

  1. Improved system quality: It helps to find and fix the errors in the software improves the quality of software and also becomes reliable & performs better.
  2. It reduced the downtime of the system: While finding and fixing the bugs, software becomes more stable and less likely yo experience downtime.
  3. Cost of Saving: It helps to identify and fix errors before the software is released, which can help to reduce the cost of fixing errors in production.
  4. Increased security: It also increased the security when errors or bugs were identified. So that users can feel safe while using the software.
  5. A better understanding of the software: Finding the errors by the developer can gain a better understanding of the software or can say software.
  6. Increased Productivity: It increased the productivity of the developers so that they can work properly/efficiently.

Diadvanatges of Debugging

  1. Time-consuming process: Sometimes debugging becomes a time-consuming process when the developer did not find the error in the code of the software.
  2. It is complex: Debugging can be complex, As I said when the developer did not find any error in the code it becomes time-consuming and also complex.
  3. It can be costly: When a client of the software pays the developer to find the error in the code. If the developer was not able to find the error then it also becomes expensive because the client’s money is totally wasted and now he had to pay more to the developer to do the again process.

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