TechDogs-"All About Debugging Tools"

Software Development

All About Debugging Tools

By TechDogs

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Have you ever arranged a jigsaw puzzle? If yes, then you would understand the pain of assembling the entire puzzle - although it is satisfying once you have the pieces in place.

However, you must have noticed that one wrong placement breaks the entire anatomy of the puzzle. Nothing fits anymore, even if you think it’s the right piece! Software developers would closely relate to this example. They spend hours creating flawless code and one missing piece or a wrong code snippet can destroy the entire effort. This fixation on identifying and rectifying every error is what we want to discuss!

Yes, this article will explain in detail how you can be smarter about fixing bug-related issues – presenting Debugging Tools. The importance, inception, working, etc. of these tools will be covered in this journey. So, hold on tight and understand why your code needs a Debugging Tool!
TechDogs-"All About Debugging Tools"
Did you know that the term “debugging” was coined while removing an actual bug (a moth, in this case), which was hampering the correct functioning of a computer operation? Needless to say, all software applications are supported with chains of codes, which as per specified functioning, help perform various tasks. Debugging refers to the process of ensuring that the functioning assigned to each code is performed seamlessly without any flaws. In layman’s terms, it can also be said as removing errors that cause an application to fail and deter a system's or software's proper operation. #GotThatRight

In an application, numerous subsystems or modules are tightly linked with each other. If one code misses its step, it causes others to fail their steps as well. To understand where the code has missed its step, the process of debugging was introduced. Now, debugging is completely different from its earlier process of testing. How? Basically, testing is done with the objective - of identifying bugs, errors, etc., whereas debugging begins after the confirmation that there is a bug in the software.

Let us go on to the section to learn more about debugging and Debugging Tools.

What Are Debugging Tools?

In 2015, a software glitch was identified in the F-35 fighter planes because of which the plane failed to detect correct targets while flying. The impact of the wrong code was so much that the planes were unable to identify if there was a single target or multiple targets. In another incident, a software bug helped in a massive bank heist, that too without the help of #TheProfessor - yes, it took place in Bangladesh, where a group of hackers took advantage of a software loop created because of a glitch in the software application and they stole $81 million, through four different transactions. By the time authorities took cognizance of it, these hackers were able to wipe off their traces. #BestHeistOfAllTime

Wondering why we are even mentioning these. All these glitches come about because of software malfunction, which as you read, costs a bomb. So, is there a way to avoid these incidents happening – either manual or automated? Yes, there is - and it is called debugging. Essentially, debugging is the process of determining and fixing any miscalculations, which can cause havoc and of course may cost the company’s pocket. These miscalculations, or “software bugs” as they are referred to in general terminology, are identified, classified and processed to ensure the proper working of an application thereafter.

Debugging requires expertise; removing bugs from an existing set of codes embedded within an application isn’t child’s play. This process of debugging can also be done through automation with the help of Debugging Tools. They essentially aid in identifying errors within the code, at various phases of the software development process. These tools examine the trial run and define code lines that are not executed properly.

Now that you know all about debugging and Debugging Tools, let’s take a look at their history and how they evolved.

Evolution Of Debugging Tools

The history of debugging is very interesting. Why? It is because it was presumed that it would be a simple exercise and much more straightforward – just think, write the code and be done! Also, this process was identified by an admiral (U.S. Navy Rear Admiral Grace Hopper) while she was working on a Mark II computer around the 1940s. Although by 1949 it already became the talk of the town among early computer developers that this might be not the case (the process of developing software just by writing codes and without bugs). Debugging became an important aspect even though these were written by mathematicians, who work on complex formulas. However, it was thrice that the programs were found error-free and soon a chain of other events led to the need for a Debugging Tool. Interested in knowing more?

TechDogs-"Evolution Of Debugging Tools"-A GIF Of Jim From The Office Saying Yes
There is no hard evidence to the fact as to when the first Debugging Tool was invented or used, what is certain is the fact that debugging techniques evolved along with these programming languages for software development. It wasn’t until late 1983, Integrated Development Environment (IDE) tools such as Turbo Pascal’s invention enabled features such as editing, compiling, linking and debugging the code all at once. Then the development of a few other refined techniques of debugging took place. One of them was the breaking point that allowed the developer to halt the program and check for bugs instantly.

Then, to assist the programmers, a multi-threaded, multitasking UNIX system was made available, which eventually shifted from text-based to graphical user interface (GUI) applications like VC++ (Visual), GDB (Command Line), DDD (Front End) and Eclipse (Visual).

Phew… wasn’t easy at all and upgrades are still coming fast which will definitely add great value in the long run. Let’s now move to another section and understand the technology behind Debugging Tools.

How Do Debugging Tools Work?

TechDogs-"How Do Debugging Tools Work?"-A GIF Showing Hoe Debugging Works
There are a couple of market leaders when it comes to Debugging Tools like Chrome DevTools, dbForge SQL Tools, Fiddler, Microsoft Console Debugger Tool, WinDbg Preview Debugging Tool, Visual Studio Debugger, etc. - but how do they all work? Let us have a look at their working model.

An error is reported when the data structures are not as expected and to identify it, developers take the help of these tools. The process of identification starts by launching their application on the code. Utilizing a sequence-based method, these tools find the bugs through code sequence. Also, a defect report is created, which contains the cause of the bug along with a step-by-step process of the execution to eliminate the bug. #Debugging

Then appropriate changes are executed and then retested to make sure that the application code is error-free. Debuggers allow users to halt the running program execution to examine variable values all through the application, code by code and set breakpoints on lines, which when hit, will halt the program execution. This helps the user to discover how a program flows, identify incorrect code, data structures and find syntactic errors in the application by seeing how the program is viewed by the developer’s computer.

While it may seem simple, it involves a couple of techniques such as interactive debugging, reverse debugging, remote debugging, post-mortem debugging, delta debugging and batch debugging. All these techniques help dynamically analyze and efficiently debug the complete applications’ code.

See, debugging is not that common but quite technical. We bet you want to understand its importance – head on to the next section!

Importance Of Debugging Tools

These tools or debuggers are no less than an elixir potion to all software developers as they help in fixing issues that otherwise would have passed through plain sight. Although this is the primary reason why they are important, they also support in other ways:
  • Releasing code without much modification within the data structure

  • Understanding an application code step by step through triggered breakpoints

  • Providing a comprehensive overview of an application’s code

  • Allowing a code to run in real-time, which helps in analyzing the state of running applications

  • Helping to refine the sets of code and elimination of unnecessary lines of codes

  • Releasing application or software which is error-free

‘All errors fixed’ is what any developer would be interested to hear and the company releasing these applications as well. These tools also showcase the result of an incorrectly coded application, which is a greater learning for all developers and organizations.

Now, let us have a look at the need for these tools – yes, that wasn’t all. #DebuggingToolsAreAwesome

What Is The Need For Debugging Tools?

In the example of jigsaw puzzles, it should be clear and transparent to the player which pieces will fall in which sections; likewise, a major advantage of these tools is that they provide transparency to the user as to where the issue is. It also provides a liberal amount of time while resolving an issue which in other cases would trap manual debugging. That’s not all, other advantages include:
  • Less Downtime

    Early detection of the error through Debugging Tools will help the developer save time and effort by refining the error in the code and avoiding the usage of heavy-loaded codes within an application.

  • Faster Turnarounds

    These debuggers produce reports without any delay in the process, saving the hassle of spending additional time on manual identification of the stage where a bug has occurred or creating reports about it.

  • Simple Interpretations

    Reports generated by these Debugging Tools are easy to comprehend and give proper and important information about the data structure of the code.

  • Producing An Error-free Application

    Identification of the errors through these tools helps in fixing them early and releasing an application or software which is bug-free, not to mention a faster time-to-market.


Future Of Debugging Tools

It is very much understandable that every error cannot be considered mission-critical or threatening – but what might be missed is the fact that we would see broader debugging techniques and concepts (like non-breaking breakpoint or remote debugging) in the near future. This could eventually tell the outcomes of a wrong code used or even collect all the bugs in a code and create another version without the bugs – all on its own! The fact of the matter is, with the advancements in Machine Learning, there is a high possibility of encountering semi-automated or hybrid models of Debugging tools to assist the developers in debugging.

These systems will leverage cloud computing and distributed systems with multiservice architecture to help perform in a live environment. Also, with Web 3.0 emerging, it would open the way for interoperability in building new applications on top of one another with the help of reusable software components and creating distinct applications. #SuitUpDevelopers


Have you ever thought of time travel? Well, we don’t know when it will become a reality but for now, these Debugging Tools can help with that as they give a glimpse of what was done in real-time, lets you interact with the application and even allows you to fix any issues without the fear of losing on coding time. Fantastic, isn’t it So, until next time #HappyCoding

Frequently Asked Questions

What Are Debugging Tools?

Debugging tools are essential aids for developers in identifying and rectifying errors within software code. These tools play a crucial role in ensuring the smooth functioning of applications by helping developers pinpoint and resolve bugs that may cause malfunctions. Whether it's a glitch in the code structure or an unforeseen issue impacting program execution, debugging tools assist developers in navigating through the complexities of code to achieve optimal performance.

What Is the Evolution Of Debugging Tools?

The evolution of debugging tools mirrors the advancements in programming languages and software development practices. While the concept of debugging dates back to the early days of computing, the emergence of integrated development environments (IDEs) in the late 20th century revolutionized the debugging process. From rudimentary techniques like setting breakpoints to sophisticated tools offering real-time code analysis, debugging tools have undergone significant refinement over the years. Today, developers have access to a diverse array of debugging tools catering to different programming languages and development environments, empowering them to tackle complex coding challenges with precision and efficiency.

How Do Debugging Tools Work?

Debugging tools operate by providing developers with insights into the execution of software code, enabling them to identify and troubleshoot errors effectively. These tools employ various techniques, such as interactive debugging, reverse debugging, and remote debugging, to facilitate the debugging process. By allowing developers to examine variable values, track program flow, and set breakpoints within the code, debugging tools streamline the detection and resolution of bugs. Additionally, modern debugging tools offer features like real-time error reporting, code analysis, and automated testing, enhancing developers' ability to produce high-quality, error-free software applications.

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Debugging Tools Debugging Bugs Debugger Error Diagnostic Interactive Debugging Reverse Debugging Remote Debugging Post-Mortem Debugging Delta Debugging Batch Debugging Chrome DevTools dbForge SQL Tools Fiddler Microsoft Console Debugger Tool WinDbg Preview Debugging Tool Visual Studio Debugger Debugging Software

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