Things I Learnt The Hard Way - Debuggers Are Overrated

1 minute read Published: 2019-07-08

I heard a lot of people complaining that code editors are bad 'cause it's hard to attach a debugger. I'd claim that this vision is wrong.

But let's take a thing out of the way beforehand: I'm not saying debuggers are bad you should never use them. Debuggers have their use, but every time I had to use one, it was because there was something missing.

Most recently, using a framework in Java, I had problems with my code. I'd expect it to crash 'cause I didn't handle things. What actually happened is that the framework silently hid the error and restarted the processing. To find out what was happening, I had to attach a debugger and see what was wrong with the data; otherwise, I'd have no idea about what's wrong.

Was a debugger necessary there? I don't think so. If the framework actually displayed the error (crashed, put a wall of text on the logs, whatever), I wouldn't need to use a debugger. But, because something was missing, I did, in fact, was forced to use a debugger.

Besides this, in the long run, you'd end up with problems in locations that you can't attach a debugger -- for example, your production environment. You could but you shouldn't do this. On the other hand, if you log events, then you can see what was going on, without a debugger.

Again, I'm not taking the merits of debuggers, but in the long run, they are mostly useless and actually point missing surrounding support to actually understand what's going on.

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