A good coder knows how to fix bugs, but an excellent coder knows how to avoid bugs while programming, creating clean and problem-free code. Here are some good habits you can practise, to make sure you keep errors in your code to a minimum.
What are bugs?
In software programming, “bug” is the word used to describe a flaw or an error in a piece of code or a system. Bugs cause incorrect or unexpected behaviour in programmes and systems. The process of fixing these errors is called “debugging”.
How does debugging work?
Debugging is a multi-step process. First, you must identify the problem or bug, then you must isolate the source of that bug. After that, you must either correct the problem, or figure out a way to work around it. Finally, you need to test the corrected code or the workaround, to make sure it works properly.
There are a number of debugging tools available online, to help make the process easier.
How can you prevent bugs?
Of course, as they say, “prevention is better than cure” – it’s better to avoid bugs in the first place, than to have to go back and fix them. Here are some smart ways to prevent bugs from creeping into your code.
Keep it simple: Write simple code that does not do too much at once. As much as possible, stick to code where everything has at least one specific purpose, and does not have extra internal structure.
Stay focused: Distractions lead to mistakes, so try to minimise interruptions when you’re working on code. Focus on one thing at a time, instead of trying to multitask.
Write modular code: Separate your code into self-contained, independent modules. These modules should only depend on each other very in clearly defined ways. Modularity makes each piece of your code easier to understand and test independently of other pieces.
Use tools to help you: There are some handy tools out there that will help you to spot bugs before your code goes live. Check out some examples of these tools online, like BugTracker for software and InstaBug for mobile apps.
Rely on existing libraries: If there is a well-tested library available that will carry out the same function you were planning to code, make use of it. Many developers use these libraries, so they have been tested multiple times and should give you clean, reliable code.
Take note of compiler warnings: Compiler warnings help you to easily identify errors in your code. Be sure not to ignore them.
Review your code often: Before testing your code, it’s important to review it and check for unnoticed bugs. A proper review process should include self-checking your own code, as well as mutual checking by your peers or team leaders. All professional programmers (and amateurs too, for that matter) should thoroughly review and test their code before pushing it into a production environment.
If you’re coding on your own and want a fresh set of eyes to check your work, you can also upload your code to GitHub, where it will be reviewed by the community.
Code review is such an integral part of the programming process. If you’re looking to learn code, make sure you have access to quick and reliable code review. HyperionDev offers a choice of online coding bootcamps, which include next-day code reviews from experienced mentors. This means you can work through your coding tasks quickly and efficiently, without feeling stuck.
Your mentor will assess the accuracy, style and efficiency of your code to make sure it’s in line with industry standards. Then they’ll provide you with actionable feedback. Code review is a great way to ensure you avoid bugs when programming, and produce high quality code that works like a dream.